Legendary Pictures’ forthcoming historical action epic The Great Wall is nothing if not ambitious. The American-Chinese collaborative project will take an alternative look at the reasons for the Great Wall of China’s construction, and features Matt Damon leading an army of humans against some kind of monstrous, fantastical threat to mankind. Directed by Zhang Yimou and written by Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Tony Gilroy, the movie marks Yimou’s first English language picture and was entirely shot in his native China.
While little is known about the plot as things stand, a brief trailer emerged in the last few months showing plenty of slick, stylized action sequences and Matt Damon as the picture of a brooding hero. But the preview only teased the movie’s monster antagonists, leaving plenty of room for speculation as to what the heroes on the wall will be fending off when the film is released next year.
Perhaps answers will arrive sooner rather than later however, as, according to Deadline, The Great Wall will be making an appearance at New York Comic Con at 12:30pm, October 8th, at the East Coast confab stage. Cast members Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal and Wang Junkai will be present and will hopefully be able to offer a few more hints as to what the multi-national action adventure will offer.
One thing The Great Wall panel at NYCC will almost certainly have to address is the controversy regarding the movie’s casting. The trailer depicts a largely Chinese army, fighting atop a Chinese landmark, led by a very-much-not-Chinese Matt Damon. Constance Wu notably criticized Damon’s casting, arguing that it panders to the old Hollywood stereotype of heroic white male protagonists who act as a ‘savior’ figure. Other commenters have countered that Damon’s casting is less to do with his being white and more to do with being a recognizable actor to a Western audience that guarantees ticket sales. Yimou has since spoken out against these accusations claiming that Damon’s character was always envisioned as a non-Chinese figure and praised the project for being “deeply rooted in Chinese culture” and featuring “one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled”.
That discussion aside, one thing The Great Wall almost certainly will be is an astounding visual spectacle. As if the trailer didn’t suggest as much in its short run-time, Yimou has an impressive resume that includes the memorable opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and directing the beautiful House of Flying Daggers.
The Great Wall will need more than good looks to be the international success Legendary clearly hopes it will be however, and perhaps the details revealed at NYCC will indicate whether or not the movie will have what it takes to become an international hit at the box office.
The Great Wall is out in U.S. theaters on February 17th 2017.