The prequel to 300, once called Xerxes and now 300: Battle of Artemisia, has been slowly moving forward for the last couple years as Frank Miller created the graphic novel on which the movie will be based. With Miller’s work done, Zack Snyder, director of 300, and his 300 writer Kurt Johnstad, have finished a script for the new film.

The next step is casting, and while one producer has teased the cameo returns of Gerard Butler and Lena Headey, Battle of Artemisia needs a new leading man to play Themosticles, a Greek general who led the defense against Persia’s invasion in 480 BCE.

Now Joel Edgerton, recently seen in The Thing, Animal Kingdom and Warrior, is reportedly in talks to strip down and oil up for the part.

Update: Edgerton has also reportedly been offered the lead in Steven Soderbergh‘s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Vulture says Warner Bros. is in talks with the actor. If he signs, he’ll work under the direction of Noam Murro, who recently bailed on Die Hard 5 in order to make the 300 prequel.

Battle of Artemisia producers Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari recently said of the Snyder/Johnstad script,

Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, his writing partner, have killed it. They’ve done a tremendous job making a highly intelligent, epic story that will stand on its own. But it’s not a conventional sequel and, for what we do, that’s what you hope and pray for. That you can be original and authentic at the same time.

Of the overall story, Frank Miller said last year,

…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.

Update: Vulture also says that WB is offering the lead in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to Edgerton, which makes this look like an either/or situation. (George Clooney was once going to take the role, but dropped out. Bradley Cooper has also been linked.) So, assuming that he does one of the two, which would you expect? The fun spy film from Soderbergh, which will likely involve the most impressive supporting cast of Edgerton’s career, or the 300 prequel, which could end up with a much bigger audience? I’d probably go with the Soderbergh, but the bigger money could be in 300.

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