Considering that there are two big Hercules movies on the horizon, we wouldn't blame you if you confused director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) and star Kellan Lutz (Twilight) prequel film Hercules: The Legend Begins with that adaptation of The Thracian War comic book series starring Dwayne Johnson and directed by Brett Ratner.
In fact, it was probably the ongoing confusion between the two films that brought Lutz and Co. to the 2013 New York Comic Con ready to plant their flag firmly in the sand, stating that Legend Begins is THE Hercules movie you need to see. Were they successful? Read on to find out.
In attendance were stars Kellan Lutz, Liam McIntyre (Spartacus), Gaia Weiss (Mary Queen of Scots) and action icon Scott Adkins (Expendables 2), along with co-producer Jonathan Yunger and director Renny Harlin.
- The moderator's first question was to Renny Harlin regarding Kellan Lutz' workout regiment. His answer was a lot of double entendres before settling into an actual explanation that he wanted a non-stereotypical Hercules - cut, but not swollen, more realistic.
- The moderator's next question was why Harlin wanted to make the film at all. He first stoked the Comic-Con fan fire then said that Hercules is everyone's fantasy and dream of movie adventure experience.
- Liam McIntyre added that they filmed in Bulgaria, where "anything goes. It's amazing."
- Kellan claimed that getting this leading man role and getting to ride horses and fight "Spartacus" (McIntyre) is a dream come true.
- Weiss told a story about how Harlin came all the way to London and randomly found her after an extensive search. She had trained for the film in order to help a friend. She's a newcomer (and it showed when she was facing the 'Con crowd).
- McIntyre talked about growing playing Greek and Roman-themed mythology games - which made it perfect for both his role in Spartacus and when Harlin approached him for a role in the film.
- McIntyre claimed that Hercules "is the first superhero." He added that this film tells that origin story "with pinnace."
- Harlin big-upped Scott Adkins and his marital arts prowess. Adkins revealed that he snuck a copy of the script, and was happy to get the chance to actually play a a well-rounded character (a rare allowance for the action star).
- Harlin echoed the Hercules as original superhero idea, and challenged the established iconography of Hercules, claiming he wanted to stick close to the actual writings about the character, and tell the origin story about how he became a hero.
- Adkins plays Hercules' human father and the character is said to have a complex, dysfunctional backstory. They wanted to focus on the love story, not a brooding action flick. The film will be about Hercules' journey around the world just to come home and be with the woman he loves.
- Weiss appreciated being the lady on a set full of oiled-up beefcakes. Harlin joked, "Huge oil budget."
- Adkins had to shave his legs; in fact, all the guys had to go hairless. Harlin took the blame; the ladies in the crowd were appreciative.
- Harlin talked about hating post-converted 3D and how he ABSOLUTELY went into his use of it by creating the film AROUND the medium in the immersive sense - "It's not about arrows popping out at your eye."
- Yunger joked that they new Lutz was their man, because when he walked into the office, all the girls were staring. McIntyre added "and some of the men."
- Harlin and Weiss launched Lutz into discussion about the love scenes in the film. Lutz tried to deflect, claiming a tight camaraderie with the cast - but stumbled when he said he and Weiss had to make love on a goat. He meant goat rug. Weiss told a story about her and Lutz shooting the scene and eating ice cream in between takes. He said "It's so good... I don't want to rush it." We THINK he was referring to the ice cream. A story about Hercules' snake pendant melted down into jokes about Lutz trying to 'put his snake' in Weiss' mouth. Classy!
- Harlin talked about Bulgaria and how it allowed them to save a LOT of money. No one confessed what went on after hours. Lutz is still there shooting Expendables 3. McIntyre joked that he's now an official citizen. They had dinner, danced, sang karaoke; Weiss and Lutz wouldn't show their expert dance moves. Boo. Other activities the studio would frown upon took place.
- The horses on set were pretty wild (don't let PTA hear your say that). The were Arabian stallions; every horse enthusiast in the crowd gasped in horror.
- Harlin claims that he used super-speed cameras to create slo-mo sequences to capture "the language" of Hercules' action. Since a demigod moves faster than humans, he felt the choice is organic and logical, not gimmicky.
- McIntyre described the difference between TV and movies. TV allows time to have the character, story and drama grow in you; movies require immediate investment of all your energy. Basically a marathon vs. a sprint.
A trailer for the film was screened. It was an extensive setup of the backstory of Hercules, detailing how his love is promised to his brother, causing Hercules to rebel against his family and face exile by his father (Adkins). While in the world, he is sold as a slave, ends up in the Coliseum, shocks the world as a gladiator and soon finds out that he's a demigod.
The trailer was light on the mystical elements of the legend, with only a brief sequence of Hercules' sword being endowed with the lightning of Zeus. It was clear that the film was indeed conceived for 3D (even though we only saw it in 2D); however, it's best described as borrowing elements of Troy, Gladiator and stylistic cues from 300 - without necessarily meeting the level of any of those respective films. Nonetheless, it was epic in scope (thanks green screen) and contained moments of action that definitely stand out as cool.
Hercules: The Legend Begins will be in theaters sometime in "First Quarter" 2014.