After a series of frustrating delays, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will finally debut in theaters next month. The retelling of the classic myth has been on our radar for quite some time, and the core essence of the film has evolved considerably since the earliest days of its development. In fact, the original vision for Legend of the Sword steered away from Guy Ritchie’s typically lighthearted sensibilities to offer up a far more dramatic take on the story. Charlie Hunnam recently addressed the changes and explained what happened, saying:
It was challenging to begin with because there was an uncertainty about the tone. Guy’s [initial] intention was to make something that was outside of his wheelhouse, and make a more classic, straightforward, and somewhat somber film — which is obviously not what we ended up with.
Based upon Charlie Hunnam’s recent comments to EW, it sounds like we almost got a considerably different version of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Guy Ritchie initially intended to approach the iconic tale with a far more intense layer of grit and seriousness, but he ultimately pulled back and applied his somewhat quirkier sensibilities to the project. Whether this was a result of his creative process or studio oversight is unclear, but the fact remains that Hunnam has confirmed that this iteration of the character will be “cheeky” compared to what we’ve seen before.
Looking back on the history of the King Arthur franchise, it’s not hard to understand why the decision would be made to veer the myth back into Guy Ritchie’s comfort zone. After all, a darker attempt at this Arthurian legend came together with 2004’s King Arthur, and that dark and gritty reboot didn’t go over too well with fans.
With the 2004 version of King Arthur garnering a less than desirable 31% Rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and more recent gritty medieval adventures like Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood not faring much better, it appears that all parties involved decided that a more lighthearted and adventure-focused take on the material would ultimately work better. Guy Ritchie has a clear track record of applying this particular style to classic heroes with his work on the Sherlock Holmes franchise, so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Check out a trailer for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword below for a better look at how the tone of the film has come together throughout its development and production.
Applying his usual sensibilities to King Arthur has probably paid off for Guy Ritchie in the long run. As a director with a long history tackling scrappy underdog characters, it seems likely that his work on this film will help him get ready to deal with another famous street rat: Aladdin. We doubt that the folks at Disney would want their live-action Aladdin to veer into dark territory, so bringing in a filmmaker with a penchant for quirky adventure feels like a safe bet. Having said that, we’re still definitely anxious to see what Ritchie can do with some darker material.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will finally make its theatrical debut next month on May 12.