In case you haven’t heard, Guy Ritchie is directing a King Arthur film, set for release in 2017 and expected to launch a six-movie series. It’s an incredibly ambitious endeavor and one that seems to have equal potential to delight or bitterly disappoint film fans.

Inevitably, the project (called Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur) is at the center of a controversy, albeit a relatively minor one. According to Blasting News, there’s a boycott of the first film underway already. A group of historians who claim to have uncovered the true history of the ancient king upon whom Arthurian lore is based wishes to see the real story told, rather than one grounded in mythology. Never mind that the 2004 film by Antoine Fuqua, King Arthur, actually did seek to tell a true version of Arthur’s tale. This time around we seem to be getting the legend rather than the history.

Although really we don’t know very much about Ritchie’s project. The cast, or most of it at any rate, can be viewed at IMDB. A brief synopsis is listed too, though it’s rather cryptic, pitching a “classic Sir Lancelot story” despite the fact that Lancelot is the only classic character whose casting has not been announced. Beyond these few details however not much has been revealed about the plot or structure of the first film, or how it’s going to set up a six-movie franchise. So with roughly a year to go before the release of Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur, here are five ideas we hope Ritchie has taken into account.

Pick A Known Up-And-Comer For Lancelot

There’s actually very little buzz out there about the casting for Lancelot, and it may even be that he’s not meant to appear until the second film. But that seems unlikely. At this stage, the casting of Lancelot may be the biggest opportunity for publicity left between now and the film’s release, and it will naturally play a major role in shaping the series as well. So who might Ritchie and Warner Bros. go for? It’s tough to say given that the cast so far is a blend of old pros and up-and-comers. But we’d suggest going with the latter for Lancelot given that it’s a better fit alongside Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam, who’s playing Arthur. Hunnam is actually 36 but is known almost entirely through TV work. Lancelot ought to be a little younger and should probably be similarly famous. Fortunately there’s no shortage of British actors who fit that description.

Use The Veterans A Lot

Inverse did a nice write-up about the concept of this six-movie epic, and rightly pointed out that the likes of Eric Bana and Jude Law in the cast are very interesting assets. Neither has been particularly active of late but both are well known to fans and have done some excellent work in the past. By the look of things, Law will play a villain named Vortigern and Bana will be Uther Pendragon, traditionally Arthur’s father. Naturally the first film will revolve around Hunnam, but emphasizing these supporting characters is the right way to go to establish legitimacy right off the bat.

Introduce Merlin – As A Scholar

Early word is that Djimon Hounsou’s Ser Bedivere will serve as a sort of adviser to Arthur, perhaps even in place of a traditional Merlin character. We’d argue that Merlin is such an established figure in Arthurian lore that he should be included, though perhaps more as a scholar than a wizard. This goes against early storybooks but it’s actually not without precedent. The 2004 King Arthur film cast Merlin as a sort of woodland tribal leader, mysterious but not overtly magical. Furthermore, Gala Casino’s jackpots include a Merlin-themed slot game that may actually be the most modern interpretation of the character. There, the slot reel is populated by symbols like ornate rings and heavy books, and Merlin is described as a “conjurer and adviser.” But the background looks essentially like a study, with candles and books dominating the setting. A Merlin of this sort – alone in a royal study pouring over books and offering s
age advice – could be a very strong character.

Limit Magic In General

While we’re at it, Ritchie could go a long way toward appeasing the boycotting historians by simply cutting back on the magic associated with Arthurian tales. Merlin appearing as more of a teacher than a wizard would be a nice start, but the idea should be taken even further. There should be no magical “chosen one” pulling of a sword from a stone, no lady living in a lake, and no dragons or other mythical beasts patrolling the countryside. It’ll simply be a more serious series, and almost certainly one with more staying power.

Don’t Make It Episodic By Character

We don’t yet know the confirmed titles of films two through six in this franchise, but Vanity Fair’s article a little while back taking an early look at Charlie Hunnam in the role of Arthur posed a theory. Basically, they suggested that the next titles will be Knights Of The Roundtable: Lancelot, Knights Of The Roundtable: Galahad, etc. That’s a neat idea, and it gives Ritchie the interesting ability to add one major cast member with each new film. But it also feels like a gimmick. Arthurian lore is traditionally about characters’ quests rather than simply the gathering of those characters, and arranging films by quest or adventure would feel more natural.

Basically, Ritchie’s franchise could go in pretty much any direction it likes at this point. All we really have is a partial cast. But we think these following these suggestions would make for a good start and help Ritchie and Warner Bros. to find more success than they’ve found with, say, Zack Snyder’s superhero franchises.