For fans of the fantasy adventure series Xena: Warrior Princess, there may be good news on the way. According to the star who used to embody Xena, Lucy Lawless, there’s a reboot on the way.
In a conversation ComicBook.com had with Lucy Lawless posted this past Monday, the actress didn’t have a lot of specifics to reveal, but she did say she thinks a new Xena is coming. Lawless said she’s more confident about the prospects now than she was a few years ago, owed to a “really smart” idea that was pitched to her only a couple of days before the interview. She added that she thinks the key will be that there will be “new people” coming up in the entertainment industry who weren’t attached to the original series who will be able to “reimagine [Xena] for a new generation.”
There was an attempt to bring Xena back in the mid-2010s, helmed by producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost). One of the biggest differences between the series Grillo-Marxuach was developing and the original one Lucy Lawless starred in was the relationship between Xena and her companion Gabrielle (played Renee O’Connor in the original series). Many fans believed Xena and Gabrielle were lovers, but their relationship was never explicitly defined. In 2016, Grillo-Marxuach posted a series of blog posts (via The Hollywood Reporter) in which he said that it would be useless to make a new Xena show unless it explored the Xena/Gabrielle relationship which “could only be shown subtextually” in the original series.
As reported by The Mary Sue, in April 2017 Grillo-Marxuach announced he had left the reboot, citing “insurmountable creative differences” as the reason. Many believe the differences in question revolved around Grillo-Marxuach’s intention to highlight a more explicitly romantic relationship between the hero Lucy Lawless made famous and her companion Gabrielle. Five months later, The Hollywood Reporter reported that NBC had confirmed the reboot was dead, though the network remained open to the possibility of a reboot if the right idea came along.
A 21st century Xena: Warrior Princess series would potentially enjoy a lot of advantages the original series couldn’t. Obviously, special effects technology has advanced significantly. While the visual effects seen on Xena are impressive for their time, an episode produced in the 2020s would have the potential to look like a big-budget action film in comparison. As ComicBook.com notes in the site’s conversation with Lucy Lawless, single episodes of more contemporary fantasy series like HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s The Witcher likely had the budget “of an entire season of Xena.”
Speaking of more recent fantasy series, that’s another advantage a Xena reboot would enjoy — a market much friendlier to genre storytelling than when Lucy Lawless was playing the titular warrior. In the ’90s, the television landscape wasn’t exactly crowded with fantasy adventure series. Of course, at the risk of using far too many fantasy-themed metaphors, a more genre-friendly market could be a double-edged sword for a Xena reboot. While, as a fantasy adventure series, Xena: Warrior Princess was something of a novelty, a more contemporary reboot would have to work much harder to distinguish itself from similar shows.