Just wanted to share with everyone why I am not actively supporting the cause of a Xena movie. Before doing so, I would like to explain that I am not trying to be controversial or adversarial about it. I will try to be a respectful.
I have been a Xena fan right from the beginning. I was not a Hercules fan at the time, but I remember seeing the previews for it on TV before the show premiered. The first time I saw Lucy Lawless I was struck by how stunningly beautiful she is. I remember vividly when “Sins of the Past” premiered. It was a Friday evening @ 7 PM. I had a friend who was visiting me and as he was leaving my house the opening credits came on, and my friend said when Lucy Lawless’s name flashed on the screen, “That can’t possibly be her real name.” It sounded like a stage name for him or something, but his comment was funny.
Anyways, I watched the show over the years almost regularly. I kinda lost my way somewhere along the 5th season and didn’t watch the show as religiously as I once did. When I heard that the show was ending I tuned in to watch the two hour finale. Xena gets killed somehow during the first 3rd of the episode, and I thought, “oh no big deal. Xena has died before, and she’ll come back to life.” Then they attached the whole redemption thing to it, but then I thought, “It’s just something they have to figure out by the end of the episode. Yep, there goes loyal Gabrielle. She’ll do it for Xena.” But no, Xena stops her, and I was like “What??!!”
But I let it go, and filed away my disappoint me a bit later when the “A Friend In Need” director’s cut came out on DVD. If I am remembering correctly, AFIN was the first Xena DVD release before the season sets came out or at least one of the first besides the Hercules Xena episodes where the character is first introduced.
I remember reading the review for AFIN. May have been on IGN.com. In the review, the reviewer very effectively put into words the same feelings I had attached to the finale. First of all the setting did not feel right. It took place in Japan not a familiar setting for Xena. The episode did not feature any of the characters familiar to the show. It had no Ares, no Callisto, no Joxer, no Meg, no Eve, no Aphrodite, no anybody. All you had was Xena and Gabrielle. I realize some of those characters I mentioned were deceased by the finale, but I mention them to illustrate a point.
Finally the reviewer hit on the proverbial nail what I really felt about the episode. I felt manipulated. What plays out in front of our eyes in AFIN is that Xena is dead, it is final, and there is nothing that you, the fan, can do about it.
As I recall this is how they wanted to go out. Lucy Lawless was pretty stressed out and wanted to take a break. The creators of the show thought this was the way they wanted to end the show for whatever reason.
Over the years I remember the subject would come up over and over again at Xena conventions and other appearances that Lucy Lawless would make together with her husband about Robert Tapert about the possibility about them bringing back Xena for a movie. I am sure it got tiresome for them. I could never imagine being a celebrity being the asked the same thing over and over. I remembering reading one such appearance Bob and Lucy made that it seemed like they got irritated being asked again. Up to then they would give the same answer and said something like they way the show ended was the way they wanted it to end, and that was that.
Then suddenly they had a change of heart. Sometime in 2008 I think it was, Tapert was asked about a Xena movie, and then the next year at the Xena convention during a Q & A session Robert said that they were interested in doing a movie. They are having difficulty with obtaining the rights, and they could not think of a way to bring Xena back. I remember sitting with the con goers, “Aha! so you want to bring the show back, but because of the way the show ended, you can’t figure out a way to bring Xena back?” They have in essence created a sort of Chinese finger cuffs for themselves that they can’t think themselves out of.
Fans have figured out clever ways to bring back Xena in their fanfics especially in the Subtext and Shipper seasons, but in the case of the Shipper Seasons, Ares plays a big part, and you can’t have that because of the untimely death of Kevin Smith. You could recast Ares, but I don’t think you can recapture the chemistry Lawless had with Smith. It’s like Heath Ledger’s death. You can bring back the Joker for the next Batman movie but can that other actor recreate what Ledger did?
So let’s say they did find a way to bring Xena back, would that really work for the big screen? Typically when a franchise hits the big screen, like Star Trek for instance, for it to be successful, they have to bring in a new audience. That means you have to write a movie that stands alone, and a Xena movie cannot be that, because you have rehash how Xena died, and explain how you are going to bring her back. Only way I think this may work is a TV movie or mini series. That gives you the chance to explain things more effectively than you can a feature film. Production will be lower than a feature film, and if they were pursue a TV movie, please do not let that god awful Syfy network anywhere near it.
But I don’t think that’s going to happen. Fans want a feature film, and are pushing hard for it. There are cases where the fandom is the driving force to reviving a franchise. Take Star Trek for instance, it was because of the fans who wrote NBC to bring back the show for a 3rd season, and after the show, it was because of fan support that they were able to have a movie made 10 years after the show was cancelled.
I can see a movie being made for Xena, but I think somebody else is going to secure the rights for it not Tapert and company. It’s going to be made by somebody not familiar with the show, and going to be cast with younger actors. We’re going to be stuck with a re-imagination or reboot. They may give Lucy and Renee cameos to appease us older fans of the show, but I can almost guarantee that everyone else will be re-cast. So as they say, be careful for what you wish for…