Trailer for Ridley Scott's Napoleon

Napoleon was a 30-ish whirlwind of charisma and military prowess when he became first consul of France. In keeping with the Hollywood habit of depicting historical leaders as grumpy old farts, 50-ish Joaquin Phoenix stars as this one in Ridley Scott's forthcoming biopic.

Hollywood has been eyeing a definitive Napoleon biopic for decades. Stanley Kubrick famously developed a project in 1969, but financial backers pulled out after another project titled Waterloo flopped. In 2021, Scott told Deadline, "Napoleon is a man I've always been fascinated by. He came out of nowhere to rule everything — but all the while he was waging a romantic war with his adulterous wife Josephine. He conquered the world to try to win her love, and when he couldn't, he conquered it to destroy her, and destroyed himself in the process." He added, "No actor could ever embody Napoleon like Joaquin. He created one of movie history's most complex Emperors in Gladiator, and we'll create another with his Napoleon."

My ideal entry in this genre would be a movie featuring King Canute, the Danish-born king of England and one of only two given the title "the Great", who famously tried to illustrate the limits of secular power by showing his court that the king cannot command the tides. Who better to play such a legend of tired, deadpan old-man fatalism and sarcasm than Werner Herzog? Just imagine old Werner glumly watching his horrible English sons and his psychopathic English wife knowing they're going to muck everything up after he croaks. IRL Canute was like 40.