It’s no secret video game adaptations have struggled, both in terms of critical reception and box office numbers. Despite the success of the video game industry and a multi-billion dollar global market, the adaptations have failed to find traction thus far. Studios try again year after year, but the projects continue to disappoint.
Aiming to buck the trend is 2016’s Assassin’s Creed, an adaptation of Ubisoft’s best-selling video game franchise of the same name. The project is being developed by Ubisoft’s own film division – and, though the development cycle has been hit with multiple delays since it was announced in 2011, filming finally began in Malta in September 2015.
The main conceit of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is that people can relive the memories of their ancestors, allowing them to freely explore historical settings. This gives each of the games two separate but related storylines; one set in the past and the other in the present. The film version stars Michael Fassbender as both Callum Lynch and his ancestor Aguilar de Agarorobo, who lived during the Spanish Inquisition.
According to Deadline, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson have both joined the cast of Assassin‘s Creed, opposite Fassbender and his costar Marion Cotillard. Irons is set to portray the father of Cotillard’s currently unnamed character while Gleeson will be playing the father of one (or both) of Fassbender’s characters.
The scope of talent currently signed on to the film is enough to warrant optimism about the Assassin’s Creed’s success. The cast currently boasts two Oscar-winners (Cotillard and Irons) as well as Emmy-winner Gleeson. Additionally, stars Fassbender and Cotillard worked together previously with the film’s director Justin Kurzel on Macbeth, a movie that has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews ahead of its December 2015 bow in theaters.
Introducing both of the father’s of Assassin’s Creed‘s main characters could make for some interesting drama, particularly if the two leads are involved romantically. The franchise centers on an age-old conflict between the Assassins and the Templars; the Assassins are ultimately painted as the good guys, but the nature of their fight gives both sides shades of grey.
Imagine Fassbender’s Assassin Aguilar is in love with the daughter of a high-ranking Templar. In the style of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the two would have to navigate a landscape in which they are meant to be enemies. It would work to add a level of depth to the film’s overarching conflict, humanizing both sides rather than keeping the film strictly black and white. There’s precedent for this exact situation, specifically in the game Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The film shouldn’t reenact this plot step by step, but it could easily draw inspiration from that game.
Of course, this is all speculation, as there are few details currently available about the Assassin’s Creed film’s plot and characters. Cotillard, Irons and Gleeson’s characters all remain unnamed, making it difficult to know if they’re in the past, present, or both. However, while the nature of Gleeson’s role is yet to be announced, it is most likely he will be playing a character in the modern day. Fassbender’s modern day character Callum Lynch is likely of Irish descent given his first name, so it would make the most sense to have Irish-born Gleeson playing the father of Callum rather than Aguilar.
Assassin’s Creed arrives in U.S. theaters on December 21st, 2016.
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