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Go ahead and grab a shirt that you don’t mind getting shredded, because Zorro is about to come back into your life with his signature three slashes. You might also want to bring bandages and antiseptic, as Zorro now takes place in a dark future instead of the sunny southwest, so his vision might not be as good. Sony Pictures is pouring fuel back onto the swashbuckler’s fire by hiring playwright Chris Boal to take over screenwriting duties for the upcoming reboot. Playwrights are usually known for their grasp of dialogue, which may very well be one of the saving graces with this oddball project.
Sony started kicking this remake around two years ago, and as Deadline establishes once again, this pic will take the character into grittier territory, with a larger focus on realism as he is given an original backstory. We could talk at length about the overuse of origin stories, but we only have the rest of our lives. The fights will also play heavier into the overall look and feel, with less horseback riding stunts and more swordplay, dagger action, and fist fights. But as some of you may see this weekend with 300: Rise of an Empire, it takes more than just swords and face-pounding to make a great film.
Enter Boal, the brother of Oscar winning screenwriter Mark Boal, who wrote The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. He’s an accomplished playwright in New York, acclaimed for plays such as Crazy for the Dog and 23 Knives. He’s making a pretty huge splash on the screenwriting front as well, as he adapted John Scalzi’s sci-fi drama Old Man’s War for Wolfgang Peterson and Paramount, the Caesar flick for Warner Bros., who also hired him for Viking epic Vanguard, with Alexander Skarsgaard starring. All we need now is for one of those movies to come out and show us how well his storytelling skills translate to cinema.
Much like the origin story debate, we might as well skip the frustration that comes from seeing yet another treasured franchise get revamped for no good reason. Martin Campbell’s The Legend of Zorro came out in 2005, so it’s hardly necessary to see a new one, but I guess that’s why they’re trying to differentiate by giving it the Dark Knight treatment. The first screenwriters hired were Lee Shipman and Brian McGreevy, who both went on to develop the Netflix werewolf soap opera Hemlock Grove with Eli Roth. So if there’s a silver lining here, it’s Boal.
I’m thinking they’re going to make the character younger as well, to build a franchise that could handle 7-10 year gaps between installments more than Antonio Banderas can. Still, it’ll be hard to top him.