Given that the world is already full of enough horror at the moment, I decided to forgo the bizarre thriller flick I found and talk about an upcoming animated feature instead. Most of us have a pretty good grasp on at least one or two Greek myths—even if you didn’t have a unit about them in school, they’re somewhat inescapable in popular media. With re-imaginings like Percy Jackson maintaining a modicum of popularity, it’s no surprise that studios continue digging down into the mythology wellspring. Today I present a new take of the story of Icarus that has as much potential to be enthralling and thought-provoking as it does to be boring and even offensive.
The tale of Icarus, as the mythology has it, is mostly a tale about his father. Icarus’s father Daedalus was a brilliant craftsman whom the the king of Crete petitioned to craft a labyrinth to house the Minotaur in. (The Minotaur also happened to be the king’s stepson, but that’s another myth entirely.) Daedalus was then imprisoned by the king because he aided one of the adventurers cast into the labyrinth, and they ended up defeating the Minotaur. In order to escape Crete, Daedalus crafted two sets of wings, both made with wax, for both him and his son. Icarus was too excited to try out his wings and flew too close to the sun (literally), melting the wax and sending him plummeting back down to earth. A cheery tale for the ages.
French Pixar veteran Carlo Vogele is less interested in the final fate of our young hero, however, and more interested in exploring Icarus’s adolescence. Moreover, Vogele seeks to define an entirely new friendship between Icarus and the Minotaur. While this new angle of the story is definitely something I’m interested in, I feel that Vogele has a lot of work in front of him. The players in Greek myths are already difficult to relate to (mostly because 90% of them are terrible people), but trying to get the audience to bond with both Icarus and the Minotaur against the knowledge that they both inexorably die is an even larger challenge. Add on top of that the fact that Icarus’s secondary premise appears to be that the gods themselves are putting forth their own version of events as the “true” version of the myth, and my interest is piqued, if only to see if the writing can keep this movie from becoming a jumbled mess while still having compelling character arcs for Icarus and company.
What I’m thrilled to see is that for once the people in mythology are not presented as uniformly white. Both Icarus and his father, and many of the people of Crete, appear to have the olive/darker skin tone associated with the Mediterranean. Yet, if these mortal players in the myth are diverse, it confuses me that their gods are not. Zeus, Aphrodite, and Poseidon—the film’s narrators, and the aforementioned story-crafting gods—are all white and have looks which are very influenced by white European standards of beauty. Would it really have been so hard to have at least one of them not be white, especially since they seem to be working in our modern era and aren’t just looking back on the story?
Strangely, the tale of Icarus was never one of the stories that I covered during my mythology units in school. So I have to say that I’m pretty excited to watch this film when it comes out. Icarus’s art direction looks gorgeous and the twist on the tale may be just enough to distract me from how shitty Greek gods are like, all the time. Vogele and his crew have put forth an estimated release date (for presumably France/Europe) in 2019. Sure, that’s a long ways away, but I look forward to seeing how this film develops in the meantime.