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How immortality works in The Old Guard, between comics and Netflix movies

Immortal, yes, but to what extent? Waiting to see Charlize Theron and Luca Marinelli grappling with the new action film signed by Netflix, here are the rules and limits of immortality in The Old Guard

Immortal, yes, but to what extent and above all, why? This is the age-old question to which the protagonists of The Old Guard, the new Netflix action film arriving on 10 July 2020, have tried to answer for centuries. The film stars and producer Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron. Struck by the reading of the comic book written by Greg Rucka and designed by Leandro Fernandez from 2017, the actress of Monster and Mad Max: Fury Road immediately started to enter the project as an actress and producer. In recent years, in fact, Theron has built a solid career also in the action genre, above all thanks to the success of blonde Atomica.

Waiting to see her fight like an authentic mercenary of the past alongside Luca Marinelli on her international debut, Netflix has released a special video that takes stock of the main node of the plot of the film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood: the immortality of the protagonists.

The old title guard is in fact the name of a group of very special warriors: none of them seem capable of dying. Even if mortally wounded, they always manage to heal and get back on their feet. The issue, however, is far more complex and fascinating than that and provides limits and gray areas for their unbeatability.

How immortality works in The Old Guard

At some point in their lives, the protagonists of the film discovered they could not literally die. Even if mortally wounded, their bodies heal and heal quickly, so much so that even with the worst injuries, members of the Old Guard never die. However, this does not mean that they do not feel pain, on the contrary: every bullet and stab causes them the same spasms that would cause a mortal, to whom they could be fatal.

Why they possess this power and what causes it is the mystery that the Old Guard has been trying to solve for years now. Their immortality is as inexplicable as it is distressing: given that they do not know the trigger and its precise biological functioning, the protagonists cannot be sure that the next blow will not prove fatal to them. They must therefore live with insecurity: there is nothing to prevent them from suddenly becoming mortal again.

Not only that: not aging outwardly since the day of the discovery of their immortality, the protagonists must pay particular attention not to leave traces of their presence behind them (photos, portraits, videos, audio) so that the world does not know of their existence. The group fears (and rightly so) that their gift could tempt many unscrupulous businessmen, determined to obtain the secret of immortality by using them as guinea pigs. Hence theirs is a life on the margins, anonymous but not without purpose. In fact, the group from behind the scenes continues to fight for the causes it deems right.

How do the immortals recognize and meet each other? Often it takes years and years of research and approach to get to know each other. However, in comics the immortals tend to dream of the faces of their fellow men continuously, even long before physically meeting, a process that facilitates mutual research.

How and when (not) the protagonists of The Old Guard died
Andy is the leader and protagonist of the film, as well as the oldest member of the group. His real name is Andromache di Scizia and he discovered that he was immortal over 6000 years ago. His experience is incomparable compared to that of every other member of the team, perhaps of every human being living on earth: he is in fact 5 or 6 times older than the other veteran characters in the group of fighters. After living so long without ever stopping fighting, Andy begins to wonder about the value of her own life, about the reasons that lead her to keep fighting and about the meaning of her millennial existence.

Booker is definitely younger. The French team member discovered that he had been immortal for just a few centuries, during his participation in the Napoleonic wars. He realized he couldn’t die when he survived the hanging he was sentenced to as a deserter. To interpret it is the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Away from the crazy crowd, A taste of rust and bones).

The youngest member of the team is Nile, who joins the team after centuries in which the Old Guard has not intercepted other immortals. Played by the African American actress Kiki Layne, Nile Freeman is a young American soldier who has only recently discovered that she cannot die. The group intercepts and welcomes it, preparing it for the brutal realization of how many sacrifices it entails to be immortal, especially in the modern era. In particular, Andy will be her teacher and mentor, developing a relationship almost like a mother or sister to her.

Nile’s role is the one that has undergone more changes than the comic. Greg Rucka, who also worked on the screenplay for the film, together with the production decided to expand the relevance of the character, making it the neophyte point of view through which the viewer discovers the reality of the Old Guard. The writer thus expanded the role of Nile to make her the co-star of the story, giving her a leading role that he had not been able to provide in the comic, in which the group’s dynamics are different.

The comic (still being published) of The Old Guard

Speaking of the comic source of the work, it must be underlined that the project is still ongoing. The first run of releases was collected in 2017 in a single volume entitled Opening Fire. It is from this narrative arc that the plot of the film begins, which is centered on a trap that is stretched to the immortals to try to steal their secrets.

In December 2019, however, a volume was published that collects the second run of the series, entitled Force Multiplied. In the intentions of Rucka and Fernandez, the story of the Old Guard was to become a trilogy, which leaves ample room for possible sequels to the Netflix movie.

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