How do you follow up a story where everybody dies at the end? You pull back the canvass and look at the bigger picture. That’s the premise behind Xerxes, Frank Miller’s sequel to 300. He spoke with the LA Times about this week and debuted a first image (albeit of a character we’ve already seen); the scope of this tale is fairly fascinating.

“The story will be the same heft as ‘300’ but it cover a much, much greater span of time — it’s 10 years, not three days,” Miller said. “This is a more complex story. The story is so much larger. The Spartans in ‘300’ were being enclosed by the page as the world got smaller. This story has truly vast subjects. The Athenian naval fleet, for instance, is a massive artistic undertaking and it dwarfed by the Persian fleet, which is also shown in this story. The story has elements of espionage, too, and it’s a sweeping tale with gods and warriors.” 

There was a brouhaha back when the 300 movie came out, with Iran fairly shitting its pants about the depiction of Persian king Xerxes. I don’t think Miller’s views on the ruler have changed any – he was completely broken by 9/11 and I think he views Persia as a stand-in for Al Qaeda – but it does sound like Xerxes could give us a more rounded king. “I do my best to crawl inside his head rather than have him be this iconic force that simply commands this huge army. There are many scenes with him alone or just with his people. There’s an extended scene set in Persepolis, for instance, where he takes power and there are several scenes where he is going through his transitions and he’s shown speaking to his mother and his wife and with all of that he becomes that much more interesting as a character.”

There’s more at the LA Times, including the revelation of who the hero will be this time (it’s a Greek again).

As for a movie version? “If the book is awesome and compelling,” Zack Snyder says, “then, yes, we’re interested.”