Red Sonja has finally found a star. Millennium, the company behind the sword and sorcery feature film, has chosen Hannah John-Kamen to star as the red-headed superhero.
The project has been long in the planning stages and the hiring of John-Kamen represents a huge step forward for Millennium. According to Joey Soloway, who co-wrote Red Sonja with the animated Tomb Raider series showrunner and executive producer Tasha Huo, Hannah John-Kamen is the perfect fit to play Red Sonja.
“Hannah is a very talented actress who we’ve been following for years and she IS Red Sonja,” said Soloway her statement via The Hollywood Reporter. “Her range, sensibilities and strength are all qualities we have been looking for and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this journey together.”
Hannah John-Kamen has given Millennium, Soloway, and Huo an abundance of material to base their decision on. The 31-year-old actress began her career finding time on many BBC series such as Misfits, Whitechapel, The Hour, Happy Valley, and Cucumber. She had a brief role in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, then moved on to The Tunnel, a short appearance in Game of Thrones and Black Mirror. She earned major fans for her starring role on the sci-fi series Killjoys.
Hannah John-Kamen had bigger roles in Tomb Raider and Ready Player One before she played the villain Ava Starr/Ghost in Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Most recently, John-Kamen is playing Jill Valentine in the upcoming horror film, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.
With Hannah John-Kamen just recently being brought on board, Red Sonja doesn’t have a premiere date, nor does it have an actual date to go in front of the cameras. It does, though, seem to be the farthest along a new Red Sonja has gotten since the 1985 movie. Let’s hope this time they are able to finally follow through with the entire production.
Past Attempts To Make Red Sonja
This will not be the first attempt at a Red Sonja film. In fact, one has already been made. The film came out in 1985 and starred Brigitte Nielsen as the titular character and also co-starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as Lord Kalidor and Sandahl Bergman as the evil Queen Gedren of Berkubane.
The film was an absolute bomb. It was made for almost $18 million, which at the time was a significant budget, but the movie brought in a mere $6.9 million at the box office. It even prompted co-star Schwarzenegger to remark via Xfinity, “It’s the worst film I have ever made.” Then he joked, “Now I tell my kids that, if they get out of line, they’ll be forced to watch Red Sonja ten times in a row. It must be working, because I’ve never had much trouble with any of them.”
Despite that horrific movie, a second helping of Red Sonja continued to be bounced around. Robert Rodriguez, along with his Troublemaker Studios production company, was ready to get a Red Sonja rolling in 2008 that would have had actress Rose McGowan appear as big Red. That fell through.
In 2010, Simon West was brought on to direct a new Red Sonja. Avi Lerner, who was producing the movie at the time, said he wanted Amber Heard to take over the role of Red Sonja. But two years later, during the premiere of The Expendables 2, West informed fans that Red Sonja was stuck in production hell.
Fast forward to 2017 and Millennium Films. They took over the project though Avi Lerner was still attached to produce, and added were Joe Gatta, Cinelou Films’ Mark Canton, and Courtney Solomon. It was then reported in September 2018 that Millennium was looking at Bryan Singer to direct the film. By October of that same year, Singer was confirmed. Things seemed to finally be set. Until they weren’t.
In February 2019, Millennium removed Red Sonja from their production slate because of the sexual abuse allegations leveled at Singer. The director, who is well known for movies such as The Usual Suspects, the X-Men franchise, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, and Bohemian Rhapsody, has been the subject of many allegations of sexual abuse throughout his career. In fact, his travesties were so well known that 4,000 students, faculty, and alumni at the University of Southern California all signed a petition asking the University to remove the director’s name from one of its programs.
Red Sonja’s Origins
Red Sonja has been around since the early ‘70s. She was created for Marvel Comics by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith and debuted in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian. As her beginnings are quite graphic, it is not known how Soloway and Huo plan to tackle it. Before she becomes Red Sonja, she is living happily with her family in a humble home. A group of mercenaries arrives, killing her family and burning down their home. When Red tries to defend herself, she is raped by the group’s leader and left for dead.
Her cries for revenge are heard though. The red goddess Scáthach arrives, giving Sonja incredible fighting skills that she can use if Sonja promises never to lie with a man unless the man can beat her in a fair fight. Will this be part of the story Soloway and Huo wish to tell?
Also unknown is just what Red Sonja will be wearing. Throughout most of her comic book time, Red Sonja appears in bikini armor. It is a chainmail bikini along with boots and gauntlets. Will this be how John-Kamen is to be dressed as Red Sonja?