Ever since Zack Snyder’s 300 hit theaters three years ago, fans have been chomping at the bit for a sequel/follow-up. Snyder always said that it depended on whether comic book artist/writer Frank Miller wanted to write another graphic novel. Well, it appears that Miller has a good chunk of Xerxes written and drawn, and he recently spoke extensively about the project. Regarding the story, Miller had this to say:
The time frame begins 10 years before ’300′ and the story starts with the Battle of Marathon, which was killer to draw, by the way, even if it was a lot of work. The lead character is Themistocles, who became warlord of Greece and built their navy. The story is very different than ’300′ in that it involves Xerxes’ search for godhood. The existence of gods are presupposed in this story and the idea is that he [is] well on his way to godhood by the end of the story.
For much, much more from Miller regarding Xerxes, hit the jump.
If you know anything about the Battle of Marathon, then you’re aware that cinematically this would be one of the most epic battles ever put to film. The inclusion of Themistocles as the main character is very exciting as well, as he’s generally considered one of the greatest leaders in history (though the end of his life was marred a bit by scandal). Regarding Themistocles, Miller said:
With Themistocles I have a character who is almost the dead opposite of Leonidas in that Themistocles was a lying, conniving, brilliant, heroic figure. He was nicknamed ‘The Subtle Serpent’ and he always manages to do the exact right things that will result in him benefiting greatly.
Expanding on the plot of the book a bit, Miller talked to Hero Complex about how the story of Xerxes is much more complex than 300:
The story will be the same heft as ’300′ but it covers a much, much greater span of time — it’s 10 years, not three days. This is a more complex story. The story is so much larger. The Spartans in ’300′ were being enclosed by the page as the world got smaller. This story has truly vast subjects. The Athenian naval fleet, for instance, is a massive artistic undertaking and it dwarfed by the Persian fleet, which is also shown in this story. The story has elements of espionage, too, and it’s a sweeping tale with gods and warriors.
This isn’t the first time that the Athenian naval fleet has been mentioned in correlation with Xerxes. Back in October, Zack Snyder talked about the inclusion of the naval Battle of Artemisium in Xerxes, saying:
We’re doing all these sequences where the triremes all crash together and the battlefield is all the boats crashing together so the men run across the ships as they’re fighting, so that should be fun. And horses and everything. It’s crazy.
Apparently, the Battle of Artemisium will be the climax of the book, and ends on the same day as the events of 300:
There is an aftermath that is like an extension of ’300′ because ’300′ ended so abruptly with all of them getting mowed down by arrows. I do get into what happened after that and what the entire thing means to Xerxes. Xerxes is a megalomaniac and takes everything as a sign of his godhood. I’ve known people like that.
While 300 was wildly popular in the US, the portrayal of Xerxes in the film was met with outrage in Iran, with many calling the character offensive given his revered status in the country. When asked about this, and how the character might be received in this follow-up given his more expanded role in the story, Miller responded accordingly:
Yes, I suppose it will be seen as provocative, but really to me he is such a pivotal character and in this story I get to explain him so much more fully. I do my best to crawl inside his head rather than have him be this iconic force that simply commands this huge army. There are many scenes with him alone or just with his people. There’s an extended scene set in Persepolis, for instance, where he takes power and there are several scenes where he is going through his transitions and he’s shown speaking to his mother and his wife and with all of that he becomes that much more interesting as a character.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of 300, the story Miller has cooked up has me intrigued. The story of Themistocles is absolutely fascinating and the thought of Snyder tackling the battles of Marathon and Artemisium has me very interested in this film visually. But alas, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. With Snyder currently taking on Superman: Man of Steel, there’s no telling when/if he’ll be able to adapt Miller’s graphic novel into a film. The Hero Complex piece states that Miller apparently has no intention to direct or co-direct a film version of Xerxes, as he did on Sin City, saying:
I don’t do a comic book thinking there is a movie. I just want it to be as good a comic book as it can be. It’s up to Zack and company to make it work as a film.
300 producer Thomas Tull, who along with Zack Snyder has seen some of the pages from Xerxes, spoke about the cinematic approach to Xerxes and how they don’t want to make a sequel just for the sake of making a sequel:
We’ve said since the beginning that we’re not just going to do some prequel or sequel — a ’301′ — just as some money-grab. We said if it was a story that was good and it came from Frank and it was organic, that’s the only way it could and would happen. So we’ll see where this leads
For now, Snyder is busy with Superman and Miller’s graphic novel hasn’t even come out yet, so we may be a ways off from a film version of this 300 follow-up. Hopefully these tidbits from Miller are enough to tide fans over until the graphic novel gets released.