There were reports claiming that Snow White and the Huntsman could give rise to a spinoff/sequel centered around Chris Hemsworth as ‘The Huntsman’ even before the fairy tale action/adventure re-imagining reached theaters in 2012. The project ultimately took the shape of The Huntsman: Winter’s War, a movie set both before and after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman – with Hemsworth starring alongside Charlize Theron (back as Ravenna) and franchise newcomers Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow) portraying Ravenna’s sister, Freya, and Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak) as Sara, one of Hemsworth’s fellow warrior who starts off serving Freya.
Sara, by presumably no coincidence, has the same name as the Huntsman’s late wife mentioned in Snow White and the Huntsman. Winter’s War is shaping up to a “soft reboot” of the Snow White/Huntsman franchise that largely ignores the existence of certain characters from Snow White and the Huntsman – including, Sam Spruell as Ravenna’s brother Finn and, of course, Kristen Stewart’s Snow White – but carries over key elements related to the Huntsman’s backstory established in its predecessor. In other words, it probably won’t be happily ever after for Hemsworth and Chastain in Winter’s War.
For more evidence of that, you need look no further than the latest (make that the last) Winter’s War theatrical trailer, which you can watch above. The new Huntsman preview, like the trailers that’ve come before, outlines the events that led to Freya becoming a (literally) cold-hearted warlord who seeks to rule the movie’s fantasy setting – before, years later, resurrecting her sister (following her death at Snow White’s hands) and working alongside her to rule everything; Freya, of course, being unaware of Ravenna’s betrayal all those years before. However, it appears Hemsworth’s Huntsman ultimately winds up having to fight both Freya and Ravenna without Sara at this side, as (presumably) Sara has been killed by that point in the film.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War was originally going to be written and directed by Frank Darabont of The Shawshank Redemption and The Walking Dead season 1 fame, but Darabont ended up dropping out before filming on the project began – with Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules (2014)) and Craig Mazin (The Hangover 2 & 3) assuming screenwriting duties instead, while Snow White and the Huntsman‘s visual effects supervisor Cedric Nicolas-Troyer called the shots in his directorial debut. We’ll never know if Darabont’s version of Winter’s War would’ve been any better, but the one that we are getting doesn’t stand out from other darker and grittier fairy tale-inspired blockbusters released in recent memory – and already, the “gritty Frozen reboot” jokes about Winter’s War are closing in fast on their expiration date.
On the other hand, Snow White and the Huntsman certainly has its fans who would be game for another adventure set in the same universe – especially now that fan-favorites Hemsworth and Chastain are paired together (as the movie’s heroes), with Blunt having joined Theron on the villains’ side (cue all those “Captain Marvel tryout” jokes). Right now it seems doubtful that Winter’s War will amount to much more than a passable, if instantly disposable, big-budget fantasy adventure romp that fails to keep the Huntsman franchise going the way that Universal would like it to – but then again, the fact that The Huntsman is even a franchise at all is a surprise, so perhaps Winter’s War will defy expectations too.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War opens in U.S. theaters on April 22nd, 2016.
Source: Universal Pictures