Highlander: 5 Things The Reboot Can Learn From Past Adaptations

Christopher Lambert

The tagline for the first Highlander movie was “There Can Only Be One.” But unfortunately, that might as well be a declaration for the entire series, since apparently, “there can only be one” good Highlander movie, and that’s the first one. While there was a pretty badass TV show that ran for 6 seasons, when it comes to Highlander movies, they’re just the pits. Highlander fans will get this reference, but there is no prize. Not unless you mean a sur-prise that the series is still around after four objectively terrible movies, with three of them being straight up box office bombs, and one of them going straight to the Sci-Fi channel.

But there’s hope! John Wick director, Chad Stahelski, is set to direct a reboot. And while there hasn’t been much talk of new developments (because, you know, Coronavirus), the reboot, which has been passed around from hand to hand for years now, actually seems to currently be in capable hands. But as a longtime fan, I still have some possible suggestions. I mean, whatever I have to say can’t be worse than Highlander II: The Quickening, can it?

Sean Connery on the left

Have a Strong Mentor Type to Explain the Rules of the World.

Rumors have been swirling FOR YEARS that Tom Cruise might take on a role as a mentor in the film like Sean Connery did in the original movie. But I’m not sure if a Tom Cruise-type would really work. Because you see, Highlander is a really silly series. I mean, it’s cool and all, and I love it. But all this talk about “The Prize” and “The Immortals” and “The Quickening” are just really, really silly.

The director has gone on record saying that he wants this reboot to be like John Wick with swords, which sounds really awesome on the action side of things. But story-wise, if you’re going to stick with the overall mythology and lore of the original Highlander movie, which again, is really silly, then try to get somebody with gravitas and poise who can deliver lines like, “You have power beyond imagination. Use it well my friend. Don’t lose your head,” with a straight face. In other words, Tom Cruise seems more like a Connor MacLeod-type. Not a Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez-type. Because while I know there can only be one Sean Connery, there should still be somebody with style and sagacity to explain this universe. Forest Whitacker, perhaps? Just sayin'.

Sean Connery on the left

Don’t Use ANYTHING From Highlander 2-5

Thank God the director has said that he doesn’t want to make the Immortals aliens or anything stupid like they were in the abysmal Highlander II: The Quickening. But I think he needs to go one step further than that. Because there might be the allure to pull from some of the sequels as fan service, but no. Please don’t do that. There’s a reason why nobody (besides me) talks about Highlander: Endgame, or Highlander: The Source. And it’s because they suck and add nothing worthwhile to the overall lore.

A great example of what to do is what the 2018 Halloween did, which was ignore everything after the original. I know this is a reboot and so it might not even have any connection to the Clan MacLeod. But if it does, and some of the same characters like Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan are there, then just stick with those characters and stories. That said…

Adrian Paul on the left

If the Reboot is Going to Pull From Anything, Pull From the TV Series

Highlander II: The Quickening is, no exaggeration, one of the worst movies ever made. And the next three sequels were only slightly better. But Highlander: The Series was actually really awesome. In it, there’s a new member from the Clan MacLeod in Duncan, played by Adrian Paul. The show expanded upon the world, adding a secret organization called The Watchers who are mortals who keep track of Immortals, as well as The Sanctuary, which is actually kind of like the Continental Hotel in John Wick in that Immortals can get out of The Game (which is pretty much the battle between other Immortals) if they no longer want to participate. Or, it can be a prison for Immortals. Because yeah, Highlander is a little loose on its mythology. And while yes, a lot of the elements from the TV show made it into the eventual movies, they are explained much better in the TV Series and play a much bigger role.

What I’m trying to say is this: if anything from the Highlander series is going to be pulled from, then pull it from the TV show. The series had a lot of great concepts, and it humanized the Immortals a lot better than the movies (Besides the first one) ever did.

Christopher Lambert

Don’t Just Copy the First Film Like Highlander III Did

After the disgrace that was Highlander II: The Quickening, Highlander III: The Sorcerer basically played it safe and repeated the events in the first Highlander with some details changed here and there. And all I have to say is don’t do that. If possible, don’t make this reboot like the first Highlander at all. There were stories floating around that Dave Bautista was being eyed to play the Kurgan, but why even include that character?

In fact, it would probably be best if nothing from the first movie was recycled. The mythos can be the same, but we don’t need Connor MacLeod going on the same journey that he did before but with different action sequences. Really start fresh. Highlander is a series that needs a hard reset. Not a soft one, but a hard one.

Clancy Brown as the Kurgan

Focus on the Past, But Not the Future

The director has said he wants to focus on the world of the Immortals, and that’s fine. John Wick is cool because you see a world of assassins that everybody else in that universe seems to be oblivious to. But one caveat for Highlander is to stay in present day and in the past, but don’t go in the future like in Highlander II: The Quickening or Highlander: The Animated Series.

I’ve always found Highlander to be interesting in the way that the past can inform the present. But when you start going into the future, then the whole story starts to get muddied. So only focus on the past and the present, since that’s when the series is usually at its strongest.

And those are just five rules I think this reboot should follow. But what do you think fellow, Highlander fans? Sound off in the comments.

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.