We learned earlier this year that Dwayne Johnson has indeed struck a deal to headline Hercules, an adaptation of Radical Comics’ Hercules: The Thracian Wars (written by Steve Moore and illustrated by Admira Wijaya). The film is going to be directed by Brett Ratner and co-produced by Peter Berg (director of Hancock and Battleship), who originally had plans to sit at the helm before Ratner came aboard.
Johnson was confirmed for Anthony and Joe Russo’s Ciudad graphic novel adaptation at the same time reports emerged about him committing to Hercules (which came a few weeks after initial reports that talks had begun). It now appears that Ratner will begin production on his ancient world epic early next year, around the same time the Russo brothers start shooting Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Deadline has the exclusive about Hercules getting an official greenlight, with MGM and Paramount joining forces to co-produce the venture. Ratner has been tapped to direct since he dropped out of the Conan the Barbarian reboot (that turned out to be a wise move), but his reputation as a filmmaker hasn’t improved much over the past five years – or, rather, not since the one-two punch of X-Men: The Last Stand and Rush Hour 3 (that’s despite his last movie, Tower Heist, earning a respectable critical response).
Johnson, by comparison, has returned to full-fledged action star status, beginning with Faster back in 2010; though, a larger audience didn’t follow until he appeared in Fast Five last year. ‘The Rock’ should make an appearance in no less than five films due to hit theaters next year, including the crime-thriller Snitch, G.I. Joe: Retaliation (now enhanced with 3D and more Channing Tatum), the true-story crime flicks Pain & Gain and Empire State, as well as Fast and the Furious 6.
Ratner may be an easy (and, admittedly, somewhat deserving) target for fan rage over his previous directorial efforts; not to mention, having Berg as the director would’ve inspired more confidence right off the bat. Nonetheless, Johnson has the perfect combination of charisma and physical prowess to carry a decently-written version of the Hercules myth.
Hercules is also a far cry from Johnson’s previous forays into the sword & sandals sub-genre, with The Scorpion King and Mummy Returns. Moore and Wijaya’s comic book is renowned as a pretty faithful retelling of the Hercules mythology, picking up with the son of Zeus after he completes his famous twelve labors and becomes a mercenary interested in little more than getting paid (and wreaking bloody havoc on the battlefield).
The adapted script was penned by Ryan Condal, who co-wrote Alex Proyas’ axed Paradise Lost; subsequent revisions were handled by Evan Spiliotopoulos, who we’ve heard also did some uncredited work on Snow White and the Huntsman (he is also scripting the developing Asteroids movie). Here is a proper description of Moore and Wijaya’s The Thracian Wars:
Nearly 3,200 years ago, a tormented soul walked the Earth as neither man nor god: Hercules, powerful son of the god-king Zeus, and for this he received nothing but suffering. After 12 arduous labors and the loss of his family, this dark, world-weary soul turned his back on the gods, finding solace only in bloody battle. Over the years, he warmed to the company of six similar souls, bonded by their love of fighting and the presence of death never questioning where they go or who they fight, just how much they will be paid. Now the King of Thrace has hired these mercenaries to turn his men into the greatest army of all time, which means training them to be as bloodthirsty and ruthless as their own reputation. It is time for this band of lost souls to finally have their eyes opened to how far they have fallen and the narrow, perilous path to their own redemption.
Filming on Hercules (as mentioned before) is slated to get underway in a matter of months, so look for additional casting updates over the forthcoming weeks.