Lainey and I have been going back and forth for the last few days about The Huntsman: Winter’s War. I think it has the potential to be Pan levels of bad—no one is asking for this movie, and the first entry into the franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman, was only okay. It’s not like this is expanding from a smash hit widely popular movie. The audience is maybe only kind of there for it, at best. Lainey, however, is sort of encouraged by the whole thing. I think she’s being suckered by the level of talent involved—anything with Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, AND Emily Blunt can’t suck that bad, right?—but then the trailer came out, and she might have the right of it. It doesn’t look that bad.
Snow White was an incredibly gorgeous movie, and The Huntsman shares that, offering a lot of eye-popping visuals. The director, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, was the VFX supervisor on Snow White, so we should at least expect the sequel to look at least just as good. But what I wasn’t expecting was for the story to actually seem kind of interesting. Answering a long-held question about The Huntsman—it’s definitely a sequel. There’s a flashback reference in the trailer, so we’re going to get some backstory, but it’s clearly a sequel to Snow White, with the Huntsman’s past coming back to bite him on the ass.
And it’s also a soft reboot. There was already a lot of backstory in Snow White, but this looks to be reinventing the Huntsman as a soldier and not just some villager whose wife died and he was sad about it. Now the Huntsman and his wife are reframed as fellow soldiers in the Ice Queen’s army, there’s a whole forbidden love aspect, and it also appears his wife comes back in the “present” day so forget the whole widower thing, we’re tossing that out the window. Snow White also made it clear that Charlize Theron’s evil queen was basically Medieval Fancy’d by her mother, and that’s why she was black widowing kings and being evil. Forget that—now she has a magical sister and they were always evil royalty.
I can roll with all these adjustments—even though I really liked Ravenna’s backstory in Snow White—because The Huntsman, despite its masculine title, is CLEARLY about the three badass ladies. A source familiar with the production told me it’s all about the women and their connections, and Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman is just the thread tying stories together. Universal would like this to be a franchise where they can drop the Huntsman into various fairytales, pairing him with different heroines every time.
Hemsworth is basically playing fourth-fiddle to Theron, Blunt, and Chastain, and to his credit, he’s fine with it. He’s always been chill about female protagonists, though, and he’s the one Avenger who hasn’t ever said dumb sh*t about women on a press tour, so The Greater Hemsworth is probably the ideal guy to service a female-driven franchise like this. I’m not sold yet, but this doesn’t look as immediately awful as Pan. The Huntsman: Winter’s War has successfully engaged my curiosity.
Here is Emily Blunt at a Golden Globe celebration last night in Hollywood.