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Catherine Hardwicke to Direct Queer Feminist Viking Saga Heathen

Valkyrie's not the only queer Norse mythology figure coming to the big screen.

catherine hardwicke

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke has landed her next project, an adaptation of the Vault Comics series Heathen. The acclaimed series by Natasha Alterici is a queer feminist take on Norse mythology which follows follows the journey of Viking warrior Aydis, who is banished from her tribe after she is caught kissing another woman. In response, Aydis decides to take on Odin himself and sets forth on a journey to free the defiant valkyrie Brynhild, with some help from the queer, polyamorous goddess of love, Freyja.

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Heathen, which is written and illustrated by Alterici, is one of the best queer comics out there. The series debuted in 2017 thanks to a successfu Kickstarter campaign, and quickly won fans by effortlessly melding a modern queer sensibility with Norse mythology nerdery.

heathen natasha alterici

(Vault Comics)

Hardwicke is an inspired choice to bring the comic to the big screen. While she is best known for Twilight, Hardwicke also directed 2003’s devastating Thirteen, as well as Lords of Dogtown and Miss Bala. The film will be scripted by Kerry Williamson, who wrote the Noomi Rapace Netflix thriller What Happened to Monday.

The feminist fairy tale is an apt choice for Hardwicke, who has been outspoken about sexism and double standards in the film industry. Despite directing Twilight, which grossed nearly $400 million worldwide (the highest grossing live-action film directed by a woman until Wonder Woman) she struggled to find work after the film’s release and was not rehired to direct the sequels.

heathen by natasha alterici cover by jen bartel

(Vault Comics)

Hardwicke said of the experience, “At the time I didn’t understand when people were dinging me for being whatever, emotional or difficult. Yet they’re praising all the male directors I’ve worked for for being passionate and visionary and sticking to their guns, fighting for what they want. But a woman is emotional, difficult, bitchy, whatever. I didn’t know those code words and I didn’t know they were used pervasively, and so I just took them personally.”

Alterici said of the film, “The entire Heathen team and I are incredibly excited about adapting my little lesbian viking comic for film, especially with a kindred spirit like Kerry writing it. I’ve been a film fanatic for longer than I’ve been a comics fans, and that my working in one format would lead to another is nothing less than a dream come true.”

Constatin Film and Prime Universe Films will produce the adaptation, along with Vault Comics and Hardwicke. Prime Universe Film’s Adrian Askarieh said of the film, “Natasha has created an instant classic which smartly ties into the current socio-political zeitgeist while being a first-rate, timeless adventure story … Not only is it a great passion of ours to bring Heathen to the big screen, but also a true honor.”

A swashbuckling lesbian Norse mythology fantasy adventure written and directed by women? Shut up and take all my money.

(via Deadline, image: Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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