The slate was clear for the minds behind the Assassin’s Creed movie, being given fee rein (unlike most video game adaptations) to tell a new story in the world of Abstergo, and not adapt an existing game or character. What came as a result was the tale of Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), the (unknowing) son of an Assassin family recruited by the evil Templars after his execution. But the Templars’ plan failed: Cal mastered his memories, escaped their prison, and killed their leader. And he didn’t do it alone.
As it turns out, that last part wasn’t always set in stone. As Callum spent his life fleeing from friendships and entanglements in his life after seeing his mother killed by his father, his found family at the end of the movie was just one of a few options. Now that the alternate ending of Assassin’s Creed has been revealed, fans can judge if the studio was right in making its changes.
The new insight to this alternate ending of the movie comes courtesy of Collider, focused mainly on the final fight scene set within the Abstergo facility. Instead of leading to their escape, that prisoner revolt led to the death of not just one or two of Cal’s fellow Assassins, but every single one of them. Presumably, that would have left Cal as the lone survivor to infiltrate the meeting of Templars that followed, and assassinate Dr. Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) all by himself.
But when that ending was shown to test audiences, their objections actually made a lot of sense, according to editor Christopher Tellefsen:
“We used this in the preview screening and people were not satisfied with him being alone. They definitely wished for him to have a tribe, to be initiated into something.”
It’s not hard to imagine why the ending was removed, and instead a conclusion in which Cal’s fellow Assassins proved more than capable of taking down multiple Abstergo guards and soldiers one by one (some still fell, but were either sacrificed or swarmed). It drives home the empowerment that had been building through Cal’s story to that point, with him and his new allies showing they had merely been waiting for their moment to strike, and revealing what monsters Abstergo had created. It turns out giving prisoners the muscle memory and motivations of your greatest enemies isn’t a great idea, after all.
There’s also something to be said for the changing idea of what it means to be powerful in video games specifically, and popular entertainment more broadly. In the Assassin’s Creed series alone, the idea of a lone warrior, a solo Assassin was where the story began – and the obvious thrill of taking on an army singlehandedly was the game’s selling point in both story and gameplay. But it was the introduction of fellow Assassins – unseen recruits and soldiers who could support the player’s character when needed – that made the heroes of the series feel truly powerful, and part of something bigger.
Lifting that same idea into the conclusion of Assassin’s Creed was just one of several things director Justin Kurzel finally got right with this video game adaptation, so it’s a relief to see how deflating, or disappointing that ending could have been. The filmmakers made the right call, in the end. The door was also left open for future sequels to follow three lead characters, as opposed to just one. The film’s box office take of just under $240 million sidelined the idea of Ubisoft building a blockbuster powerhouse franchise, but who knows what the future may hold.
Assassin’s Creed arrives on DVD and Blu-ray March 21, 2017, with a digital release on March 10.