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Vin Diesel's 'Hannibal' Trilogy Is Still Alive. Says He's Taking His Time To Get Everything Right

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by Tambay A. Obenson
August 26, 2013 10:49 AM
36 Comments
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I lifted the below from a nice profile of Vin Diesel in Variety, in which they tout his patient approach to developing his projects, and emphasis on story, highlighting his early days as a struggling actor, to his current status as Hollywood box office star. 

Meanwhile, he’s positively giddy about the progress on “Hannibal,” the kick-off film in his epic Punic Wars saga, which he calls “the first history-of-the-universe trilogy.” Though fans have heard about the project for years, Diesel has been taking his time, reaching out to contacts such as Frank Miller and Spielberg (still in touch, post-“Ryan”) for their creative counsel. “It’s about waiting until you get it all on the table and everything is right,” says Diesel, who identifies with the impulse that drove Mel Gibson to direct “Braveheart” himself. “I don’t have to make a movie. I do it out of love.”

So if you've been wondering, as we have, why his Hannibal trilogy (which we've been following for about 4 years now), has yet to materialize, and if it ever will, there's your answer. In short, it's definitely not dead; it's still very much in motion. He's just taking his time with it, so that he can get it right. And I certainly can't be critical of that! I think we all want a great Hannibal franchise. 

Last we mentioned it on this blog, it was about a year ago, when Diesel shared, with excitement on his Facebook fan page,  that he'd found a studio interested in the project on the Carthaginian general who led an army, complete with war elephants, across the Alps, to battle Rome in the Second Punic war (his father Hamilcar Barca was the leading Carthaginian commander during the First Punic War).

Denzel Washington, at one time, before Diesel, was interested in the role. But it looks like it's Diesel's now; although Diesel previously shared that he met with the late director Tony Scott, who was apparently interested in helming the trilogy, with Scott adding that he would get Denzel to play Hamilcar, Hannibal's father.

As we know, Tony Scott passed away last year. No word on what other directors Diesel might be talking to for the job now - other than Steven Spielberg's creative counsel. Although this actually sounds more like Tony's brother, Ridley Scott's territory - the historical epic.

But if (or maybe I should say when) this trilogy happens, it'll be a pretty big deal. We're talking a fairly large budget, especially if a trilogy is the plan, as Vin stated. And if Diesel is able to bring Denzel on-board to play his father, and load up the cast with other notables, as well as top director, it'll definitely be a project that'll demand attention.

Stay tuned...

Read the full Variety profile.

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36 Comments

  • Abdulkareem | June 28, 2014 12:12 AMReply

    Hannibal Barca was an Amazigh (North African). Stop trying to claim him as your own white people and that goes for everybody else as well. He was an Amazigh like me, we Amazigh people are the indegenous people of North Africa and have a history in North Africa that goes back more than 4000 years, some even say 5000 years. He wasn't a black man (as in a dark African from the south of Africa), he was a dark man from the North of Africa like me. Hence the term "North African." I can't even take African Americans who claim him to be black seriously since they don't even know what their real name is and their own history was destroyed by white people. That means you don't know much about history. He was an AMAZIGH, look it up. We are called Amazigh (singular) or Imazighen (plural).

  • Abdulkareem | June 28, 2014 12:12 AMReply

    Hannibal Barca was an Amazigh (North African). Stop trying to claim him as your own white people and that goes for everybody else as well. He was an Amazigh like me, we Amazigh people are the indegenous people of North Africa and have a history in North Africa that goes back more than 4000 years, some even say 5000 years. He wasn't a black man (as in a dark African from the south of Africa), he was a dark man from the North of Africa like me. Hence the term "North African." I can't even take African Americans who claim him to be black seriously since they don't even know what their real name is and their own history was destroyed by white people. That means you don't know much about history. He was an AMAZIGH, look it up. We are called Amazigh (singular) or Imazighen (plural).

  • joshua | June 25, 2014 12:28 PMReply

    Zuke, one more thing:

    If Hannibal was black, then the contemporary history books would have mentioned it.

  • jjbreak | March 7, 2014 10:56 AMReply

    Oh here we go, white people have no issues with a white man playing Jesus but let a black man play an actual black man and there's a problem. Oh all of a sudden we need to go back an check the facts! Hannibal was a black man..DEAL WITH IT.

  • joshua | June 25, 2014 12:24 PM

    Hi Zuka,

    I'm not personally offended, though I could have worded my comment better.

    Africans north of the Sahara are not what most people would call black, agreed?

    Look at the marble bust of Hannibal. Does that look like a black person to you?

