If you were a sentient, conscious human being in the 2000s, chances are you remember the seemingly endless strinof ancient mythology movies, television shows and video games. The Romans, ancient Greeks and even the Egyptians could be found everywhere from the big screen to art exhibitions for about a decade, before they suddenly just stopped.
Of course, this was not the first time Hollywood had embraced ancient mythology. Back in the 1950s there were numerous Hercules movies released, as well as Ben-Hur (1959) and Black Orpheus (1959), which won an Oscar for best foreign film. 1960 saw the release of Spartacus, while in 1963 Ray Harryhasen’s epic masterpiece Jason and the Argonauts debuted, inspiring a number of works including Ulysses (1967), Oedipus the King (1968) and The Trojan Women (1971).
Over the next few decades there were a few ancient mythology gems, including the original Clash of the Titans (1981) and Disney’s Hercules (1997). There was even a television trend for the genre, with shows like Xena the Warrior Princess, The Odyssey and Hercules ruling the airwaves before witchcraft and demons took over in the form of Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
Then, all of a sudden everything changed after the release of The Mummy (1999) and Gladiator (2000). Suddenly, ancient mythology was cool again and so began the ancient mythology rampage that would rage for over a decade. After everyone had got over the excitement of Lord of the Rings series, Wolfgang Petersen and David Benioff teamed up to create Troy (2004), while Oliver Stone worked on Alexander (2004). There was Zack Snyder’s 300 (2006), Agora (2009) and Clash of the Titans (2010). Director Chris Columbus released Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief (2010) based on Rick Riordan’s novels, followed by Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013).
Then, as is often the case, as soon as the genre peaked it began to wane. Commercial success suddenly became a lot more difficult to achieve with ancient mythology movies, with films like Immortals (2011), Wrath of the Titans (2012) and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) failing to bring in audiences. Even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson couldn’t turn things around for the genre with Hercules (2014) – not to be confused with The Legend of Hercules (2014). Instead, medieval fantasy, dystopian epics and comic book movies became the genres of the moment, leaving ancient mythology in the dust.
That was, until recently.
You see, one genre that continues to thrive is comic book movies. This is particularly interesting for the ancient mythology genre, as a number of comic books were themselves inspired by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. For instance, Zeus has appeared in Marvel’s Thor and The Avengers a number of times, Ares has his own comic and Hawkman is clearly inspired by Horus. Avid comic book fans will also recognise Black Adam, Artemis and almost the entire roster of Egyptian Gods as they pop up so often.
Of course, the most obvious and famous representation of ancient mythology in comic books though, is Wonder Woman. The Amazonian princess has just received her own movie, one that was met with great reviews, which could usher in an entirely new wave of mythology movies.
In fact, it’s possibly already started. The Mummy (2017) recently received a remake starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, while Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence, the man behind the Hunger Games franchise, announced a new series based on Homer’s Odyssey back in April 2015. Plus, there will also be the long-awaited Justice League movie later this year, starring Wonder Woman herself.
Like before, it isn’t just movies that are beginning to lay the foundations of another mythology renaissance. The next instalment of the epic Assassin’s Creed video game franchise will take place (partly, probably) in the world of ancient Egypt as a warrior fights for his people against unknown enemies. Online games also play a large role these days, so it’s important to note that bingo sites like Sun Bingo are featuring slots such as Cleopatra, Crown of Egypt and Sphinx just to name a few – all of which have a mythological theme.
When ancient mythology returned to television in the form of the 2005 series Rome and 2010’s Spartacus. Even the video games industry began embracing the genre, with titles such as Age of Mythology (2002), Titan Quest (2006) and God of War II (2007) remaining cult classics to this day. Therefore, recent gaming titles can very well be heralding a comeback of the trend of mythology-related cinema.
Now, we can’t be sure if we’re just looking too much into the current trends, or if it’s just wishful thinking, but we like to think a new era of high-quality, action-packed ancient mythology movies could be on the horizon. What do you think?