Screenwriter Zak Penn Reviving The Argonauts for Fox
by Alex Billington
August 12, 2008
X-Men and Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn is the latest to dabble in the sword-and-sandal genre. Although he's still working on The Avengers for Marvel, Penn has been hired by Fox to put together a screenplay titled The Argonauts. The story is based on a Penn's original retelling of the classic Greek tale about the Argonauts, a band of heroic sailors that accompanied Jason to Colchis before the Trojan War. Most may recognize the name from the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, although the name Argonauts actually comes from their ship, the Argo. Penn is both writing and producing alongside of John Davis (Eragon, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem). Is the return of the sword-and-sandal trend more than a fad?
As the article on Variety points out, there are numerous Hollywood sword-and-sandal projects currently in development, the obvious impact of the huge success of 300 last year. From Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans remake to Tarsem's War of Gods to Peter Berg's Hercules: The Thracian Wars to the inevitable sequel to 300. Obviously, it will come down to those projects that have solid stories developed with some unique aspect more than just films being produced to make money and capitalize on the popularity of the sword-and-sandal genre. I hate using that term to begin with, but it's the only way to easily describe these types of movies and this current trend. As I've mentioned in numerous discussions, it seems comic book movies have progressed from being a fad into an actual genre, hence why I'm wondering if the same is possible here.
Like "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey", the history behind the Argonauts (which you can spend hours reading about on Wikipedia) is actually quite fascinating. And thankfully Zak Penn is no mediocre writer - all of his scripts have been top notch. Right now I'm looking forward to Leterrier's version of Clash of the Titans the most because he says he's going to pay tribute to the legendary Ray Harryhausen. The classic Jason and the Argonauts also featured some great Harryhausen special effects and although I know Penn's version is probably going to differ vastly, it doesn't mean I still can't hold out hope for some of that same cinematic magic. It's that kind of unique style that will make one of these stand out more than the other.