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There can be only one, Supa-Fans! Well, in this case, there can be only two. Because if you haven’t heard that The Witcher star Henry Cavill has been tapped to take over from Christopher Lambert as the lead in a fresh reboot of the Highlander series by now, you’ve probably lost your head to the Kurgan’s blade.
As one of the most beloved and classic films to come from the 1980s’ fascination with sword and sorcery movies, the original 1986 Highlander movie would not only spawn several sequels (admittedly some of far more questionable quality than others) but also multiple spinoff television series, books, and other media. As far back as 2008 plans for a fresh reboot of the franchise were afoot when Lionsgate subsidiary Summit Entertainment announced they had bought the rights to the franchise, but it is only now that movement on the long-gestating project is moving forward with filming finally eyeing a potential 2024 start date.
So with Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod set to return to the big screen under the direction of John Wick filmmaker Chad Stahelski, we thought it might be timely to sharpen our swords and see what plans are afoot for the future of the Highlander franchise.
Who Will Star In The ‘Highlander’ Reboot?
At this stage, the only confirmed casting is that of Cavill himself, presumably in the title role once made famous by Lambert. While several other big names have been floated since the project was first announced in 2008, no official casting announcements have been made and roles like Connor MacLeod’s mentor Ramirez (played by Sean Connery) and the villainous Kurgan (Clancy Brown) are still yet to be filled.
That being said, former WWE wrestler and Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista was once considered an early potential candidate for Brown’s Kurgan, while the late Ahsoka star Ray Stevenson was also rumoured to be in contention at one stage as well.
Meanwhile, long before both Cavill and Stahelski were attached to the project, it was reported that the studio was hoping to land Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise for the role of Connery’s Ramirez, though the movie has passed through multiple hands and undergone several changes since then. For our money, we would love to see Brown switch sides and make up for his villainous past and return to the Highlander franchise as Cavill’s new mentor.
Will The ‘Highlander’ Reboot Be A Straight Remake Of The Original?
While Stahelski has teased that his reboot will feature many of the same characters as the original 1986 film, he has also revealed that he will also be borrowing elements from the Highlander television series that starred Adrian Paul as one of Connor MacLeod’s fellow immortals and clansmen Duncan MacLeod. Exactly what story elements the reboot will borrow from the television series remains to be seen, though it may hint at the possibility of another immortal MacLeod being introduced to audiences at some point.
Another, and probably far more likely option, is that Stahelski’s movie could potentially introduce the order of The Watchers first introduced in the Highlander season 1 finale. Much like their namesake in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, the Highlander’s Watchers were an ancient and secretive order that knew of the existence of immortals and monitored and documented their exploits down through the centuries. Moreover, the television series would also later go on to introduce a more radicalised offshoot of their order, dubbed The Hunters who would take it upon themselves to attempt to hunt and kill the immortals themselves in a bid to stop one from eventually claiming the Prize and ruling over humanity.
While this is all just speculation, Stahelski has also suggested that his movie will not be the only entry in the rebooted Highlander franchise, and it is the intention to establish a new world in which other movies can potentially follow. As such, it is unlikely that the first movie will actually see Cavill’s Connor MacLeod fight to the last man and receive the Prize by defeating the Kurgan.
What About The Music?
Lambert’s swordsmanship and dry wit weren’t the only things that made the original Highlander such a classic movie, and anyone who has seen the film knows both the action and the epic storytelling is taken to new heights by one of Hollywood’s greatest-ever soundtracks.
Featuring six original Queen songs that would later be released on their A Kind of Magic album, it’s hard to separate the appeal of the Highlander franchise with the iconic and inimitable vocals of the late Freddie Mercury. So perfect were Queen’s contributions to the original movie, that the song Princes of the Universe would also go on to become the title track for the Highlander television series.
Thankfully, Stahelski knows the importance of the movie’s original soundtrack and has promised that the original Queen songs will return in his movie, albeit “probably in a different way than you think”. Whatever that last caveat means, we will keep our fingers crossed he will not be seeking to replace Queen’s recordings with modern cover versions of the original songs.
With filming looking to start next year, we’re more excited than ever to see Highlander make its triumphant return to the pop culture landscape.