Previewing Outlaw King (2018)


Netflix is gearing up to release Outlaw King (2018) in late-fall of this year, and so I am taking the time right now to mentally prepare myself for the momentous occasion that notably not-Scottish actor Chris Pine attempts a Scottish accent. Right away, it’s hard not to draw some parallels to Braveheart, despite the fact that I’m sure the last thing anyone associated with this film wants is to be compared to its ambiguously historically accurate Mel Gibson vanity project predecessor.

The first comparison that is unavoidable is that both films put Americans (or in Gibson’s case, Australian-American) in the starring role of a Scottish national hero. Pine is cast as Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King, which makes me kind of squinty, because hasn’t Outlander taught us that there’s actually a crapton of handsome Scottish actors out there? I’m just asking. Because it seems like there’s a lot of them to chose from. Who knows, maybe Outlander absconded with all the viable Scottish actors, and Netflix was forced to cast the main character with an American. It could also have something to do with producer/writer David Mackenzie being pals with Pine. At any rate, I raise my eyebrow at the casting choice here, because while I enjoy Chris Pine, I’m skeptical about casting him as Robert the Bruce. Not as skeptical about him as I was about Mel Gibson as William Wallace, so there is that.

Braveheart 1995

“Please don’t fuck me up this time, guys.” — Robert the Bruce, probably.

The second unavoidable comparison with Braveheart, is that Outlaw King deals with the part of Scottish history that is, admittedly, only hinted at in Braveheart — namely the actual situation that lead William Wallace to fight for Scottish independence (you may be shocked to learn it wasn’t just because some English baddy murdered his wife). However, this time it’s told through the eyes of Robert the Bruce. If your only knowledge of Robert the Bruce comes from Braveheart, you probably only know him as the guy covered in furs that occasionally shows up to suck up to Wallace and/or the English depending on the situation. You would be surprised to learn that he’s actually the King of Scots, and something of a badass himself. But not so as far as Braveheart is concerned. He’s the morally ambiguous foil to William Wallace’s psychotically nationalistic woad-painted one-man murder machine. It doesn’t appear that Outlaw King is taking that approach to Robert the Bruce, since the film ostensibly casts him as the hero, and therefore we should expect a far more valorized depiction of The Bruce.

And that’s as far as I can take it without having seen even so much as a trailer of the film, at least as far as commenting on the casting and plot goes. So, let’s look at some of the shots of the actors doing their thing, and see how the costumes hold up. Right away, I’m getting the feeling that this is not going to be a pretty costume flick. It’s probably going to be more of the gritty-covered-in-dirt costume flick, which means there’s nothing to distract me from the historical accuracy of the plot (you are all forewarned). That said, I’m cautiously optimistic about the approach the costume team is taking (seriously, IMDB names at least two-dozen people associated with the costumes in this flick).

2018 Outlaw King

The wool tunic and hood are great. The leather strapping on the gloves strikes me as a Hollywoodized conceit, but at least he’s not covered head-to-toe in it.

Outlaw King (2018)

Maille is definitely appropriate for this era, particularly on campaign or when you’re an outlaw king trying to avoid being killed by English Baddies. That hairstyle is verging dangerously close to a historical mullet, though.

Overall, I give major props to the costume designer/director team for not sticking the Scots in kilts. Repeat after me, kilts are not historically accurate for 14th-century Scotland. You may feel free to quibble with me as to whether or not they were accurate for 14th-century Scottish highlanders in the comments, but as The Bruce was a lowlander noble, his clothing would have been very much in keeping with the rest of Western European fashion of the time. And I see that that’s the stance that the film is apparently taking here, which bolsters my hopes that we will get to see a better representation of what early-14th-century Scots wore.

2018 Outlaw King

Not a kilt in sight! And everyone appears to be in wool trews. So far so good … But the real proof is in whether or not our hero, played by Chris Pine, is wearing Contractually Obligated Leather Pants.

Outlaw King (2018)

His trews could be wool or suede, hard to say from this shot, but I’m leaning towards wool. And his boots even look plausibly late-13th/early-14th-century!

2018 Outlaw King

YAS. I love a long length cote on a man. Excellent color, too.

As for the female costumes, who the hell knows? So far, there have been very few shots of the women in the cast, which is not exactly surprising since I have the distinct feeling they’re basically window dressing to the main story, which is ALL ABOUT THE MENZ. Seriously, this is the only shot I’ve been able to find of an actress in costume, associated with this film.

2018 Outlaw King

An extra in her natural habitat. Notice the mobile device in her right hand and the paper coffee cup on the ground beside her. Also note the potted plant.

I’ll be back with more as soon as Netflix releases a trailer or more photos of the actors surface! Until then, cross your fingers that this will end up paying better lip service to Scottish history than its Mel Gibson-y predecessor.


