In a few months we’ll mark the five-year anniversary of the abominable 2011 film The Three Musketeers (or really, no one will notice). That movie was the first attempt since 1993 to attempt to bring the iconic swashbuckling tale to life on the big screen, and it was pretty much undeniably awful. CinemaBlend called it “a dumb film that makes you feel dumb” and frankly it’s hard to imagine a worse criticism for an adventure film.
Thatâ€”plus the fact that the ’93 movie (while charming) had some Disney cheesiness to itâ€”makes it seem as if the Three Musketeers might just not be suited for cinematic adaptation. Then again, there could be another way. We’ve begun to see a lot of TV series being made as a way to extend stories that might feel a little bit cramped or cheapened when crammed into two or three hours for a movie. And the BBC has already done it with the Three Musketeers across the pond, and garnered some decent reviews to boot.
But would a similar series work in the States through, say, HBO or Showtime? Or even Netflix or Amazon? I say yes!
I say that because historical dramas are pretty much all the rage in television right now, and everyone is waiting for the next Game Of Thrones. There’s Black Sails, a hardcore adventure drama set during the age of piracy; there’s Marco Polo, an underrated Netflix series dealing with the iconic titular explorer’s ventures into ancient Asia; there’s Vikings, there’s Rome, there’s Camelot; there’s Turn, and Deadwood, and Penny Dreadful. TV audiences love action and intrigue combined with classic period drama elements, and more and more networks and streaming services are showing a willingness to support the budgets needed to bring these types of settings to life. A Three Musketeers series would fit right into modern television trends.
It’s also worth mentioning that hasty reboots aren’t uncommon, and the disappointment of 2011 still lingers. Five years later, fans of the Three Musketeers might still notice an arcade-style game featuring the characters among the slots and games based on popular entertainment at online gaming platform Gala Bingo. It’s common to see such games released alongside popular movies, and this oneâ€”boasting a clever “prizes for all, and all for prizes!” taglineâ€”is now a mainstream reminder of the 2011 flop. Indeed, $100 million-plus worth of ticket purchasers can still recall how rough the 2011 project was, whether or not they encounter the online game as a reminder. But what happens with movies like that these days? They just try again! We’ll soon see the third Spider-Man franchise since 2002! Daredevil was one of the worst superhero movies ever and now the series do-over is one of Netflix’s hottest properties!
So yeah, this could absolutely happen. But what would the cast look like? That’s half of what we care about in a movie like this, after all, so let’s take a stab at it just for fun.
Athos: Usually portrayed as the moral but tortured one of the bunch, Athos is in some sense the “main” musketeer. In 2011 he was portrayed by the Matthew Mcfadyen, and in 1993 by Kiefer Sutherland. If they tried this again, James McAvoy would be an interesting pick. He’d have to go blonde, but he’s got the right demeanor for Athos (a slightly more crass version of Charles Xavier will do), and if you look back at the Three Musketeers slot game, the blonde one almost looks a bit like McAvoy with blonde hair and a mustache.
Aramis: Aramis is the devout musketeer and is often portrayed as the sharpest, both in action and appearance. In 2011, this was Luke Evans attempting to tank his rising career, and in 1993 it was pre-craziness Charlie Sheen. I’d like to see the role go to Ioan Gruffud. He’s had a few laughable roles over the years, but his Lancelot in 2004’s King Arthur was pretty compelling. That character had more of an Athos attitude, but Gruffud looks the part of Aramis.
Porthos: Typically the big goofy one of the group, Porthos was effectively ruined by Oliver Platt in 1993. While he was overtly silly, Platt was so endearing in the role it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it very well (including Ray Stevenson, who had the job in 2011). This is a tough one to cast, but Jerome Flynn (Bronn from Game Of Thrones) with a bit of weight gain could be a blast.
D’Artagnan: For some reason there’s a tendency to cast softies in the most important role in this story. Chris O’Donnell was a decent pick in 1993, but Logan Lerman in 2011 was just too much of a kid. If we were to see a series, the interesting pick would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’d fit the traditional character type but add a little bit more of an edge, and as we’ve mentioned, he really gets into his work!
This is all just a pipe dream for the time being, but it also kind of makes a lot of sense. And it might just be the way to bring about a project that people always seem to stay interested in….