Zack Snyder is heading back to Greece, but this time it might be more madness than Sparta. The director has begun work on Xerxes, the sequel (or kind-of-prequel) to 300. Snyder, whose slow-motion and blood-soaked adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 made him a star director, has confirmed that he has closed a deal with Warner Bros to script the project with writing collaborator Kurt Johnstad. Snyder also mentioned that he intends to direct the project, but that he and the studio had not yet made an official agreement.
Xerxes takes place in the ten years proceeding the battle of Thermopylae that constituted 300, exploring the origins of the war between Persia and Greece. The film will be based off a Frank Miller comic of the same name. Miller's comic isn't set to be released until 2011, but the project is apparently together enough for Snyder to start writing a script for it. While Xerxes may be the title character of the film, the story centers on Athenian general Themistocles and his role at the battle of Artemisium.
"'300' gave everyone a chance to fight alongside a super warrior, a chance to fight alongside these Spartan warriors that you could never fight against;” said Snyder “but Themistocles is different, he is us... it's much more about the everyman."
While taking a more realistic, “everyman” approach seems like it would take a lot of the escapist fun out of the franchise, Snyder confirmed that Xerxes would build off 300’s signature (read: decadently bloody) visual style. He also revealed that the film would take the usual “more is more” approach to a sequel, promising dubious improvements such as greater political and philosophical complexity, and vast, epic battles. While bringing greater complexity to a concept that’s basically “300 with boats” is obviously a silly idea, I also hesitate to endorse Snyder’s desire to scale-up the fight scenes, since the individually-focused, easy-to-follow violence of 300 was a breath of fresh air in the jump-cut and crowd-replication heavy action industry. 300 was a really enjoyable action film because it balanced a simple, bare-bones story with some truly extravagant violence. Xerxes seems like an attempt to reverse that formula, and I don’t trust that to work out well. Though I doubt that I need to worry about Snyder taking this too seriously, he did invent a guy with axes for hands in 300.
Source: LA Times