While speaking with Collider, John Wick and John Wick: Chapter Two director Chad Stahleski dished in-depth on his upcoming plans for the Highlander reboot.
Revealing his ideal plan is to expand upon the Highlander existing mythology from both the television series and films which could lead to multiple films along with keeping the iconic Queen music intact with John Wick composer Tyler Bates (Watchmen, Guardians of The Galaxy, 300) heading up that end of things.
Here’s what Chad had to say concerning what to keep and what to throw to side.
“If you go back and watch the original Highlander, whether the quality holds up or not or the filmmaking process holds up, there are things about that movie beneath just the shots and the lighting, there’s a mythology there, for some reason, it hooks us. We love that world. everybody loves the immortal realm. Everybody loves the code — There can be only one. There’s something about it that hooks you, hooks me, hooks all the fanboys about it. I went so far as I know every episode of all six seasons, plus the seventh season if you count Raven as a series, plus the novels, there’s something about the world that’s hooking.”
Considering the film sequels were mostly garbage mainly the alien stuff that was introduced in Highlander II: The Quickening then quickly abandoned in any other follow up material. It sounds like the television mythology will be reworked into this reboot.
“Point being I can’t see Highlander without Queen, without the queen center, without having Freddy Mercury, Prince of the Universe, and all this stuff. I can’t picture the movie in my head without it.”
“We had a great composer on John Wick 1 and 2, Tyler Bates, who we think is one of the best in the business especially for meta-reality — Guardians of the Galaxy, 300, John Wick. I’ve already talked extensively with him about how can we take the magic of what Freddie Mercury and Queen gave us and how can we transpose that to modern day and give us that edge?”
The film is still in development stages and the studio has yet to cast its leads as well. Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds had been attached at one point to play Connor and there had been rumblings that Tom Hardy was given an offer to replace him. I’m of course rooting for Hardy considering he’s already taken over an iconic genre role with Mad Max.
“We’re currently doing a bit of work on the overall plot structure. When I came on board, they were trying to reinvent the single Highlander property. We’ve gone since back in and we would like to really expand the world, so we consider the same shortcomings don’t happen again that happened on the original project, meaning you have one great movie and four questionable followups. We want to develop a property that can give us — and again it’s not about marketing, it’s not so much about the financials, it’s about how can we make a more mythological, chapter one, chapter two, what’s a great way to tell this story?”
It also sounds like Chad is indeed looking to add the more interesting immortal mythology that the television show brought to the table when the sequels failed so miserably at it. Adding that they are indeed attempting to look at it as a high-end trilogy.
This could mean we might be seeing both Connor and Duncan in these movies.
“I think the TV series hit on a lot of great stuff wasn’t in the feature, between the watchers and all the different types of immortals. How do we get this into a feature mode before we dribble it into the TV world? Well, let’s restructure it in parts, let’s look at it like it was a TV show, let’s look at it like it was a high-end trilogy. How to we tell the story of the gathering the quickenings, the immortals and how do we really build this world out even more so than the original project. That’s what we’re restructuring right now. It’s taking all the good stuff that we had before I was involved in the project from the script; redeveloping the script to give us really good chapters one, two and three; and expanding the world.
The vision we’re trying to get across and what we’re trying to develop, I equate very close to Star Wars. The first one us a very satisfying ending but it does leave the door open and that’s kind of how I see this. I would really like to expand it over three. I see the gathering happening over three. It’s tricky don’t get me wrong, that’s why we’re still developing it. We want to be able to tell three complete stories that all kind of fit. I think the Star Wars trilogy, at least up to The Empire Strikes Back, is a good example of how we want to process it.”
Lionsgate and Summit obviously knew what they were getting into when they hired Chad after making two John Wick films as he bluntly stated he’s looking not looking to shoot for a PG Highlander movie, as heads are being lobbed off on a regular basis and where the ratings will land will be up to the MPAA as he’s not really concerned. Comparing the film to how they worked on John Wick shooting to make the best film possible rather than trying to shoot towards a certain rating.
“Thus far the people in charge of the pocket book and all that, they’ve asked [the rating question] and I said, ‘Look, the way I work, the way we did John Wick, we never set about making a hardcore rated-R action movie, we said we’re going to do this, this is the design we want to do, this is what we feel is fun. If heads coming apart is an R, great. If heads coming apart is a PG, great. Ratings are second to what we’re going to do. Highlander, I think the action is — at least what’s in my head — is going to fall on a line, for sure. We want to design it what we think is aesthetically cool, and so far I’ve met no resistance, they’re like, ‘Look, whatever you did with John Wick with the gun stuff, we want you to try and do with the sword stuff. We want you to make something cool and something unique, and something that’s going to make audiences say ‘Wow, I haven’t seen that before.'”
“So I think that’s the road they’re letting me go down and what side of the line it falls on… I certainly don’t want to be gory for gory’s sake, and I don’t want to be clean for clean’s sake. We’re not trying to hit four corners, we want to make great urban myth that goes through time, and we’ll see where that lands.”
Basically, it sounds like Lionsgate wants John Wick with swords and that’s fine by me.