Nearly thirty years after its original publication, Orson Scott Card’s seminal science fiction novel Ender’s Game – which the author once described as “unfilmable” – is finally making its way onto the big screen, with Asa Butterfield in the lead role and Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as writer and director.
The film is set mainly on an orbiting space station that houses a specialized and highly elite military academy called Battle School, where the greatest young military minds – selected from all over the world – are trained to command armies in space-based combat, specifically against an invading army of aliens that once nearly ripped Earth’s defenses apart.
It’s time to get a lot closer with the individual actors of the film in five new character posters, released over at Movienewz.com, which show both the students and staff members of Battle School.
First up is the titular character himself: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a third-born child conceived outside of a strict two-child-maximum policy by special permission from the government, after his elder siblings produce promising results in tests.
Ender is groomed from a very early age to be the next great military leader, and to command the International Fleet to a second victory against their intergalactic foes. The character faces a great deal of internal struggle due to incongruity between his distaste for harming people and his natural inclinations towards beating his enemies by any means necessary.
Colonel Hyrum Graff is a sort of mentor and father figure to Ender, though admittedly a rather irresponsible one when it comes to looking out for his charge’s safety. He works alongside Major Anderson to decide the best way to shape Ender’s personality and abilities for the future that lies ahead of him, whilst at the same time helping to select and coach the next generation of soldiers that are trained in Battle School.
This grizzled mentor is played by Harrison Ford, just one of the great casting choices for Ender’s Game.
Young actress Hailee Steinfeld first came to a great deal of public attention after her leading performance in the Coen brothers’ True Grit, in which she played a farm girl who hires a U.S. marshal to track down her father’s killer. She’s back for another tough female role in Ender’s Game as Petra Arkanian, one of the very few girls to be enrolled in Battle School, who proves herself enough to become the commander of her own army whilst in training.
Arkanian is reluctant to associate with Ender when he first arrives at the school, since she doesn’t want the stigma of hanging out with a “launchie” on top of the troubles she already faces because of her gender – but she nonetheless becomes one of Ender’s most trusted allies.
Sporting a rather intimidating facial tattoo in this next poster is Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast) as Mazer Rackham. Rackham is a war hero from the first war with the invading aliens, known as the Formics, and emerged victorious after apparently commanding Earth’s forces to a devastating victory that wiped out every last soldier in the Formic army.
To say more about him would give away too much of the plot, so for now just enjoy the sight of Kingsley’s big inky face.
The second of the staff posters shows Viola Davis as Major Gwen Anderson. This character has undergone a gender-swap from the book, but one look at this poster will probably make people want to think twice before complaining about it to her face. Davis has been nominated for an Oscar twice – first for The Doubt in 2009 and later for role in The Help in 2012.
Like many of the adult characters, Major Anderson is somewhat morally dubious, pushing the children of Battle School to often cruel lengths in order to ensure that they – Ender especially – perform to the best of their abilities.
There are plenty of significant characters from the story who don’t have their own character posters (not yet, at least), probably because the actors playing them aren’t quite as high-profile as Asa Butterfield or Harrison Ford. Fans of the book series are no doubt eager to get a closer look at Aramis Knight, who plays Ender’s second-in-command and the subject of the sidequel “Ender’s Shadow”, Bean.
The story has multiple characters who could be considered antagonists, including the overarching threat of the Formics, but Ender’s main adversary whilst at Battle School is an older student called Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias). Ender’s siblings also play an important role on Earth as esteemed bloggers Demosthenes and Locke, and he has a number of other companions who, like Petra, accompany him throughout his school career.
Which other characters from the book would you like to see on their own personal poster?
Ender’s Game opens in U.S. theaters on November 1st, 2013.