There can be only one… and that one will be Superman! Yes, over the weekend Deadline broke the news that the loooooooooong-gestating Highlander reboot has finally found itself a new leading man in Henry Cavill. Besides for most famously playing Superman/Clark Kent in the DCEU, the British-born Cavill has been collecting quite a list of genre roles, including Geralt of Riva in video game adaptation The Witcher and Sherlock Holmes in YA-spinoff adaptation Enola Holmes. His work as Geralt will probably come in handy the most here as there will a whole lot of sword-swinging involved.
Originally released in 1986, Highlander starred Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod, a Scottish warrior (played by a French-American actor) who dies during a battle in the 16th century, only to discover that he can’t actually stay dead. As he learns under the tutelage of Egyptian swordsman and soon-to-be best friend Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez (played by an actual Scotsman in Sean Connery), MacLeod is one of a rare group of Immortals who have roamed the Earth for centuries. They are immune to disease and injury, and can only be killed by decapitation. They are also bound together by an energy force called the Quickening which empowers them and draws them to each other and can be absorbed when one Immortal decapitates another. As a result, many take part in The Game, a tournament of sorts where they battle each other throughout time. The catchphrase “There can be only one” is often bandied about as it describes a prophecy that one day, when only two immortals survive, they will battle each other in a foreign land and the winner will inherit the Quickening power of all immortals before him.
Directed by Russel Mulcahy, that original film is a stone-cold classic, and not only because it has one of the greatest and most iconic soundtracks in movie history done by rock legends Queen. It would launch a franchise that lasted until 2007, but the various chapters in that franchise ranged massively in quality. On the good end of the spectrum you had the “Oh yeah, this is good and just as badass as the first movie” of Highlander: The Series, a TV series spinoff that followed Duncan MacLeod, Connor’s clansman, in an alternate timeline that posited that there were actually more immortals than the original movie implied and the Game had never ended.
On the utter bollocks end of the spectrum, you had the “WTF IS GOING ON?! NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!” of Highlander II: The Quickening, a sequel that somehow came up with entirely new mythology for the Immortals as alien rebels from the planet Zeist who were banished to be reborn as Immortals on Earth. It contradicted just about everything before and after it and is just plain terrible all around. In between those two extremes, you had three other movie sequels, and multiple spinoff TV series (one of them even animated) all of which played a little loose and fast when it came to the mythology of this universe.
So basically, what I’m saying is that if it chooses to take ideas from all the various iterations before (which it will apparently do) this upcoming reboot could go into some interesting places. As long as it’s not the planet Zeist. Hollywood has been attempting to remake/reboot the Highlander franchise since 2008, with several actors and directors attached. In 2016, John Wick co-director Chad Stahelski was put in the director’s chair, and he will still be sitting in it for Cavill, who will presumably be playing a new version of Connor MacLeod, although this is not confirmed. The actor is already very familiar with all the sword skills that will be required to play Connor, if that is the case. Cavill also took to Instagram where expressed his excitement for the role and also hinted at his preparation for playing a Scotsman.
When last we heard in June 2020, Stahelski said that the Highlander reboot was in “heavy development mode” with Ryan Condal (Colony, Rampage, Hercules) penning the script. At one point, Dave Bautista was in talks to play a new version of The Kurgan, the main antagonist of the first film who was MacLeod and Ramírez’s mortal enemy. A previous attempt at a reboot was also pursuing Tom Cruise to play Ramírez but he had been unavailable due to schedule conflicts with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. No word at all on whether either Bautista or Cruise would still be involved here or what the timelines for production on this new film will be.
Last Updated: May 24, 2021