Peter Berg’s ‘Hercules’ Looks To ‘300’ For Inspiration

Don’t expect the upcoming adapation of “Hercules” to be just another swords-and-sandals film — for one thing, it comes from the Radical series “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” not the DC or Marvel versions of the demigod, which means it’s “a whole lot darker,” says Radical president and publisher Barry Levine. He expects this version, to be produced and directed by Peter Berg, to be more “300” than “Troy” or “Alexander.”

“It’s all about taste,” Levine said. “What would have ’300’ been without Zack Snyder? He gave it a stylization. There were no stars. There didn’t need to be. If you have taste and you stay true to the concept and the characters, there’s a lot of embellishment you can do.”

Based on the five-issue mini-series by Steve Moore, newly hired screenwriter Ryan Condal’s version is about how Hercules, after the 12 Labours, has turned his back on the gods and teamed up with a group of men and women to fight for pay. “King Thrace hires them to train his army,” Levine said. “Hercules doesn’t question the king’s motives until he sees them practice on innocent people, and realizes that he’s a mad king, and they’re an army of the damned.”

Since it’s after the Labors, Hercules isn’t fighting a ton of mythological creatures that would make the story seem too fantastic. “We don’t have three-headed Hydras and one-eyed Cyclops,” Levine said. “We have none of that. In the next set of issues, they’ll go to Egypt and we’ll have heightened reality there because of Egyptian folklore and mythology and we can use that rather than Zeus and all the others.”

Because the intended audience may not have read the comics, Levine said the appeal for a film version was that the character was well-known from mythology, even if the story itself was not. “It’s like with the 300 Spartans,” Levine said. “You have to be able to reinvent the characters. You have to be able to give it the spin like Zack did. People don’t want to see what they already know. You knew the Titanic was going to set forth, sail, and sink, but what happened in-between was the thing. And people are open-minded. They want to be entertained and educated and presented with something new.”

There will be a lot of action, Levine promised, but this version — and the reason Berg came aboard — is more character-driven. “It’s about the redemption,” Levine said. “And when Peter read the first issue that we didn’t print, the 58-pages that were going to the artist, and the issues to come, he was blown away. He goes, ’That’s the film I want to make.'”

Talk to us, Splash Page readers — Who would you like to see play Hercules? King Thrace?