USA Today recently released the first images we’ve seen of Noam Murro‘s 300: Rise of An Empire.
A sequel/sidequel to 2006’s 300, which was directed by Zack Snyder, the film’s synopsis runs as follows:
Based on Frank Miller‘s latest graphic novel Xerxes and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster 300, this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield—on the sea—as Greek general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war. 300: Rise of an Empire pits Themistokles against the massive invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), and Artemesia (Eva Green), vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
Murro, whose only other feature is 2008 dramedy Smart People, has promised “a very different story… in keeping with the original flavor of 300.” Though it may be beholden to its predecessor’s style, Empire may encompass as many as six major battles, including the Battle of Artemsium – the film’s working title – which took place at sea.
If you’re worried the hugely expanded scope and scale of the film could lead to a loss of drama, Murro promises, “The few against the many is still here. It’s hundreds vs. hundreds of thousands. It’s about taking on the mightiest power of all with wisdom and tactics.” Empire also has a new, more hands-on antagonist in the form of Green’s Artemesia, who lead actor Stapleton claims “does most of Xerxes’ dirty work in the film.”
The film will also apparently delve into the personal history of Santoro’s fey, androgynous god-king, as well as highlighting Themistokles’ complexity as a character compared to 300‘s shouty, chest-kicking Leonidas (Gerard Butler). Murro says, “Themistokles is battle-scarred… a warrior, but at the same time he’s a politician… not the king. He has to rule in a democracy.”
Similarly, his army is not the elite fighting force that Leonidas’ men were: “These people don’t want to fight, they even say that they are not Spartans. They are common people who have to do this to not be in under the rule of a dictator.”
300: Rise of An Empire is due on August 2nd. Expect the Iranian government to take issue.