For a movie who’s most famous tag line is “there can be only one,” there are sure a ton of HIGHLANDER sequels, TV spinoffs (live action and animated), novels, comic books, and reboots. But that should come as no surprise; this is Hollywood, and the immortal Scottish swordsman epic is one of the most indelible franchises of the past 30 years.
The original HIGHLANDER arrived in 1986, and is easily the most hallowed of all HIGHLANDER properties, featuring the holy triumvirate of genre stars: Christopher Lambert (NCIS: LA, GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES, MORTAL KOMBAT), Sean Connery (THE James Bond, Dr. Jones, THE ROCK, THE UNTOUCHABLES, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER), and Clancy Brown (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, STARSHIP TROOPERS, ER, FLUBBER, PET SEMATARY II, JOHN DIES AT THE END, and ubiquitous voice actor). The hit spawned HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING (1991), a TV show starring Adrian Paul that began in 1992 and ran for six seasons, another sequel that featured both Highlanders, HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME (2000), and the (I’m assuming) forgettable HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE (2007).
The first HIGHLANDER was directed by Russell Mulcahy (TEEN WOLF, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, THE SHADOW, RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION) from a script from Gregory Widen (BACKDRAFT). This one will come from a script by Matt Holloway (PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, IRON MAN) and Art Marcum (the same), with “polish” from veteran TV writer Melissa Rosenberg.
The new iteration of the franchise has been in development for a while now (since 2008), and has been in a constant state of strife it seems between Summit Entertainment and the talent attached. First, it had FAST & FURIOUS director Justin Lin attached, but he left in 2011. Then director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 WEEKS LATER) worked on the project for a year, but left the project due to creative differences. The most highly publicized departure involves the would-be star of the film, one Ryan Reynolds. He joined the project in June 2012, fresh off the shiny luster that was(n’t) GREEN LANTERN, hoping to rebound with a new franchise. But it was not meant to be, as earlier this summer he departed the film, which must mean the project is in dire straits, since his box office viability has only sunk even further following R.I.P.D.
If this HIGHLANDER reboot ever happens, what follows is what I’d do if I was the casting director, as I choose the man who would be Highlander, the Kurgan, the mentor character (Sean Connery’s Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez) and the love interests: Brenda Wyatt and Heather MacLeod.
In the original film, Brenda Wyatt is a forensic scientist who happens to be a sword expert (score!), and discovers evidence to suggest that Connor’s sword is over 2,000 years old, something she deigns impossible. Of course, she discovers the truth is far more spectacular than that, and she ends up in the middle of a battle between immortals. She’s a New Yorker in the film, but since I’m going to trumpet Scotland as much as I can, I’m going to cast a Scot rather than an American in the role.
Karen Gillan of DOCTOR WHO fame. She’s awesome, adorable, and will help Connor move on from Heather and the old days. I think she has the smarts and feisty-ness to make Brenda more than just a one-note, thankless love interest role, which can be a danger in today’s blockbusters.
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