Netflix’s Cursed will explore the legend of King Arthur and Excalibur in a whole new way. The series is based off a book authored by screen writer Thomas Wheeler known for such works as Empire and The Arcanum and featuring illustration by comic book legend Frank Miller.
While speaking to Barnes & Noble the pair described their take on the legend as “Mists of Avalon meets The Hunger Games.” So what do they mean by that?
Focus on The Lady of the Lake
As the pair were working on their idea for Cursed they felt that King Arthur had been “played out” in many ways.
With multiple adaptations, movies, television shows, and multiple other incarnations of the legend, they set their eyes on someone else, the Lady of the Lake.
Wheeler explained he wanted to frame the story for his own daughter, hoping that she “might be similarly inspired by the mythology, the way I was when I saw John Boorman’s Excalibur.”
Wheeler added, “Who was her King Arthur? What character could be her entry point into this world? The legend of the Lady of the Lake offered some tantalizing possibilities. Who was she? What was she? How did she end up this mysterious, seemingly tragic figure, with this fateful connection to Excalibur? This ended up being the spark.”
Wheeler makes it clear the story is told through Nimue’s eyes. He explains, “Telling the story through Nimue’s eyes allowed us to introduce all of the characters of the Mythos in totally new and unexpected ways.”
He adds, “For fans of Arthurian mythology, there are many surprises and mysteries to unravel surrounding some very well-known characters and some fun reveals along the way.”
As for just exactly who Nimue is, Wheeler elaborates, “Nimue is Fey Kind, 16-years-old and the daughter of her clan’s Arch Druid. In many ways she is a normal teenager, reckless, brave, certain she’s right all the time, restless to see the world, but she’s a pariah among her people, thanks to the scars on her back, the result of an encounter with a Dark God in her early childhood, an encounter she should not have survived but somehow did.”
Nimue’s journey begins when her village is attacked by a group called the Red Paladins. Wheeler describes them as a “a zealous and violent religious sect, dedicated to the extermination of the Fey.”
Nimue is entrusted with a package by her dying mother and told, “Bring this to Merlin.”
If it wasn’t clear already this retelling of the Arthurian legend is about Nimue and her journey, Wheeler states, “These words set Nimue on an incredible path toward a remarkable destiny: for this is the story of the woman who wielded Excalibur before King Arthur. The story of the one, true Queen.
Race Change Of King Arthur
The show will also feature a race-swapped Arthur. The character will be portrayed by actor Devon Terrell.
The show introduced Terrell’s Arthur on Instagram in July 2019.
They described him as a “young mercenary destined to become something greater.”
Are these Changes Good?
Does this story sound interesting? Miller and Wheeler both have an impressive track record when it comes to creating content, whether it’s films or comics; but there are a few concerning details about Cursed that scream social justice.
First, the Lady of the Lake, or as Wheeler states, “the woman who wielded Excalibur before King Arthur. The story of the one, true Queen.”
Is it really an interesting idea? It seems that the pair are riding the coattails of an established legend, one that was centered on a male protagonist.
This is unimaginative since by using the Arthurian legend they’re already saying, without saying it, that the story cannot be interesting unless it draws from the essence of another source.
Then there is Arthur himself. Terrell might be a wonderful actor, but why race change King Arthur?
Of course Hollywood has a long tradition of doing such things, Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of I.Y. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a perfect example of this.
Now that specific sort of casting wouldn’t be tolerated, for good reason, so why is it being tolerated now? Could it be because the industry finds it is in style now? If so, it’d only be fair if the road crossed both ways.
I’d wonder if we’d see a white Irishman play Blade? Personally, I hope not
Or will we see a black Genghis Khan? I mean we saw one with John Wayne’s The Conqueror, just as cringy.
With all of this in mind, it seems that Netflix’s Cursed is hitting all the notes of post-modern progressive group think.
This is disappointing since driving deep into the rich lore of British magical and legends sounds very interesting.
I want to hear from you, what is your take on Cursed?