Screenwriter Zak Penn Reviving The Argonauts for Fox

August 12, 2008

The Argo

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?

Jason and the ArgonautsAs 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.

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Toga! Toga! Toga! Bring on the sword and sandle flicks; its a genre right for a come back. New effects, big battles, half naked women for the guys, half naked men for the ladies, and more homoerotic subtext then you can shake a spear at.

goudos on Aug 12, 2008


Sounds cool. I'd love to see that story on the big screen. And I know of the Argonauts b/c of my mythology, not from a '60s movie. Though I think I saw that too...

dave13 on Aug 12, 2008


i loved the original harryhausen version and these movies like clash of the titans and even the sinbad movies are begging and have been begging for remakes with todays technology! this movie should be as if not more awesome cinematically as teh original. can't wait to see it come to life, so to speak...

thejugfather on Aug 12, 2008


I totally agree with the jugfather's comments. I was talking with my son about that very thing after seeing the new Mummy film. The Sinbad movies especially would I love to see recreated as well as the ancient Greek myths. I just hope they can really bring a sense of the mythos of these stories. Harryhausen has been known to disparage some of the new films because in their ability to create such realistic effects sometimes the fantasy element seems to get lost. LOTR's proved that that is not necessarily a forgone conclusion. Although I truly hope that that stupid mechanical owl in Clash of the Titans is lost permanently! I also think that the Alex Billington has nailed it when he tells us that these movies need to come of age so to speak and writing and character are sooo important to pulling this off well. I really hate it when they spend all this money on great effects (which I want!) but then chintz out when it comes to acting, character, and great writing. Perhaps these writers can do for this genre As has been done with the comic book films of recent days. I grew up on that genre in the 60's as well. They have shown that it can be done. Now let's do it again.

Richard Geer on Aug 12, 2008


If its like "300" it would be cool, then Mr. Garrison and Zurksees?? can do some more scissoring!!

HOLY SHT on Aug 12, 2008


Zak Penn, WHO CARES ABOUT THIS GUY. Why does Marvel KEEP him around. I was SOOO disappointed with both Xmen3 and the incredible hulk. He needs a new career.

Dustyman1505 on Aug 13, 2008


I don't know what you guys have against the "sword-and-sandal genre". I, as a historian, think that is an awesome way to know more about our ocidental roots, and make my suggestions of literature something interesting for my students! Ok, some movies are not exactly what we expected, like The Clash of Titans .. but let's hope that these ancient myths inspire new heroes. With less blood this time.

Denis on Aug 1, 2010

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