  • Zuka | May 3, 2014 1:39 PM

    Joshua as a Tunisian I can tell you that no one will ever know what Hannibal, or Carthaginians for that matter, looked like - they were massacred along with their history (and most if not all of the information we do have about them was tailored by the romans). But considering Carthaginians were descendants of ancient canaanites and likely mixed with native north africans would suggest that he was a person of color. he probably didn't look like a western african but i'm sure he looked more like, what we would consider today, a person of color then a caucasian.

    "Your ignorance of History is disturbing, angry, and inappropriate." I'm curious why you're so personally offended by someone calling him black. this conjecture is probably more legitimate then your assumption that he was white (Southern Spain and Lebanon didn't exist back then as we know it today as culture or peoples)

  • Joshua | April 12, 2014 2:03 PM

    No, he wasn't. He lived in Southern Spain and was of Lebanese descent. Your ignorance of History is disturbing, angry, and inappropriate.

  • Mike | January 15, 2014 9:29 PMReply

    I won't talk about color of the races. I will however give facts. Canaan the son of Ham. Look up the Zondervan definition of Ham. The Canaanites gave birth to the Philistines(Palestinians). Tyrians & Phoenicians descend from theses peoples who gave rise to Carthage & spoke a Hamito-Semitic language. Keep in mind they were still using the ancient Canaanite alphabet. I can tell you that there was huge migrations wave after wave out of the Fertile Cresant into Africa. There are racist historians & anthropologist that can back this info up. Not to mention modern technology that points towards Negriod. Everything was destroyed for debate sake....it's just that simple.

  • Agron Legioneras | December 26, 2013 5:46 AMReply

    Hannibal's tactical mastery and brutality would suggest that he was a white man. Some people here Africa and automatically think black.

  • Casey | December 14, 2013 6:39 PMReply

    Uggghhh... After a long obsession with the great story of Hannibal I was shocked to find Vin Diesel is thinking about making the movie and (shudder) going to be the star. Then after looking it up on the internet and reading the comments most of them are stupidly obsessed with Hannibal's race. After reading some crazy Lebonese guy rail against the choice of Hannibal as a black guy (apparently he is pretty obsessed with the idea that Lebanese Christians are "aryan") I come here for some sanity and find a bunch of afrocentrics claiming that Vin Diesel isn't black enough. I found a few coins, some thought to be hannibal, some look "white" others look "black".

    "Hannibal is white" people: Just shut up. I don't care how many Lebanese people that you show me that look white. You can't seriously think that the Pheonicians did not mix with the Numidians during the 600 or so years that they lived and traded together.
    "Hannibal is black" people: Maybe, if that makes you feel better than go for it. I personally think black people are pretty awesome whether or not you get Hannibal Barca on your "team", so the whole argument is unnessecary. But you can't act like a mixed or middle eastern Hannibal is outrageous, seriously its as good as a guess as any.

    Main point: The main problem with Vin Diesel as Hannibal is not his ethnicity, a mixed race Hannibal is a good guess. The main problem with Vin Diesel is the fact that he is a terrible actor people!! This is one of the best stories of all time and its true!! I don't want that mumbling, juiced-up douche bag, who is famous for the Fast and Furious butchering one of the best stories of all time!! Black, white, or arab Vin please pick a better actor to be Hannibal...

  • tony | December 6, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    In response to Celia comment I will take a passage from the works of Homer.

    "The Odyssey Homer Translated by
    Ian Johnston Malaspina University-College Nanaimo, BC Canada"
    pages 318, 319

    “Son of Laertes,
    resourceful Odysseus, sprung from Zeus,
    Now is the time to speak to your own son—
    make yourself known and don't conceal the facts,
    so you two can plan the suitors' lethal fate,
    then go together to the famous city.
    I won't be absent from you very long—
    I'm eager for the battle.”
    As she said this, Athena
    touched Odysseus with her golden wand. To start with,
    319
    she placed a well-washed cloak around his body,
    then made him taller and restored his youthful looks.
    His skin grew dark once more, his countenance filled out, 220
    and the beard around his chin turned black again.
    Once she'd done this, Athena left. But Odysseus
    returned into the hut. His dear son was amazed.
    He turned his eyes away, afraid it was a god,
    and spoke to him—his words had wings:

  • Celia | November 20, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    Interesting this argument about race. The terms "black" and "white" as we use them today were unheard of in ancient times. They are ideas that simply did not exist then. Humans have been on planet earth for thousands of years and no doubt inter-mixing for thousands of years. There is no definite race, but the human race. A person with blonde hair, blue eyes & fair skin could have an ancestor from thousands of years ago who was of a brown complexion with kinky hair & dark eyes. Hannibal was neither black nor white because those ideas didn't exist in his day. No one was called black or white.

