Director Guy Ritchie is no stranger to adaptation, having already updated Sherlock Holmes for modern audiences. In fact, the filmmaker – who made his name with crime comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – is next turning 1960s spy TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. into a big-screen action/comedy, starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer this summer. Thereafter, Ritchie will put his mark on another well-established story.
We’ve known for a while now about Ritchie’s new take on the legendary King Arthur, with Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam in the lead role. Reportedly envisioned as a potential six-part franchise, Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur (as it’s currently known) aims to bring a more raw Arthur to the forefront. Now we have some new details about the film’s version of the iconic king.
EW has published an article that reveals Hunnam’s Arthur was orphaned as an infant and raised by three prostitutes in 5th-century London. Described as a more street-wise take on the character, he takes it upon himself to protect the people living in his neighborhood. Ritchie hopes to develop a more compelling version of the traditionally moral Arthur by giving him a rougher moral compass, having told EW:
“I think where the pitfall has often been is trying to make King Arthur bland and nice, and nice and bland. The two qualities make rather compatible bed companions. Unfortunately, they’re not interesting to watch. Luke Skywalker was always the most uninteresting character in Star Wars because he’s the good guy. Good guys are boring.”
The fact that the roguish Han Solo is infinitely more popular than the younger, more naive Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars is proof enough that Ritchie’s incarnation of Arthur could strike a chord with moviegoers. After all, the bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold is an archetype that rarely fails to capture attention. Still, though the new film will make some adjustments with Arthur’s origin, the character doesn’t stray too far from Ritchie’s skill set, according to Hunnam:
“[Arthur’s] a little bit rough around the edges, but he’s basically a survivor. He’s a hustler. He’s a street kid. There’s definitely a harder edge to him than people would imagine. It’s sort of classic Guy Ritchie stuff.”
Here are a few images giving us our first look of Hunnam in costume as Arthur:
While the minimalist look of the character will likely evolve to feature a set of armor once he assumes the throne, Ritchie’s Arthur is clearly a character who’s not afraid to fight and even bears a few nasty scars as proof, as evidenced by the above promotional images.
Hollywood’s last take on the Arthur character was director Antoine Fuqua’s 2004 King Arthur, a film that was a modest commercial success worldwide, though it received a middling critical reception. That release also chose to shy away from fantastical elements in favor of a wholly grounded approach. Ritchie’s film, however, will reportedly feature giant snakes, war elephants and “a monstrous Viking-like creature known as The Nemesis”.
Needless to say, this isn’t the same old Arthurian tale. Whether or not it manages to launch a franchise (or even a Knights of the Round Table shared universe?), that’s another matter.
Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur will open in U.S. theaters on July 22, 2016.