Highlander was one of the coolest, edgiest action franchises of the 80s and it spawned a great TV show which may have been even better than the feature films. Since 2008, talk of a Highlander reboot has been ongoing. After many starts and stops, things began to pick up in 2016 when John Wick co-director Chad Stahelski joined the production. The recent announcement of Henry Cavill joining the Highlander reboot has solidified plans moving forward.
Here’s everything we know about Henry Cavill’s Highlander reboot so far.
HENRY CAVILL AND THE CLAN MACLEOD
The big question at the moment is just exactly who Henry Cavill will be playing. The original 1986 film saw Christopher Lambert star as Connor MacLeod and the Highlander series starred Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod, so the prevailing thought is that Cavill will somehow be part of the MacLeod Clan if not Connor.
Ever since Henry Cavill stepped away (or was he pushed?) from playing Superman, he’s been on the lookout for a new franchise to lead. True, he is leading the way on Netflix’s The Witcher and he’s now preparing to film the sequel to Enola Holmes where he plays the famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, with hopes of more Holmes films in the future.
Cavill, though, is looking for something to fill the loss of Superman. He was more than excited to announce via his Instagram that he was stepping into the Highlander universe saying, “Very exciting news today! I’ve been a fan of Highlander since I was lad. From the movies in all of their 80s, Queen slathered glory to the TV show with an actor who looked remarkably like one of my brothers.”
Being not shy with swords, and having a director as talented as Chad Stahelski at the helm, this is an opportunity like no other. Deep diving into franchise storytelling with all the tools at our disposal, is going to make this an adventure I (and hopefully all of you) shall never forget.”
IT’S IN GOOD HANDS
Chad Stahelski has been slow developing the Highlander reboot for a number of years now. The John Wick co-director (he also went solo on John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, and the upcoming John Wick 4) will be working off a script penned by Kerry Williamson.
During John Wick 3’s editing phase, Stahelski had given an update on the progress of the reboot telling Entertainment Weekly, “Still working on the development of that,” said Stahelski. “Highlander is such a massive property. Luckily, the studio (Lionsgate) is really behind me in this. I truly believe this is one of those properties that could actually sustain a good universe, meaning a TV show or something. And to go out there, and just haphazardly throw together what we think would be a quick sword fighting-immortal movie, I think would be a mistake. And honestly, the people behind this, the studio behind this, they’re dying for this to go. If anything, I’m the one holding it back, and trying to creatively lay out everything. We just don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner creatively, like happened with the original.”
More than likely Stahelski was referring to the second film in the franchise, Highlander II: The Quickening where filmmakers decided to change the Clan MacLeod’s backstory and make them aliens. It was a change that proved to be a terrible one as it flopped at the box office. Russell Mulcahy was so disappointed with the end result that he went off and made a renegade director’s cut that removed all references to aliens.
HIGHLANDER REBOOT PLOT
It’s way too early to tell exactly what direction Stahelski is going with his reboot. Will he tell the story from the beginning, giving the MacLeod history a once over? Knowing that it has been quite some time since The Highlander was a main part of our lexicon, some type of review should be expected. Grabbing new fans for a potential franchise will be key so allowing them to understand the MacLeod history will be important in building the new Highlander world.
Here’s how director Chad Stahelski describes what he’s planning for Henry Cavill’s Highlander movie…
“I think I’m a better fan of superhero movies than I would ever be a director of one. So I’m going to stay in the outer periphery of that. Look at the projects in the past. I love John Wick. Is that kind of a superhero? Yeah, in a kind of hyper way absolutely. You look at Highlander. Yeah, that’s kind of a different thing. It’s a little bit more grounded, but yes, you could see the hero in that. If you look at the other projects I’m attached to, they all kind of have heroes in them. Just not with capes and kryptonite.”
The Highlander movies followed Christopher Lambert as Connor McLeod, an immortal born in the Highlands of Scotland hundreds of years ago… and he is still alive. The great Sean Connery had a big part in it as well, playing Connor’s mentor. The television show followed Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod, of similar origins. Duncan eventually showed up in a movie, but it wasn’t well received. No word yet if either actor might be pulled in to be part of the new movie, perhaps in a cameo.
The Highlander original spawned three sequels, the aforementioned Highlander II: The Quickening, Highlander III: The Sorcerer, and Highlander: Endgame, which saw a Connor and Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) team-up.
After those four movies, the Highlander franchise did see one made-for-TV movie with Highlander: The Source, which premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2007.
The Highlander franchise didn’t focus on just feature films. Highlander: The Series ran for six seasons and brought Paul in as Duncan another immortal from the MacLeod clan even bringing in Lambert’s Connor for the series’ first episode so he can train Duncan in the Highlander ways.
On top of the popular TV series, the franchise also had an animated series, aptly titled Highlander: The Animated Series, which enjoyed a two-season run.
The franchise also gave a go of a spin-off called Highlander: The Raven in which the original TV series’ popular character Amanda Darieux was given the lead. The Raven only lasted two seasons.
Henry Cavill joining the MacLeod Clan stems from the recent announcement that J.J. Abrams has been given the Warner Bros. greenlight to reboot (again) the Superman story. While it’s a no-brainer that Cavill could, would, and should reprise his role as Clark Kent, Abrams is taking the story in a whole new direction. He has brought in noted author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates to write the script and it is said they will be focusing on introducing to fans a black Superman. Unsure is if the plan is to make Clark Kent black or to introduced another DC character in Calvin Ellis, who took on the mantle of Superman.
Of course, Henry Cavill has stated numerous times in the recent past his desire to return as Superman. He has played Superman in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, and also Zack Snyder’s recut Zack Snyder’s Justice League. He’s always been a fan favorite.
WHEN’S THE RELEASE DATE?
As of right now, the Highlander reboot does not have a date set to it. Stahelski is currently in pre-production with John Wick 4, so it may be some time before more updates come from the Highlander camp, especially ones concerning dates. Other than the announcement of Henry Cavill joining the production, no other actors have been announced.
PAST ATTEMPTS TO REBOOT HIGHLANDER
The Highlander remake’s previous director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) left the Highlander remake back in 2012 because he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Summit Entertainment on the direction of the story. He had joined Highlander after leaving the production of another remake, The Crow.
Highlander seems like it’s a cursed production. Director Justin Lin was once attached to direct the remake but was lured away to make more Fast & Furious movies. At one point Ryan Reynolds was attached was attached to star in Highlander but that too fell by the wayside.
The Highlander reboot was originally set for release in 2011 (of course, that didn’t happen), and then pushed to 2014. Now it looks like the film won’t see the light of day for a couple more years at least.