Director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Red Riding Hood, Thirteen) will helm the fantasy-adventure epic Heathen for Constatin Film and Prime Universe Films. The project adapts the namesake Vault Comics series that centers on Aydis, a fierce Viking warrior who is scorned by her village for kissing another woman and then, after witnessing widespread injustice toward women, declares a one-woman feminist war on Odin himself.
The acclaimed series by Natasha Alterici weaves feminism and queer themes into the familiar tapestry of Norse mythology, a mix that promises to deliver a Viking film unlike any previous one in the annals of Hollywood. Created, written, and drawn by Alterici, the Heathen comics debuted in 2017 with the help of an impassioned Kickstarter investor community. The comics introduce Aydis, who is born into a time marked by war, strife, and the pervasive subjugation of women, and eventually takes on a mission to topple the ultimate patriarch, Odin, the god-king of Asgard and all-seeing father to a thunder-god named Thor.
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The Heathen comics depict risqué sequences (among them Aydis’ abduction by the Norse love goddess Freya) and a vivid gallery of female characters pulled from myth and antiquity but presented with a feminist revamp and a rollicking spirit. Lady pirates, vicious mermaids, and a cursed Valkyrie all cross paths with Aydis as she finds adventure and purpose with sword in hand.
It’s a far cry from the Asgard tales as framed in Marvel Studios films, which have introduced Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Anthony Hopkins as Odin, and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. True, Thompson’s warrior became the first LGBTQ character in the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe but (unlike the Heathen comics) the PG-13 superhero films only flirt with the topic and shy away from themes of sexuality and stigma.
Constantin Film’s Robert Kulzer & Margo Klewans will produce Heathens with Prime Universe Film’s Adrian Askarieh. F.J. DeSanto will also produce. Constantin Film’s Martin Moszkowicz will executive produce with Vault CEO, Damian Wassel, and Hardwicke.
“Natasha has created an instant classic which smartly ties into the current socio-political zeitgeist while being a first-rate, timeless adventure story,” Askarieh said when Deadline first broke the news about the project. “Not only is it a great passion of ours to bring Heathen to the big screen, but also a true honor.”
Hardwick will direct off a script by Kerry Willamson, whose credits include Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross and the Netflix film What Happened to Monday? Williamson is at work now on an adaptation of the bestselling fantasy series Sandman Slim for director Chad Stahelski (John Wick films) and Studio 8.
With Hardwicke set to helm, the producers are moving in crisp fashion to put the film together. Hardwicke was represented on the deal by CAA, manager Dan Halsted, and the law firm of SOWD, LLP. Nick Hanks, the Sr. EVP of Business Affairs, handled the deal on behalf of Constantin.
Hardwicke is currently in production on the new Quibi show Don’t Look Deeper, which stars Don Cheadle, Emily Mortimer and newcomer, Helena Howard.
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