The Conan the Barbarian reboot hits theaters this summer and early signs indicate that it's fashioned largely after the comic book incarnation of the titular muscle-bound brute. Another well-sculpted ancient world hero, Hercules, has been given the graphic novel makeover before; and now the previously rumored adaptation of that story seems to be moving ahead, still under the direction of Brett Ratner.
Ratner is currently in talks with MGM studio heads to helm a film version of the comic book "Hercules: The Thracian Wars," which would be his first in that genre since X-Men: The Last Stand - and could be the next best thing for Ratner, since he had to pass on directing the new Conan flick.
History buffs have often given Steve Moore's "Thracian Wars" comic book credit for adhering closely to the original myths about the Greek demigod Heracles - better known by his Roman name, Hercules. Here's an official description of the character, as portrayed in Moore's work:
Fourteen-hundred years ago, a tormented soul walked the Earth that was neither man nor god. Hercules, powerful son of the god king Zeus, received nothing but suffering his entire life. After twelve arduous labors and the loss of his family, this dark, world-weary soul turned his back on the gods, finding his only solace in bloody battle.
Vulture indicates that Ratner (if he signs on) would set to work this summer on the new Hercules movie, which has reportedly been scripted by Ryan Condal, the fellow responsible for Alex Proyas' upcoming Paradise Lost adaptation.
There have been numerous variations of the Hercules story released over the last couple of decades - including Disney's 1997 animated feature and the '90s show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - but the last feature-length live-action cinematic variation on the myth was released in 1983, with Lou "The Hulk" Ferrigno playing the legendary warrior.
Check out the trailer for the 1983 Hercules flick below:
I bring all that up to say: it's certainly been a while since the Hercules story was brought to life in cinematic form without the results being rather cheesy - or full of song & dance numbers (thank you, Disney). In this day and age, you can all but guarantee that this new Hercules movie will be promoted as a gritty and darker interpretation of the mythological hero.
Does a picture like that, in the hands of Brett Ratner, sound promising? While I would argue that Ratner actually did a better job directing the conclusion to the original X-Men trilogy than he usually receives credit for, that flick definitely had some significant flaws - and since the remainder of his filmography is composed of Rush Hour movies and so-so titles like Red Dragon and The Family Man, it's difficult for me to recommend him for this job.
On the other hand - with admirable source material and a (hopefully) solid script in his hands, Ratner could conceivably deliver a decent Hercules movie. It certainly can't be any sillier than the Ferrigno pic, right?
In the meantime, Ratner's next onscreen project will be the action/comedy film Tower Heist, which stars Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy.