Put on your favorite version of Rod Stewart’s “Faith of the Heart.” This ‘Highlander’ reboot is really going to happen.
It’s been a long road for the reboot of Highlander. Since 2008, in fact. Now, finally, Deadline reports that Ryan Condal has delivered a script. And Lionsgate really likes it. So much so that they’re talking about possibly making a trilogy.
So, who is Ryan Condal and what might have helped him get it right?
He’s the co-creator and showrunner of USA’s Colony. Condal and his TV production partner Carlton Cuse describe that show as the Nazi occupation of France, but with aliens. It stars Josh Holloway (Lost) and Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead). Do you know who else knew what the Nazi occupation of France was like? Highlander‘s Connor MacLeod.
Condal has also written two feature films for Dwayne Johnson: the upcoming Rampage and 2014’s Hercules. Amazon recently announced that Condal has been creating and writing a Conan the Barbarian series as a sort of return to the character’s literary origins, too.
He’s clearly got an appreciation for genre stories, be they science fiction or fantasy. That’s an essential requirement for Highlander. This also isn’t Condal’s first remake. He recently turned in a script for a Logan’s Run reboot, as well. His scope of success, from warrior-fantasy to historical dramas translated to the realm of science fiction, would suggest he could get a handle on the project.
That’s kind of a big deal. While the franchise is well loved by its ardent fans, it’s hard to say that anything about them is either planned or executed very well. Mostly because they never seemed to really know what they were about.
Since the original film, the franchise has had four more live action features, two live-action spin-off TV show, an animated movie, and two animated series. All of which reinvented the universe’s canon without really discounting prior content. Except for the second movie. That didn’t happen.
It’s a shame. The Highlander-verse is a gonzo idea ripe for engaging stories. People are always down for a story about immortals. And a quest for love and freedom from conflict. Look at the dozens of hugely successful movies about vampires. Think about how much people love Conan the Barbarian. Now put them together. Immortals are stuck in centuries-long battle until only one remains. Yes, please.
Swords are cool. Everybody loves a good decapitation. Bring on the lightning. It’s exciting! And the first movie is great. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, casting a Scotsman as an Egyptian and a Frenchman as a Scotsman, but they did it. As much as people love the first movie, it’s frustrating that in terms of creative output, Queen was the only component that grasped the core problem of being immortal. Who wants to live forever?
That lack of focus on what the franchise should really be about has been a major issue for the reboot. How can you guide the development of something without a core identity? This resulted in 10 years of very different directions. For a hot minute, they were thinking about casting Tom Cruise as Ramirez, the role played by Sean Connery. Before that, they thought about casting Dave Bautista as The Kurgan, the role no one but Clancy Brown should ever play.
They’ve had several directors on board. Most recently, in 2016, they announced John Wick director Chad Stahelski would helm the remake. He said he was a big fan since high school. “I can’t think of a better property that gives the opportunity to create interesting characters, mythic themes, and action set pieces.”
That’s practically Condal’s writing resume broken down to brass tacks. You can maybe see why the script made everyone so happy. Stahelski and Lionsgate both seem to be on board with turning the reboot into a trilogy if it gets some traction. Which will be a very novel situation for this franchise.
Lionsgate is setting pre-production for October 2018, with a goal of a 2019 release. Their intent is that Stahelski will go to work on it as soon as he’s done with the third John Wick. That might be tricky for him, though. He recently signed on to direct the film adaptation of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim. Hopefully, he can find a way to complete both projects.
Related Topics: Highlander