Xena: Warrior Princess is coming back with a vengeance, in both TV and comic form. The two creators in charge of those respective projects, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Genevieve Valentine, recently had a conversation with iO9. In it they discussed a myriad of aspects of both the show and the upcoming book.
While the book will actually take place during a time seen on the show (just further explored), Javier's TV reboot will re-examine parts of the mythos, characters, and world of Xena, and change things up to fit a overarching storyline. When Genevieve asked him about what he was looking forward to playing around with (since this is a new canon), here is what he said.
I’m really looking forward to remixing the canon a little bit. One big thing is that we are telling a much more serialized story than the show ever tackled—so formally we are already treading some very different ground—and while the characters will occupy roughly the same thematic spaces they did in the original, some of their backstories will be changed, and some of their morality will be tweaked so that we can tell a long-arcing story in which every episode leads directly into the next. It’s a delicate balancing act: You want to please the fans of the old and attract a new audience, who maybe only know the name of the show, with a story that will draw them in, regardless of their frame of reference—and one of the things I really insisted on in my pitch was telling an epic story that would be bingeable—but still feature several of the legacy characters in a way that makes sense to the totality of the story. So in answer to your question, that’s the one thing I REALLY wanted to mess with.
While fans are excited for more Xena related material, it is bound to illicit some reactions from some when you start tinkering with character backstories. He had something to say on that as well.
Still, it’s interesting because the communications I get from the fans make it sound like we are going to throw everything out and make it into the Jem and the Holograms version of Xena. People have been asking me if it’s going to be set in the modern day (if that were the case, I wouldn’t have signed on or come near the thing) and whether or not Xena is going to have a Chakram (to which I always reply “Of course she’s gonna have a Chakram, what am I, a monster?”). As you mentioned, a great deal of the appeal of the show lies in certain pulpy elements—like Gabrielle’s bare midriff, Xena’s leather miniskirt, Callisto’s amazing and gravity-defying... well, you get it—and it’s hard for me in the post-Brienne of Tarth era to reconcile with the idea that Xena and her friends can meet every challenge in such skimpy outfits. I think we are going to have some very lengthy discussions about how to bring those elements into the present day without missing the boat on what makes Xena exactly what she is; and how to have our cake and eat it too. There are a few things that are sacrosanct: the Chakram and the quarterstaff, of course, Gabrielle’s ambition to become a bard, and—most importantly—that Xena and Gabrielle be soul mates. Like I said, I’m not monster.
The most important part here to me is that the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle will retain its essence (at least that is his goal). You can change up all sorts of things, but to me by the end that was what the show was about, how the two of them progressed as characters, more than what epic thing was going on in the background.
Javier also touched on the actors behind the characters, and fans expectations to have the original cast involved in the new series.
The obvious answer is that Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor are not going to be Xena and Gabrielle. That already has a lot of people in an uproar. The question of reboot vs. revival is a very relevant now that The X-Files has been revived with the original cast, and so has Star Wars… and because the die hard fans want to see their beloved actors in the role. And look, I love these actors in these roles as much as I love Shatner as Kirk, Connery as Bond, and Lynda Carter as Diana Prince—so why does this need to be a reboot and not a continuation? The answer for me is that the reboot is not a repudiation of the classic show, but rather a compliment to it. I want for Xena to be a cultural icon for longer than my tenure in the entertainment industry, or that of anyone else involved with the project. If, in some far future, people assume that Xena is a character from the greek mythological pantheon alongside Hercules, and that’s why so many people have played her over so many years? That right there would be success.
When doing a reboot, it is important to maintain that so hard to nail down "feel" of a show, without retreading all the same character beats verbatim. Hopefully they can get that right. If they do everything else will fall into place. While Lawless and O'Connor can't necessarily reprise their roles, hopefully there is room for a cameo or two.