King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is bringing audiences a new take on the King Arthur myth. With Guy Ritchie directing, it’s no surprise that this new Arthur is being portrayed as more of a gritty, street-wise version of the character than we’ve seen in other movies. Charlie Hunnam is playing Arthur, and he will certainly be bringing some of the edge and attitude he showed during his stint as a smoldering biker on Sons of Anarchy.
If Legend of the Sword does well at the box office, there will naturally be talk of sequels. Could this King Arthur end up serving as the launching point for an entire expanded universe based on the rich tradition of Arthurian legend?
According to producer Lionel Wigram, there had once been talk of a shared King Arthur universe that would have included origin stories for other important characters (via Collider). This talk however was very preliminary at best according to Wigram and there are no plans to further explore Arthurian mythology via a cinematic universe. As he said:
I think that we will go off in our own directions, but hopefully with a nod or a wink to those original stories. There’s certain things that we’re based on, so for example, a guy called Joby Harold, who was the person who came up with the original idea for this particular franchise, and his idea was to have separate origin stories for King Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin… I don’t think we’re quite going to go that way, as things change – we’ll see what happens, we’re making the first movie – but if we do get lucky enough to do more, it’ll be slightly different to that, but it will still be the same idea: to give everybody their separate journey, and in the course of the movie we meet our main characters, in a slightly different way from the original story, and hopefully it reinvents them in a fun way.
Legend of the Sword follows Arthur’s development from his time on the mean streets of old Londinium through his fateful decision to pull Excalibur from the stone, a move that forces him to come to terms with his true legacy. Jude Law plays the sorcerer Vortigern who becomes Arthur’s enemy, while Kamil Lemieszewski plays Merlin. Astrid Berges-Frisbey plays Guinivere and Djimon Hounsou is Sir Bedivere.
Though there certainly are enough characters in Arthurian legend to make for an expanded universe, the box office viability of such a venture would necessarily be limited. It isn’t even certain that there is much of an audience for a single King Arthur film, even one that seeks to rework the character as more of a modern-day action hero. Guy Ritchie does have a solid track-record at bringing literary figures to life, but King Arthur is not a character that has a huge built-in fanbase.
So, don’t look for those Merlin and Lancelot origin stories to be coming along any time soon. If King Arthur: Legend of the Sword does well at the box office, there certainly will be sequels, but going by Lionel Wigram’s comments the chances of there being a true Arthurian Cinematic Universe are pretty much zero.