Benedict Cumberbatch has already won our hearts with his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and now he will be taking on a role in yet another classic, much-loved story, The Jungle Book. Cumberbatch proved his ability to play a villain in Stark Trek: Into Darkness, and now he will fittingly be playing another notorious villain called Khan: Shere Khan, man-eating tiger and Mowgli’s lifelong enemy.
Warner Bros’s The Jungle Book: Origins will be directed by Andy Serkis, who will be making his directorial debut with the film. While many are most familiar with the 1967 animated Disney musical, Serkis’s movie will be based primarily on the original stories by Rudyard Kipling. Published in 1894, Kipling’s collection of stories feature a young boy named Mowgli who was raised in the jungle away from all civilization and human interaction. Like the Disney film, Serkis’s new version seems like it will focus in particular on the story Mowgli’s Brothers, in which a young boy is raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther, while clashing with his enemy Shere Khan, the predatory tiger.
The Jungle Book: Origins will make extensive use of motion-capture technology, a technique that is familiar to both Serkis and Cumberbatch due to their roles in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films. Serkis received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Gollum in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Cumberbatch has more recently been introduced to motion-capture technology through his role as Smaug in The Hobbit. And if Smaug is anything to go by, then Cumberbatch has the perfect voice for a villainous creature with a deep, scheming tone. Just listen to Shere Khan (video above) and tell me the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t perfect.
Unfortunately for Warner Bros’s film, Disney is also making a Jungle Book remake directed by Jon Favreau that will be released twelve months earlier than Serkis’s movie. It looks like there will be some Jungle Book competition in the near future. Disney’s live-action/CGI version has already been casted, with Idris Elba voicing Shere Khan. While Elba’s skill is undeniable, Cumberbatch is a solid choice for his competition, and we can only hope that the two actors are able to differentiate the characters enough for each to stand on his own.
The script for Warner Bros’s adaptation was co-written by Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves and his daughter Callie Kloves. According to Screenrant, Serkis has described the script as being “very truthful to the original book; it doesn’t shy away from its darkness. The jungle is a Garden of Eden and a wonderful place for Mowgli to grow up in, but also is a place of fear and a place of threat.” This darker take on Kipling’s stories will hopefully differentiate The Jungle Book: Origins from Disney’s remake, as well as from the lighthearted, 1967 musical.
The Jungle Book: Origins will be released in theaters on October 21, 2016.