Deadline reports that New Line has secured the rights to The Virginian, a project offering a thrilling look at the military life of George Washington before he donned the navy jacket of the Continental Army. Securing The Virginian advances a race between dueling Washington biopics; Red Granite’s simultaneous project, The General, is being eyed as a vehicle for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Virginian’s script was penned by Michael Gunn, who previously worked as a story editor on Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Gunn also boasts History and English degrees, although the pitch of an action movie depicting Washington as a down-and-out colonist “desperate to join the British Army” seems like a bit of a historical stretch. Most accounts paint Washington as a successful surveyor and son of a middle-class plantation owner, who was the beneficiary of a military appointment following the death of his brother.
Further muddying the waters of historical accuracy is the fact that Washington’s role in thrilling colonial action is associated at least as much with catastrophic military defeats as with rousing speeches and an inspiring stature—the latter making him a repeated target for enemy riflemen. It’s unclear at this point, but we’re guessing this action thriller won’t focus on Washington’s involvement in the Forbes Expedition, a friendly-fire debacle that needlessly left more than a dozen dead. The Virginian is being pitched as Last Of The Mohicans meets Braveheart, which means it very well may hone in on Washington’s relative success at his sanctioned killing of Native Americans, surely a crowd-pleasing topic at the box office.
Considering we’ve already seen a big-screen treatment of President Lincoln hunting down Nosferatu, watching a barrel-chested Washington wade hip-deep through rivers of blood, wielding dual hatchets, covered in war paint as his American Bald Eagle spirit totem shrieks overhead doesn’t seem that apocryphal by comparison. In fact, if New Line could take the small liberty of turning our historical French and Indian foes into legions of “fast zombies,” we could finally have the guilt-free, founding fathers prestige picture our country so richly deserves.