What do the worst comic-book movie, the worst Alan Moore adaptation, and the movie that made Sean Connery quit acting all have in common? They’re all The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Now, nearly two decades after the original, it looks like Hollywood is ready to give it another shot. One thing is for sure – it definitely can’t be worse than the first attempt.
The original The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had a lot going for it on paper. They had great source material, with the Bran Stoker Award-winning comic series by the legendary Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. The comics portrayed a group of Victorian-era superheroes based on classic literary fiction teaming up to fight crime. The premise was great, but the movie just couldn’t execute. They also got the late, great Sean Connery on board. Apparently, Connery cost them so much that they weren’t able to hire too many other big stars. With a reported salary of $17 million for the film, this would definitely be a big chunk of any budget. The rest of the cast included Shane West, Stuart Townsend, Richard Roxburgh, Peta Wilson, Naseeruddin Shah, and more.
Sean Connery missed out on quite a few roles in his career that he likely regretted. He turned down both the role of The Architect in The Matrix and the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Connery probably didn’t want to turn down another potential blockbuster role, so he took on the role of Allan Quartermain. The experience of working on The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was apparently bad enough to drive Connery to retire from acting forever. He told The Times in an interview “It was a nightmare. The experience had a great influence on me, it made me think about showbiz. I get fed up dealing with idiots.” Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill both disliked the adaptation of their work as well. Overall, the movie was a failure on just about every level.
The experience of working on the movie might have been palatable for Sean Connery if the movie was at least watchable. Unfortunately, this would not be the case. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was critically panned. It currently holds a 17% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest of any Alan Moore adaptation. The audience score is Rotten too, with a 44%. Overall, the film just could not live up to the lofty expectations of the source material. Hopefully, this reboot can fix the sins of the original.
While Sean Connery likely wouldn’t touch this reboot with a ten-foot pole even if he were alive, there’s always the chance that it can do the source material justice. The reboot is brought to us by 20th Century Studios, who are making the movie for Hulu. Justin Haythe is penning the screenplay with Don Murphy, Susan Montford, and Erwin Stoff producing. No word on the cast members yet, but it doesn’t seem likely that any of the original actors will be keen to return to the roles that crashed and burned so infamously. Then again, there’s nothing quite like a redemption story.