Here’s something that looks like one simple story — a director offered a movie — but in reality it might be something a lot more complex. Zack Snyder broke into the big leagues with 300, based on Frank Miller‘s graphic novel, and has been developing the sequel, Xerxes, for some time. He had planned to script and direct, and as of last summer was writing the script.

Now there’s word that, via Vulture, that Legendary and Warner Bros. have offered Xerxes to Guy Ritchie, who did quite well with Sherlock Holmes and is finishing up the sequel, now called Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Quick thoughts: first, we know that WB was quick to retain him and get the Sherlock sequel in production, so if the studio is happy with the sequel then it would stand to reason he will be offered something big to follow it. But if you’re Guy Ritchie, how do you make Xerxes and escape the shadow of Zack Snyder? 300 is Zack Snyder — it’ll take a monumental effort before he’s something other than the ’300 guy.’ Taking the reins of the sequel to that must feel like being asked to direct the third ‘blood and ice cream’ film instead of Edgar Wright.

We’ll likely know more soon. Ponder for a few moments what this means for Zack Snyder. Meanwhile, he’s a recap of quotes about Xerxes:

Frank Miller said that the story of Xerxes is a larger, more expansive, more complex story than 300:

“The story will be the same heft as ‘300? but it cover a much, much greater span of time — it’s 10 years, not three days,” Miller told the . “This is a more complex story. The story is so much larger. The Spartans in ‘300? were being enclosed by the page as the world got smaller. This story has truly vast subjects. The Athenian naval fleet, for instance, is a massive artistic undertaking and it dwarfed by the Persian fleet, which is also shown in this story. The story has elements of espionage, too, and it’s a sweeping tale with gods and warriors.” … “The new tale climaxes with a massive naval confrontation that is so dense that it is fought like a land war and it ends on the same day as the events of 300.”

More about the story and the characters:

“The time frame begins 10 years before ‘300? and the story starts with the Battle of Marathon” … “The lead character is Themistocles, who became warlord of Greece and built their navy. The story is very different than ‘300? in that it involves Xerxes search for godhood. The existence of gods are presupposed in this story and the idea is that he well on his way to godhood by the end of the story. With Themistocles I have a character who is almost the dead opposite of Leonidas in that Themistocles was a lying, conniving, brilliant, heroic figure. He was nicknamed ‘The Subtle Serpent’ and he always manages to do the exact right things that will result in him benefiting greatly.”

The book will also see appearances from two other characters from 300, including Ephialtes, the Spartan traitor and “a brief appearance” by Leonidis (who was played by Gerard Butler in the movie adaptation).

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