As a seemingly ubiquitous presence in Hollywood as both big-name producer and leading man these days, Michael B. Jordan keeps his perennially full work schedule growing at a rapid speed. Not two months ago, I put together a recap of his known upcoming projects and it was already pretty damn thorough, but new developments dictate that there is so much more to add.
Ever since early February, Jordan has championed a brand-new fellowship aimed at underrepresented youth. He could be on his way to leading a Denzel Washington-directed movie. He sealed a buzzworthy deal to work on Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ next monster movie via his production banner Outlier Society.
Now, the Black Panther and Creed II star is announced as a key figure in the reworked version of the long-gestating Warner Bros. project, Methuselah. According to Deadline, Jordan is set to produce and headline the movie.
It will follow the trials of a protagonist who lives for hundreds of years without actually physically looking it. In all his time spent on Earth, this man accumulates a plethora of skills, ranging from survival tactics to an affinity for multiple languages.
Where and how Methuselah‘s lead will put these abilities to the test so far remains unclear. However, the film and its namesake collectively have a notable history to unpack, given that this is one movie that keeps resuscitating itself in the film industry.
Some facts about the project have remained the same for basically a decade. Firstly, Methuselah was always a David Heyman (Harry Potter) vehicle; he remains attached to the movie to this day. Secondly, many reports over the years have more or less touted it as a blockbuster akin to a Biblical epic, as the film is based on the oldest figure mentioned in the Bible.
The Methuselah that appears in the Bible, the Book of Enoch, Slavonic Enoch, and the Book of Moses is a patriarch from the pre-Flood era. Methuselah is part of the genealogies of Genesis that begin with Adam and Eve and specifically, he is most famous for evidently living to the ripe old age of 969.
In typical Hollywood fashion, there’s probably a plot buried in that scant description alone. That said, it’s no surprise that WB’s Methuselah will attempt to recast this character into an action hero as a supplement to his vast age. Deadline specifically mentions the “Highlander-like mythology and franchise potential” of Methuselah would make for a suitably entertaining adventure romp.
Methuselah was first revealed to be a big project spearheaded by writer-director James Watkins (Eden Lake). Its script subsequently changed hands many times since, with the likes of Arash Amel (A Private War), Zach Dean (Deadfall), and Tony Gilroy (Rogue One) taking turns drafting the screenplay. The latter was reportedly the last screenwriter to tackle the film back in 2017.
Meanwhile, Methuselah hasn’t been short of buzzworthy acting attachments either. Tom Cruise was notably involved. He was announced alongside the hiring of Joachim Rønning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) to helm the picture years after Watkins’ effort remained floating around development hell. Variety further states that at some point, Will Smith had an apparent interest in the project as well.
Of course, apart from a string of noticeable names, there is admittedly a lack of a tenable plot in Methuselah and this makes it a difficult film to predict. There’s a particular sense of incongruity with its classification as a Biblical adaptation, as well considering potentially ham-handed efforts to take its spiritual inspiration to the mainstream.
Right now, Methuselah doesn’t appear to be a straightforward Biblical epic at all. For all we know, it could end up more Jesus Christ Superstar than Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments or William Wyler’s Ben-Hur.
This doesn’t have to be a wholly negative thing, though, given the kind of controversy that such religious epics tend to court the moment adaptational deviations occur. Still, whether they are The Passion of the Christ levels bad or something reminiscent of the better-received (but still whitewashed) Darren Aronofsky film, Noah makes all the difference. (Incidentally, Anthony Hopkins plays a version of the Methuselah character in the latter.)
At the moment, star power is one of the more obvious ways for us to stay invested in Methuselah. In spite of many a thinkpiece lamenting the dying breed of the movie star persona, this is the kind of project that clearly relies so heavily on such a figure to thrive. I’m not surprised that Methuselah was once a Tom Cruise project. Because right now, with the barest of summaries, his ever-entertaining if ever-problematic persona makes for the perfect fit.
Thankfully, then, we have Jordan to fill Cruise’s shoes. Like other blockbusters that he has in the bag, his involvement in Methuselah exemplifies a long-standing salience in pop culture once more; a kind of charismatic energy that’s infectious and causes plenty of preemptive excitement regardless of his project choices. It doesn’t hurt that Jordan has a penchant for championing thoughtful projects, in general, which lets this writer (at least) put some trust in his choices.
Without question, Methuselah is an amorphous project. It has spent enough time on the shelves that it can be hard to believe it’ll finally get off the ground. But with Jordan on board, it might very well pay off in spades.