So far, the most talked-about movie trailer this month has been for Captain America: Civil War thanks to the last-second introduction of Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, another trailer has just been released that deserves a look, and that’s the latest one for The Legend of Tarzan. Scheduled for release on July 1 and starring Alexander Skarsgard in the title role, the movie is the latest in a long list of appearances of the “King of the Jungle” on the silver screen. And we do mean a lot; according to IMDB, 200 movies with “Tarzan” in the title were released between 1918 and 2014! But what makes this 2016 attempt stand out? Find out below, but warning: there will potentially be The Legend of Tarzan spoilers pertaining to the plot.
For those unfamiliar (and therefore probably rather young), Tarzan is the main character of a series of books created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first initially seeing publication in 1912. They tell the story of Tarzan, who, after his parents’ deaths while they were marooned in Africa, came to be raised by apes. Eventually, a group of Americans are similarly marooned in the same area, leading to Tarzan’s first contact with the outside world. While he does return to civilization for a time, the “call of the wild” brings him back to the jungle soon enough. There are 25 novels based around the character, though not all were written by Burroughs.
The film began development in 2003, but principal photography didn’t begin until 2014. Inspired by the highly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the film hopes to do something similar with a franchise that, in every iteration, has tended to tread the same water: with each movie or TV show tending to just retell the first story of how Tarzan came to live in the jungle and meet his love interest, Jane Porter; even the beloved Disney animated version did this, though with Phil Collins songs.
To separate itself from its predecessors, The Legend of Tarzan will bypass Tarzan’s beginnings entirely and take place after Tarzan has left Africa for London to live with Jane, now his wife. However, he returns to the jungle when called upon to act as a trade emissary, blind to the fact that his presence there is part of an evil plan by Belgian soldier Léon Rom, a real-life figure known to be horribly cruel to Africans and who was also believed to be the inspiration for Kurtz in another famous literary work, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
And much like Heart of Darkness, this new film looks like it may get pretty heavy with the violence, if the new trailer is any indication. Featuring scary natives, a massive wildebeest stampede and brutal ape-on-human brutality, this take on Tarzan looks to be more brutal. If you need more proof, look no further than the very beginning of the trailer when a pack of apes straight-up kill a guy. Can’t play Phil Collins in the background of something like that!
But don’t think CGI will be doing all the work in this movie; Alexander Skarsgard went the extra mile preparing for a film where he will spend 90% of the time without a shirt on. According to the actor, a trainer and nutritionist were needed to prepare him for the role, beginning his physical training months in advance, which he joked consisted largely of “chicken cutlets and crunches.” They were also very strict about keeping him to his exercise and diet plans, saying he cried in joy the one day he was allowed to cheat and eat whatever he wanted. And now viewers will be able to see the results of his training when The Legend of Tarzan comes to theaters July 1!