Disney almost made its own version of ‘The Northman’ two decades ago

the northman

Robert Eggers’ brutal historical epic The Northman is winning rave reviews ahead of its theatrical debut next week, with the filmmaker’s $70 million revenge saga hoping to become one of the increasingly rare R-rated movies to make a sizeable dent in the box office.

It would be an understatement to say the film wouldn’t work in a PG-13 environment, but Disney had designs on mounting a very similar blockbuster two decades ago. A viral Twitter thread from Shannon & Swift has broken down what happened to the Mouse House’s Norse-inspired tale, and it’s fascinating stuff.

Described as “a high-impact action adventure”, the duo sold their pitch to the studio in a six-figure deal, in what sounds like an intoxicating hybrid of The Northman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor, which would have followed “a washed-up Viking legend” who gathers his old crew of marauders for one last mission to save the world from a nefarious force.

The story was poised to incorporate giants, berserkers, sea monsters, Valkyries, and other mythological connections in what certainly sounds to be a sprawling hybrid of the gritty battle film, and an effects-driven crowd-pleaser with franchise potential.

Disney’s mid-2000s slate saw the company try to replicate the Pirates of the Caribbean formula on several occasions through the likes of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Lone Ranger, and others to little success, so there would be no guarantee Shannon & Swift’s Viking tale would have been a success, even though we kind of wish it had happened.