It is no surprise that Guy Ritchie’s take on King Arthur flopped at the box office. Struggling to find it’s voice in an era dedicated to remakes and Superhero movies, King Arthur sad to say was destined to fail. Right now is not the time to make fantasy movies based on old stories, The once and future king hasn’t had a decent run in movies for decades. The 2004 Clive Owen’s King Arthur with slightly better reviews could not resurrect the legendary character.
King Arthur is not alone, Conan the Barbarian, the 2011 take on the Hyborian Barbarian starring Jason Mamoa fell to the same problems. The only legendary fictional hero to do well came via the 2014 Hercules starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Hercules received decent reviews, nothing groundbreaking or fantastic but it did what most fantasy movies based on mythical heroes should do, it told a good story. So why is King Arthur losing at the Box Office well.
The problem lies with timing, setting a fantasy movie in this time frame is a hard thing to do. Game of Thrones has truly set the bar for fantasy even though it is a TV show. G.O.T is exactly what fantasy fans have been wishing for, for years. G.O.T does so well because it is a series which focuses on multiple characters in many beautifully rendered settings. The interim of waiting for the next season would leave any fan wanting and needing something to wet their appetite until the new season arrives. King Arthur and other stories lack in this aspect because movies are made to tell singular stories, even trilogies and anthologies either tell one story stretched across multiple movies or a series of stories that reflect the actions of the previous ones. So movies can not capture the essence of a blockbuster show like Game of Thrones that not only tell a singular story but branches off and creates a world where people and fans can visit with the thirst to know more.
Timing is crucial for a movie like this, releasing King Arthur during the beginning of the summer blockbuster months is a complete failure. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, sets King Arthur up for failure. King Arthur wasn’t as bad as most critics and websites want you to believe, the story was well thought out the execution felt rushed but in this day and age rolling out a two/ three movie deal for a already known and tried story would surely waste the amount of story needed to work. The action was both fun and cool and very similar to Super Hero movies out today.
King Arthur failed because of timing more than acting and story. So why do I say it would work better with Marvel, well it followed the same execution as any Marvel movie has before. The hero is not where he is supposed to be, by some force he is thrown into a situation where he either doesn’t want to be involved or feels its his duty to act. Through some force of nature, destiny and magic the hero acquires his new ability, in King Arthur’s story it was the pulling Excalibur from the stone. Upon doing this he must not only learn to use and master his abilities but use it to fight and potentially kill the big bad in order to become the hero the world needs. Sounds familiar, this story has been told a thousand times.
Marvel’s whole premise surrounds itself in heroes taking from normal lives and thrust into a new world of heroism. I believe that if King Arthur had Disney’s financial backing coupled with Marvel lore, this same story would fair better in the box office, and it still can. I for one am not well versed in Legal jargon nor copyright laws but adding King Arthur this particular King Arthur to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would help to revitalize not only the legend but it could make an amazing stand alone sequel. Resurrecting the titular character in a similar way they did with Captain America could work. The whole fish out of water deal worked for Wonder Woman and it worked for the now fugitive Captain. If they couple King Arthur with the likes of Doctor Strange this may work. I do not mean that he gets a complete co-star role through out the movies but make King Arthur a role player.
If you’ve seen King Arthur you will remember “The Mage” the women who not only helped Charlie Hunnam’s character but also summoned and controlled animals and beast, Beast Master Style. This ambiguous character could act as Morgana Le Fay the antagonist of King Arthur lore. Maybe she is alive and with a long life has become jaded by humanity and it is needed by Arthur to stop her in modern times. Having her team up with Loki, or other magical villains could really bring a new adaptation in the MCU alive. Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur serves as a perfect origin story for a Marvel movie if it can be acquired by Disney/ Marvel.
This could not only be a great reinterpretation of the character that has fallen flat over the years, but it could add a new depth of opportunity for the expanding universe as well as setup new stars to rise after the Infinity Wars movies are done and the classic actors bow out to pursue other work in their careers. Charlie Hunnam has had a hard time at the box office, a lot of people are calling him a charisma vacuum, but people forget the character he played on FX’s Sons of Anarchy, Jackson “Jax” Teller was and is a beloved antihero/ bad guy that still fans of the series talk about today. Being tied to the character and taking on lackluster roles has really damped his choices in Hollywood.
Charlie Hunnam did not ruin King Arthur not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson can save the movie. I have to say Hunnam’s suave potrayal of the King was not bad my issues with the movie had less to do with him and more to do with feeling rushed and the weak CGI that looked like a TV Episode of S.H.I.E.L.D Allowing Hunnam to interact with an assemble cast would really bring out his abilities of being the guy everyone wants to follow. Marvel should try to bring him into the MCU, this could not only change the movie but also the MCU.