  • tony bryant | December 3, 2013 6:19 AM

    I will respond to this comment with the works of Homer "The Odyssey Homer Translated by
    Ian Johnston Malaspina University-College Nanaimo, BC Canada" pages 318, 319

    “Son of Laertes,
    resourceful Odysseus, sprung from Zeus,
    Now is the time to speak to your own son—
    make yourself known and don't conceal the facts,
    so you two can plan the suitors' lethal fate,
    then go together to the famous city.
    I won't be absent from you very long—
    I'm eager for the battle.”
    As she said this, Athena
    touched Odysseus with her golden wand. To start with,
    319
    she placed a well-washed cloak around his body,
    then made him taller and restored his youthful looks.
    His skin grew dark once more, his countenance filled out, 220
    and the beard around his chin turned black again.
    Once she'd done this, Athena left. But Odysseus
    returned into the hut. His dear son was amazed.
    He turned his eyes away, afraid it was a god,
    and spoke to him—his words had wings:

  • Donella | August 27, 2013 7:05 PMReply

    Not only that, Ridley Scott's working on Exodus, starring Christian Bale, Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton. John Tuturro and Ben Kingsley added for flavor.

  • Mike | August 27, 2013 6:00 PMReply

    OK, this is not meant to insult anyone here, but I can see that there are a lot of assumptions being made about the race of Hannibal Barca borne out of misunderstandings of Ancient history. I'm a historian and I have studied the Ancient Mediterranean, and I feel that, for the sake of historical remembrance, it should be said that Hannibal would most likely not be considered "black" nor "white" in the modern world.

    He was a member of the Punic people of Carthage, located in what is now Tunisia in North Africa, north of the Sahara, bordering Algeria and Libya. The Punics themselves were descended from Phoenician migrants who originated in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. In other words, Hannibal most likely looked more like the people who now live in Lebanon or Syria than with African-Americans in the United States.

    There is a strong tradition of black leaders and rulers in African history, but Hannibal was not a part of the tradition, instead belonging to a different, Semitic culture, and it is a form of cultural imperialism to insist otherwise. There is no need for any ethnic group, White, Black, Middle Eastern, or anything else, to inaccurately co-opt a historical figure, and doing so ignores the actual strong historical figures of said ethnic groups. Professor Grover Furr wrote a very interesting article on the problems of that way of thinking. It can be found on his Montclair State University website under the name "The Fallacies of Afrocentrism."

    For more information about Blacks in the Ancient Mediterranean, I would recommend the pioneering works of Frank M. Snowden, Jr.

  • SonOfHam | September 16, 2013 1:51 AM

    Hello,Mike

    I'd like to point out some interesting sources i think you may of missed concerning the ancient Canaanites. The Canaanites were Semitic speakers only, but that in no way means they were physically Shemites(Caucasians). I had that confirmed with Christopher Ehret a professor at UCLA who explained, and i'll quote...

    Dear Mr. ******,
    "Yes, you are right, Semitic is a language group, consisting of many different languages. It forms one of the six deep branches of the Afroasiatic family. It is not and never should be used as term descriptive of the outward appearance of people. It correctly refers to language only. Dr. Keita and I think that the people belonging to the Mushabian culture, which spread from the Delta of Lower Egypt into Palestine around 10,500 BCE, may have brought the very earliest ancestral form of the later Semitic group of languages across Sinai into the far southwestern corner of Asia.
    Even in the fourth millennium BCE, though, the Egyptian stretches of the Nile were already a crossroads of human contacts. At around 3500 BCE trade goods coming all the way from Syria reached as far south as the kingdom of Qustul, south of Egypt along the Nubian stretches of the Nile. In the Middle Kingdom the Egyptians traded with people all around the eastern Mediterranean. So there would have been people who came from Mycenae and Crete and Syria-Palestine to trade and sometimes live in Egypt even that long ago."
    Sincerely,
    Professor Christopher Ehret

    It's interesting that the account in Genesis chapter ten and 6th century Babylonian Talmud references state the Canaanites as being connected to the peoples of Africa. Whether you're against Afrocentrisim or Skeptical of Biblical genealogy, and Hebraic sources, one has to wonder why Hebrew literature would suggest such a definite connection to the peoples of Africa,Nevertheless, who lived within close proximity of Canaan. Also interesting, I have seen imagery of Canaanites depicted on pottery fragments discovered in Israel, and they appear black like Egyptians and Ethiopians. Hannibal was of Phoenician ancestry which was a subset of the Canaanites. Today there is a supposed remnant Canaanite group living in Ethiopia known as the Qemant, who claim descension from a son of Canaan,however, how true that is i can not say.

