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Henry Cavill's Highlander Reboot Should Ignore The Movies And Look Only To The TV Series For Inspiration

After his adventures as both the Man of Steel and Geralt of Rivia ended in ... shall we say, a less than satisfactory fashion, the world has been waiting with bated breath to see what genre hijinks Henry Cavill gets up to next. For now, we'll have to keep waiting, seeing as his list of upcoming projects is suspiciously barren of such work — except for one interesting IP.  Cavill's next big reboot has been in the works for a while now, and whenever it lurches forward, "Highlander" should be a perfect project for a guy who's known for portraying difficult-to-kill heroes and master swordsmen. 

Now, when we first think of "Highlander," the mind immediately wanders to the original 1986 fantasy action film, in which Christopher Lambert's Scottish immortal Connor MacLeod battles others like him to attain the mysterious Prize. Heavy on flashbacks and boasting a cool cast of supporting characters, the movie does some extremely heavy lifting when it comes to lore establishment — as shown by the fact that the IP can potentially attract stars of Cavill's caliber even today.  

Despite this, whatever "Highlander"-themed work will eventually end up on Cavill's résumé should stay at a Claymore's length from adapting the movie — let alone its sequels. Instead, the star should steer the ship toward a far less obvious (but more rewarding) direction, and draw inspiration from the far superior "Highlander: The Series." 

Let's face it, most Highlander movies are pretty bad

Apart from the obvious allures of a mysterious, centuries-old decapitation competition between immortal sword masters, the finest things in the first "Highlander" movie are easily listed: The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) rules, and katana-wielding Egyptian-Spanish Immortal Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramirez (as played by Sean Connery, of all people) is decidedly a fun supporting character. Unfortunately, the franchise proceeded to throw it all right out of the window — in multiple competing continuities, no less.

The first "Highlander" movie is a nice, self-contained piece of fantasy adventure, and let's be honest — it ended conclusively enough that it never really needed any sequels. It got them anyway, and things quickly went wrong. "Highlander II: The Quickening" muddies the waters by bringing back Ramirez and his improbable Scottish accent, complete with a whole bunch of lore that has nothing to do with the original. The futuristic sequel reshapes the "cool historical warriors locked in combat" aspect of the story by making the whole thing about aliens and evil corporations. Instead of the terrifying Kurgan, Connor fights a smirking space doofus who insists on calling himself General Katana (Michael Ironside). 

In the span of a single movie, the franchise went from cool to stupid. It's saying something that the following, invariably horrendous "Highlander" movies have done their level best to pretend that "The Quickening" doesn't exist. Even the incoherent "Highlander III: The Sorcerer" wisely ignores its predecessor ... though it then immediately drops the ball with a rambling mess of a plot that pits Connor against Kane (Mario Van Peebles), a curiously coiffed baddie who exists mainly to remind us that his barber is far more villainous than he could ever be. 

Highlander: The Series captured the first movie's essence, but made it way, way better

Meanwhile, "Highlander: The Series" takes every single thing that was good in the franchise — including the Queen song "Princes of the Universe," used as an opening theme — and hones it all into an edge that's sharp enough to win any duel. Happily ignoring the worst of the franchise's nonsense, the show focuses on Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul), a younger immortal member of Connor's clan. It maintains a laser focus on the core "immortals dueling immortals until there can be only one" aspect of the franchise, and does a commendable job at keeping the series as grounded as anything with this premise could hope to be.

"Highlander: The Series" also fixes one of the movie series' most glaring flaws: A lack of memorable supporting characters not played by Sean Connery or Clancy Brown. The show rolls out a magnificent cavalcade of immortals who deal with their lengthy lifespans in wildly varying ways. For instance, classy immortal Amanda (Elizabeth Ward Gracen) is having a ball as a highly skilled thief, even earning a short-lived spin-off series for her efforts. Meanwhile, the 5,000-year-old Methos (Peter Wingfield) got the whole "scourge of the world" thing out of his system way back when, and is now content to work in scholarly positions and throw snark at people.

The series ran from 1992-1998, and was nominated for way more awards than anything with the word "Highlander" in the title should have any business to. In themes, vibe, and plotlines alike, it's exactly what you'd want from a premise that centers around long-living people who remove each other's heads. As such, "Highlander: The Series" is beloved by fans, and the best thing the franchise has produced by a considerable margin. 

Christopher Lambert should play the same role to Henry Cavill's Highlander as he did for Adrian Paul

All of this bouncing around and alternate-sequeling makes the correct order in which to watch the "Highlander" franchise a bit tricky to figure out, but at least it means Cavill's eventual version can play fast and loose with the finer details. Still, there's one particular "Highlander" aspect that the planned revival will absolutely have to keep: original hero Connor MacLeod is the sole throughline of the franchise, having appeared in every movie except 2007's Duncan-centric "Highlander: The Source." As such, regardless of where the new project will go, Christopher Lambert should absolutely feature in some shape, form or way. 

This, incidentally, is yet another reason for Cavill to focus on "Highlander: The Series" and otherwise ignore the movies. 

Lambert might have his share of action and drama protagonist roles, but as anyone who's witnessed his inappropriately cackling Lord Raiden in 1995's "Mortal Kombat," he tends to be at his most entertaining when he's playing mentors. And in the series, Lambert's "Highlander" character is the one who shows Duncan the ropes of the immortal fight club scene, eventually returning to team up with the younger clansman in the movie "Highlander: Endgame." 

Cavill is known for his determination to honor whatever franchise he appears in, and bringing Lambert in to play a "Ramirez"-type mentor role would be the easiest and best way to keep the original actor in the game, while still giving Cavill space to do his own thing. Maybe they could bring back the Kurgan, too. At this point of the franchise's convoluted history, one mysteriously reattached head would require barely any suspension of disbelief at all, especially if it meant that we get Clancy Brown back in the Game.