Will you be watching Outlaw King?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

17 Responses

  1. karena333

    Looks a universe better than Braveheart as long as Pine’s accent isn’t too distracting. And hoping the man on the horse in the crowd shot loses the hot water bottle before filming.

  2. Elizabeth Mahon

    I’ll watch it. I thought Pine did a decent English accent in Princess Diaries 2 and I’m sure it’ll be better than Liam Neeson’s non-accent in Rob Roy. And since I’ll pretty much Pine in anything except for that Lindsay Lohan rom-com, I’ll definitely be watching this.

    • LadySlippers

      Pine’s accents haven’t been at all. His other rom-com with Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy should be avoided too. My favourite role of his has been the campy Prince in Into the Woods.

  3. Anon1

    That’s not an extra – it’s Florence Pugh who plays Elizabeth de Burgh

  4. Susan Pola Staples

    Robert I of Scotland (Aka Robert the Bruce) is somewhat of a hero of mine. Descended from both William the Conqueror and David I of Scotland, he was a huge landowner in both countries. So he owed fielty to Edward I got his English lands and the Scottish throne for his Scottish.
    I’m sort-of optimistic as I also didn’t see a leader pants in any photos. But there are
    tons of Scottish actors, so I’ll have a wait and see attitude. Also I’ll probably SNARK the history.

  5. Kaye Dacus

    Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, David Tennant, Gerard Butler, Richard Madden, Kevin McKidd, Henry Ian Cusick, Rory McCann, Douglas Henshall, Tony Curran, Dougray Scott . . .

    Just to name a few off the top of my head who would have been a better casting choice than Chris Pine.

    • OcarinaSapph1r3 -24

      Tony Curran is actually in the movie- as a MacDonald (my family descends from MacDonalds at two points on my mother’s side) – as for accents, ‘Kickass’/ ‘Quicksilver’, there did a pretty good job – though I’m disappointed Bruce’s sisters didn’t feature, but Elizabeth seems to have taken on some of their history, I think (with the cage-thing).
      I couldn’t actually tell if my fellow Antipodean, Callen Mulvey had an accent or not- it didn’t feel like he was there long enough.

  6. Al Don

    Sure it’s better than Braveheart; then again that’s a laughably low bar. I disagree it’s a good portrayal. We know what Robert de Brus’ armor looked like – maille and surcoat, with a highly distinct helmet befitting a king. I.e. nothing like this. (Bonus: the historically correct helmet would even show the actor’s face!) The maille is a bad fit and cut for the period. Double bracers – which are for archers! – wrong, wrong, wrong. His leggings, wool or not, are clearly not leggings of the period. Looks like he’s also missing his trademark one-handed axe.

    His boots don’t look good. Looks more mid-14th century and a Hollywood pastiche at that. I can’t tell if there are heels. I wouldn’t say it’s wrong outright but either way they could have made a more appropriate choice.

    The armour for Edward Longshanks makes the same mistake as Braveheart: too advanced pauldrons. I don’t know where to start on the other knight in the picture. Curiously missing from both movies: ailettes.

    All the pictures suggest the movie seems to be of the bizarre opinion that great helms weren’t a thing at the time. Huh.

    We have good resources on armour at the time. Both tomb effigies and the seals on the wonderful Barons’ Letter of 1301.

    The Scot soldiers likewise are modern Hollywood. Sure no kilts (yay!) but they’re missing the distinguishing look of Scot soldiers at the time: saffron-coloured aketons adorned with the white “X”. Look at those pictures: not a single white X in sight. What the hell? Correct armour wouldn’t have been more expensive than what is shown. Also: too many without head protection. Braveheart-style mistake.

    So while they did away with the utter fantasy of Braveheart, they replaced it with modern clichés. Lazy, lazy job.

    • Nzie

      I love that you can spot all this from these pics. Rock on.

  7. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    Based on the pictures provided, I’m seeing the “Burlap Syndrome”. I can recognize that the boots Chris Pine is wearing are from Armstreet armory in the Viking Collection. I can also see arming caps and biggin’s being worn in the crowd scene. Also noticed the historically inaccurate leather ring belt. That staple of the Ren Faire world.
    I will give it a chance just to see how bad it can get.

  8. Saraquill

    I’ll be disappointed if there’s no spider scene.

  9. Cheryl Washer

    Fingers crossed that this isn’t a total cluster as I have been a fan of the Bruce since reading Nigel Tranter’s books in high school. Points to the production for having smallish horses — better for Bannockburn.

    • dayday8421

      Agreed. I am Scottish and the accent, from what I can infer from the trailer is on point!

  10. A C B

    Can’t wait to read what you thought about the movie! I enjoyed it and was curious as to the accuracy of the costumes the whole time—esp. Edward’s snakelike armor at the end!