    In regards to Hannibals physical appearance, there's know doubt he was swarthy perhaps even darker. My sentiments are one can not know the true Canaanites without understanding they were never from Shem's line to begin with. Now if Canaan's brother was Ethiopia, its hard to postulate them being anything other then dark skinned. I personally know a few Ethiopians and Eritreans and they identify as being black Africans. In conclusion to the information presented, it is hard to posit anything else concerning the racial make up of the Canaanites. All ancient sources including the remains of material culture from archaeology seem to bring your hypothesis to abrupt halt. When realizing that your view, and those of historical value are completely antithetical to one another.

  • LL2 | September 8, 2013 10:04 PM

    @Anthony Rayner

    You are right only a DNA test would prove for sure whether or not Hannibal had sub-Saharan African ancestry. Until then I see no need to speculate because at that point we could start speculating about anything. We could say that Jews are actually black because the children of Israel spent time in Egypt as slaves. The fact is most mainstream historians believe that the people of Carthage were not indigenous to Africa and were not black. As for your comment that the Berbers changed because of the Arab invasion, aren't Arabs considered Afro-Asiatic as well? If I'm not mistaken, Arabic is an Afro-Asiatic language.

  • LL2 | September 8, 2013 9:51 PM

    @Truth IS

    Hannibal was not a Moor, he was a Carthaginian. Moors were from areas like Morocco and Mauritania. While Hannibal was from present-day Tunisia.

  • truth is | September 8, 2013 9:22 PM

    Wrong!!! Hannibal wasa Moor and they were black just the Egyptians. It cracks me up. U can have pictures, relics of hair and u all still dont want to give credit to black people

  • ANTHONY RAYNER | September 2, 2013 2:31 PM

    Another point I would like to make is that the "race" of many groups can change over several centuries, yes today the Berbers would perhaps not be considered black but they were originally an afro-asiatic people; after the Arab invasion of North Africa in the 5th century A.D., not only did their language change but their appearance as well.

  • ANTHONY RAYNER | September 2, 2013 2:24 PM

    I meant to say Cathaginians not Phoenicians.

  • ANTHONY RAYNER | September 2, 2013 2:05 PM

    The problem with this is that you say that Hannibal would "most likely" not be considered black in modern society; that implies that he might be considered black. Race is an idea that throughout history has proven to be ephemeral, based on the cultural perceptions at the time; what is black in one society is not always considered black in another. The tradition of Hannibal Barca being of black African descent reaches back several decades amongst many groups in the United States, back to a time when the definition of being a negro was defined quite broadly to include those who often had several generations between themselves and thier closest pure African ancester. Whether Hannibal was truely of black ancestry can not necessarily be determined by looking at any representations of him produced within his lifetime and certainly not centuries after his death. Only a DNA analysis can answer this question without doubt. However taking in consideration that he was from the African continent and it was qutie coommon place at the time for different races to comingle, it is not only likely but probable that not only was he of African ancestry but the entire Phoenician people as well.

  • LL2 | August 27, 2013 11:18 PM

    @BLK

    I certainly have no desire to minimize the contributions of African people because I'm very proud of my African Heritage. In fact, I think the problem is that not many people take the time to actually learn about African culture and therefore feel the need to expropriate non-black historical figures. Why not focus on great black African cultures like the Nubians, the Aksum Kingdom of Ethiopia, or the great Mali Empire (recently discovered I had roots in Mali) among many, many others? Such amazing wonderful African cultures. It is widely accepted in mainstream history circles that the people of Cartharge, where Hannibal lived, where not indigenous to Africa. Even if they were indigenous, considering that Cartharge was located in North Africa, it is still unlikely he would be black. The people indigenous to that part of Africa are Berbers and Berbers are not black.

  • Mike | August 27, 2013 9:03 PM

    We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. With respect. It's true that I'm not authority on African history.

    I would like to say though that I find the idea of a white conspiracy existing in ancient times to deprive black Africans of their place in history to be without evidence, and without motive. It's true that in more recent centuries the white establishment has suppressed or downright lied to create a falsely white supremacist vision of history, but I see no reason to think this is the case for ancient historians, who had an idea of race that was very different from ours now, or from the racists of the Modern Era of history. White racism against blacks in the way that it exists today was simply not around at that time. Racism and white supremacist beliefs in the forms that we know them are largely a development of the past 500 years, used to to justify a racially-based slave trade, as opposed to deriving from pre-existing feelings or thoughts. Existing ancient sources (Greek or Roman) are full of references to people of other races that are not told with prejudice or condescension. Many notable Romans (including emperors) were of mixed ethnic backgrounds, and those backgrounds are supported, and very rarely remarked upon with disdain, in ancient sources.

