Video game-inspired films have been struggling for decades to evolve past the cinematic shortcomings of Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Wing Commander, the Hitman films, Assassin’s Creed and anything directed by Uwe Boll. The filmmakers and fans alike are desperate for the genre to attain some credibility, which has eluded them thus far.
Sony has tapped Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts to develop a feature film adaption of the acclaimed game Metal Gear Solid, which has been in the works since 2006. Jay Basu (Monsters: Dark Continent) was brought on to write the script in 2015. Vogt-Roberts, who fought hard to get the job, is not oblivious to adapting what he calls “one of the most tricky and idiosyncratic properties on the planet,” as well as “one of the easiest properties for Hollywood to mess up.” He was adamant that they weren’t going to try and shoehorn their film into being “like Mission: Impossible” or “like G.I. Joe,” citing an appreciation for creator Hideo Kojima‘s original vision:
“To me Metal Gear Solid is not just a great video game. Like I said I think it’s a great story. I think it’s a great story and a work of art. And a great like singular voice on this planet in terms of media. So my goal right now is to sort of work and make sure that we’re having the best version of that. So that fans and everyone can sort of experience the brilliance of [Metal Gear creator Hideo] Kojima’s work.”
Naturally, one of the questions that keeps popping up is, will the film include the fan-favorite Cyborg Ninja character? Throughout the game, we are treated to several haunting and graphically violent cutscenes involving the character, and he’s since gone on to become one of the standouts of the entire franchise.
“When we were sitting down to think about the script at a certain point it was like, ‘Is Cyborg Ninja in this movie or not?’ And the part of me that was a little kid was like, ‘There’s no world in which I’m ever going to make a Metal Gear movie that Cyborg Ninja is not going to be in.’ It’s really easy to be like, ‘It’s a good character to save for the second one,’ but no, no, no”
Another of the more memorable aspects from the game was the character Psycho Mantis breaking the fourth wall by “reading” the player’s saved game files and referencing certain games he found there. Considered one of those video game elements that may not work if attempted in live action, Vogt-Roberts had this to say when asked if he would attempt to include it in his film:
“I actually do think that considering breaking the fourth wall is an important part of potentially what that movie would be. Finding a way to do that in an interesting way. I think things like Deadpool have actually shown that you can play with that conceit these days.To me, the fourth wall breaking is a little less important than the walking philosophies and ideologies those characters represent, and getting that right and the tone right and things like that. If breaking the fourth wall makes sense, I’m all for it, [but] I’m more interested in the ‘Kojima conversations’ about whatever song came out then or whatever – it’s that stuff that it just absolutely needs.”
Vogt-Roberts seems to have all of his ducks in a row regarding his approach to this adaptation, citing the strong script they’re crafting and passionate producers as the key to doing it right. And while we’ve heard many directors make similar claims over the years, the paradigm is shifting and the newest crop of directors are those who grew up playing these same games; giving them the proper perspective on adapting them than their predecessors. Here’s hoping Sony and Vogt-Roberts can pull this off successfully.