The Rock to play Hercules
The Greek god will be back in a dark tale

A 'DARKER' HERCULES. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson will be the next to essay the role. Photo from the Dwayne The Rock Johnson Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – After playing Mathayus the Scorpion King in the eponymous film back in 2002, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is all revved up to play yet another mythical super being: the Greek demi-god Hercules in the film Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

Brett Ratner, director of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and the Rush Hour series, has been chosen to direct the film which will begin production in early 2013.

Based on the Radical Comics graphic novel written by Steve Moore and with art by Cris Bolsin, the film introduces us to a darker Hercules — which isn’t to say that Hercules was not a grim character to begin with. 

In The Thracian Wars, Hercules’ ordeals include the “12 labors,” several of which involve him killing or capturing horrible mythical beasts like Cerberus and the 9-headed Hydra.

The Greek goddess Hera also bewitches him into a delusion-filled rage and, in his madness, he kills his wife and children.

After this tragedy, Hercules’ story falls into obscurity with countless artists and writers filling in the gaps with their own imagination.

In Hercules: The Thracian Wars, Hercules is every bit as dark as you expect a person to be after experiencing so much suffering. The Hercules that Johnson will portray is a lost and world-weary hero who has fallen from grace. 

The other catch in this film? Absolutely no magic and divine interventions. It is set in a Greece firmly grounded on the reality of war, grit, greed and, of course, blood-thirsty carnage.

What better way to portray this reality than through the lives of mercenaries? After losing his family, Hercules meets 6 warriors, men and women born to fight and who have learned to embrace violence as a way of life. The group becomes sought-after mercenaries, willing to kill anyone for the highest price. 

Their fame reaches the King of Thrace who summons them to train his men to become the most ruthless, fearsome army of all time.

As he entangles himself more and more in this life of greed married with violence, Hercules begins to hope for a way out and attempts to become the hero he once was.

Bloody battle scenes, gore, heart-pumping action and a bevy of scantily clad muscular ladies and gents are only to be expected. It would be interesting to see whether or not Johnson can channel the complexity and depth of character in such monumental a role as Hercules.

Johnson has been playing the part of strong men all throughout his career. Playing this strong man might prove to be a herculean feat.

But as The Rock has proven, he has always been up for the challenge. –