    And DNA testing seems to confirm that the people of the Fertile Crescent have more genetic background with the ancient Phoenicians than with any other people.

    My main issue with Afrocentrists, Eurocentrists, or any other kind of ideologically-based scholarship is that they tend to -- in my honest opinion -- approach their research with a goal already in mind, and thus, what they find tends to confirm what they are looking for. I am sympathetic with their aims, but I find that their approach usually muddles the scientific accuracy of their conclusions. However, I would be amiss if I did not acknowledge that Black academics like Diop have done great work in debunking certain previously accepted racial myths concerning, for instance, the people of Egypt -- I'm thinking specifically of the Dynastic Race myth, as odious and abominable a notion as ever accepted by (some) historians. So, I think Afrocentrism has a purpose, but that is a limited one, and one subject to a good deal of flaws.

    I'd also like to point out that Frank Snowden was African-American, and that his studies of African Blacks in the Ancient World were seminal. He also played a crucial role in disproving various out-of-date racial notions. I don't wish to create the impression that there are only two sides to this debate -- white European historians and black historians, who hold completely opposing views.

    Thank you for your time.

  • BLK | August 27, 2013 8:17 PM

    Cheik Anta Diop, John Henrik Clarke, and many other African descended scholars say otherwise.. European scholars have a long history of falsifying history to suit their needs, and deliberately downplaying or outright LYING about the contributions of African people.

    So while you may be a historian, with respect, that certainly does not make you an authority on African history. Even "Scholars" can have their prejudices.. if all of your "sources" about the race of Hannibal are European/White people, then it certainly raises the question of bias just as much as you assume Afrocentrism to be biased.

    I'd recommend Cheik Anta Diop's "African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality" to anyone interested in a real exploration of Ancient African history.

  • LL2 | August 27, 2013 7:44 PM

    Thank you! I was thinking the same thing. The people of Carthage were not black. Not all people found in Africa are black, for example the Berbers and Tuaregs.

  • First L | August 26, 2013 3:35 PMReply

    OMG!!!!
    VIN IS STILL AT THIS?!!! SURE SIGN THE WORLD IS ENDING. They're letting a half black "I'm not Black/African" sellout with an worse voice ever to play one of our historical figures. It just goes to prove Hollywood has lost all credibility to me. They are certainly playing the real history makers for fools. But they've been doing this lately. They been taken our historical figures and white washing them to no end!! DAMN!!! THAT'S IT, I'M READY FOR THE GODDESS TO ENTER AND FLUSH ALL OF THESE RANCID MUTHERS F''ERS DOWN THE COSMIC TOILET!!!! EVERYONE OF THEM!!! Watch they won't even tell this story correct. They won't even be true to the history just showing his 'ego' might and his 'screwing abilities." I really wish the Idris Elba could be this. And let a black writer have at it. DAMN!

  • Agron | December 26, 2013 5:55 AM

    This dude actually thinks Hannibal was black lol

  • Agron | December 26, 2013 5:55 AM

    This dude actually thinks Hannibal was black lol

  • Me | August 26, 2013 2:53 PMReply

    never mind the fact that Hannibal wasn't black...........

  • truth is | September 8, 2013 9:25 PM

    wrong!!!! Hannibal was black. he didnt have blond hair or blue eyes, he had color in his skin for sure!!!! He for damn sure wasnt white!!!!!

  • ? | August 27, 2013 8:20 PM

    Nor was Jesus "white". In fact he didn't even exist, but I digress. It's a movie; having an actor of a different race than was the person they are playing is nothing new in Hollywood.

  • LL2 | August 27, 2013 7:46 PM

    Everyone seems to be overlooking that very important point.

  • Dankwa Brooks | August 26, 2013 2:11 PMReply

    Also, TONY SCOTT was a very proficient director. He definitely could have pulled this off. He really was one of my favs before he passed.

  • Dankwa Brooks | August 26, 2013 2:05 PMReply

    For real, for real just like I doubt if Barack Obama was darker who would be our President, the same for an actor for a project of this magnitude.

    More power to Vin and his enthusiasm for this project. I hope it's everything he hopes it would be.

  • S.K. | August 26, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    Yes, of course. Why get someone who's at the very least movie-Black to play a Black character. Just get someone who's at least movie-White and can pretend to be dark enough for the role. It's cool. They probably just can't find anyone in Hollywood who can fit the look of Hannibal. Because there aren't a boatload of Black actors out there. *sigh*

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