John Wick director Chad Stahelski is still eager to reboot the Highlander franchise. The original Highlander starred Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod, an immortal warrior who's spent centuries battling other immortals in hopes of claiming the mysterious Prize. While the film wasn’t a success in the U.S., it became a huge hit overseas and the movie’s rich mythology, likeable heroes and awesome soundtrack by Queen saw it gain a cult audience on VHS and TV viewings.
This eventually led to a sprawling Highlander franchise, leading to a lot of projects of dubious quality. The original Highlander ends on a definitive note, with Connor MacLeod winning the Prize after all the other immortals are defeated. Regardless, Lambert would return for three further sequels that retconned this ending, but each of these sequels was critically lambasted, and would often ignore each other. There was also a long-running Highlander TV series starring Adrian Paul, who would eventually inherit the movie series when Lambert exited, ending with 2007's Highlander: The Source. The franchise also spawned a cartoon show, video games and an anime movie.
The last update on the Highlander reboot was that Lionsgate was very pleased with the script from Colony writer Ryan Condal, and it was being fast-tracked for a possible 2019 release. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, as a new interview with attached director Chad Stahelski over at EW suggests the movie is still very much in the development phase.
Right now, I’m very interested in doing the Highlander property. It’s scarily similar to John Wick. There’s a great mythology, it’s got an action-design challenge. What would a guy really be like after 500 years of practicing sword-work? I’m still a stunt guy at heart. You want to reinvent gunfights, how do you do it? You want to reinvent sword fighting, how do you do it? And that’s where we are at now. I love the first Highlander and I think I’m in a pretty good spot. The creative team, the producers and the studio that’s behind it have kind of said, ‘It’s yours to play with.’
A major issue with the original Highlander movie series is that the first film was designed as a standalone project, leading to lots of awkward retconning in later sequels to make it work. The concept itself is loaded with possibilities as it can span multiple timelines and scenarios, and the TV series itself was better able to capitalize on this element over the course of six seasons. Stahelski has spoken before of his plans for a Highlander trilogy, with each movie organically linking to the next. This could be one reason the reboot is still being developed, in addition to the filmmaker being kept busy by the John Wick franchise.
Stahelski and co-director David Leitch (Deadpool 2) also reinvented cinematic gunplay for the original John Wick, so it would be very exciting to see what he could do with sword-fighting. Hopefully, the project will move forwards, as the Highlander reboot has languished in development hell for close to a decade. Ryan Reynolds was once attached to star, with Tom Cruise also being rumored as MacLeod’s mentor, but every time it seems to come together, it quickly falls apart again.