Vikings, Vikings Everywhere: Catherine Hardwicke Tapped for the Director’s Chair For the Adaptation of Vault Comics' HEATHEN | The Fan Carpet

Vikings, Vikings Everywhere: Catherine Hardwicke Tapped for the Director’s Chair For the Adaptation of Vault Comics’ HEATHEN

08 August 2019

If you thought the press and movie fans collectively lost their minds at the perceived feminist agenda of 'Captain Marvel,' and the more recent news that there will be a black female 007 in the next James Bond movie, we suspect you haven't seen anything yet. There's a new Viking movie on its way - and it's all about lesbian pro-feminist Norse warriors. Based on a series by Vault Comics, 'Heathen' will be hitting the big screen somewhere between 2020 and 2021 - and Catherine Hardwicke has been tasked with putting it all together from the director's chair.

If you haven't heard of 'Heathen' before, you probably weren't paying attention when its creators appealed for money to publish it via Kickstarter in 2017. There were fears that an overtly feminist, lesbian comic book might not find an audience, but those fears turned out to be unwarranted. In the two years since the dream of artist Natasha Alterici came to life, 'Heathen' has become so popular that Hollywood has come calling. With feminist and gay heroes enjoying better representation on screen now than at any point in history, there's never been a better time to bring the Norse warriors to life.



Vikings, Vikings Everywhere
There’s probably more to the timing of the movie than just the advance of progressive causes through Hollywood. There may never have been a better time to make a gay or feminist film, but there’s also never been a better time to make a Viking-themed entertainment product. This year will see the final series of the hit History TV show 'Vikings,' and when it's all over its fans will feel as bereft as the 'Game of Thrones' fandom did when their favourite show ended in 2019. It's to be hoped that 'Vikings' fans feel a little better about how their beloved characters are written and treated in the final few episodes than 'Game of Thrones' fans generally do, though.

With the popularity of 'Vikings,' interest in tales of the famous warriors is at fever pitch. We can see this in other areas of entertainment - there have been several Viking-themed mobile slots released during the past couple of years, including an 'official' mobile slot based on the TV series, along with several other mobile slots which dress themselves in the same clothes. The companies who create mobile slots only do so when they know they have a product which can catch the eye of players in a crowded marketplace, so when you see slots which base themselves around such a niche interest, you know that the niche in question is larger than it used to be.



What’s It All About?
We don't want to give too much away here in case the movie is a re-telling of the comic books, but we feel comfortable in giving you a little background information. In the plot of 'Heathen,' a female Viking warrior named Aydis seeks to overthrow the patriarchy in Valhalla by going to war with Odin. In the process she seeks help from Freyja, the pansexual goddess of love, to free a gay valkyrie called Brynhild. The whole story is defiant, unashamed, and hugely compelling.

What ends up on the screen, of course, could be entirely different. Kerry Williamson has been brought in as the lead writer, which suggests there will be at least a few deviations from Alterici's original vision. Williamson's best-known work to date is 'Alex Cross,' but if you're a keen Netflix browser, you may have also seen 'What Happened To Monday,' which was also an original creation from the writer. As well as 'Heathen,' she's currently busy writing a movie version of 'Sandman Slim,' so her talents are in strong demand.

Making strong female-led movies shouldn't be too much of a hardship for director Catherine Hardwicke. Hardwicke is probably best known for making the first film in the 'Twilight' series, but showed she's equally adept at dealing with darker material when she helmed 'Red Riding Hood' more recently. 'Heathen' - which will be the third film to bear that name in the past five years - is expected to be darker still, giving Hardwicke plenty of provocative material to get her teeth into.



Any More Information?
The movie is expected to sit somewhere between the 'superhero' and 'horror' genres with a possible lean toward the latter. As with all movies about Gods, some of the characters in the film will have superpowers, but the fact that the movie is being released through Germany's Constantin Film is a clue about its content. So far, Constantin is most strongly associated with the 'Resident Evil' movie franchise.

The only issue we can see affecting this film is one of timing. On its current schedule, 'Heathen' will be hitting cinemas close to the time that 'Thor: Love and Thunder' within which we already know that Valkyrie, as played by Tessa Thompson, will have a lesbian love interest. Given the similarities in subject matter and message, it's possible that 'Heathen' could be overlooked in favour of the 'Thor' movie, which will have the full marketing muscle of Marvel Films behind it. Such concerns are for the future though - the most important task in the short term is getting it made, and ensuring that it's great.

Given the quality of the subject matter that Hardwicke and Williamson have to work with, ensuring that it's great shouldn't be a tall order. If they remain true to the bold vision of the comic book, the most striking difference between the two films is likely to be one of identity. The 2021 'Thor' movie will be a Marvel superhero film that happens to have gay characters. 'Heathen' is a gay film at its core, within which some of the characters happen to be heterosexual. In an ideal film world, there should be room for both. If any of the planned 'Vikings' prequels have been made by then, public interest in the subject matter should still be high.

It may be a long way off, but this is a movie project we’re going to watch with interest.


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