Don’t Worry, The ‘Mass Effect’ Movie Is Still Based on The Game

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Mass Effect Movie News Dont Worry, The Mass Effect Movie Is Still Based on The Game

It’s an exciting time for movie buffs who also happen to be gamers. Yes, the vast majority of video game adaptations have not been great, but the tide is about to turn and what we know as a film genre full of disappointments will soon become the home to a plethora of blockbuster franchises based on high profile, story-driven video games that developers are aiming to protect.

Standing alongside highly anticipated in-development movies based on the likes of Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted and others is of course, Mass Effect. The story, characters and cinimatic style of the Mass Effect games themselves had us sold, but then came the Legendary Pictures panel at this summer’s Comic-Con which promised great things.

I stood in a line for hours to make sure I could be a part of the first ever Legendary Pictures panel presentation at a Comic-Con and while it focused on four high concept films that were only in very early production (so, no footage) it was still exciting. It was here where screenwriter Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Jurassic Park IV) and Mass Effect game producer Casey Hudson took to the stage.

Protosevich and Hudson didn’t have nitty gritty details on the Mass Effect movie to share so instead, they talked about the collaborative process and how Legendary Pictures is the right home for such a project. They emphasized how closely they were working with game developer BioWare to ensure that Mass Effect gets the big screen treatment it deserves.

The Mass Effect video game series sees its third installment release in March, promising the biggest and most extensive adventure yet to conclude the series and the story arc of protagonist Commander Shepard. Considering each game’s main story runs for dozens of hours, it’s no easy task to adapt, so this raises the question of what story the film will tell.

Protosevich explained that the movie he’s writing would absolutely be “following and honoring story” and that Mass Effect would follow the story of the first game. This was the perfect answer – That’s what fans would love to see.

You can imagine then, the concern and confusion we experienced in September when discovering that the official Legendary Pictures website had posted an August-dated Q&A that contradicted everything we were told in person. The site explained that these were the questions that they didn’t have time to address on stage at Comic-Con in late July. This is what it read (then):

Q: Will it just be an adaptation of the first game, second game, or a completely new story?
A: It will be a completely new story

Q: How are you going to address the element of ‘choice’ that the players have in the game?
A: A movie narrative is different than gameplay. There won’t be a choice aspect to this film, just a normal film narrative.

Q: Will it be a trilogy?
A: We are really focused on making this a great movie, so we’ll see where it takes us. We have to get the first one right to know whether there will be more.

Q: Will Seth Green portray Joker (that character he voiced in the game?)
A: No.

Q: Will the movie be focused on Sheppard?
A: Yes.

Q: If the movie is focused on Sheppard, will it be the male Sheppard or the female Sheppard?
A: Male.

Q: Can you give any hints to potential casting?
A: No. Stay tuned.

Q: Will BioWare allow plot / character changes?
A: Yes, we are working closely with BioWare on the development of this project.

Q: Would you consider Daft Punk to do the soundtrack?
A: We love Daft Punk, but it’s too early to say who will produce the soundtrack.

Legendary’s site was now stating – only weeks later – that the movie would not be based on the games and that Seth Green seemingly wouldn’t even be considered to take on the role of Joker, the fan-favorite character he voices in the games. I wrote about this for our sister site, Game Rant, and was confused that they had directly told us the opposite information at their panel. It was also odd that here, on their site, they spelled the protagonist’s name incorrectly at every instance.

That was the last we heard on the project until a few weeks ago when I was given the heads up that the Q&A Legendary posted – still dated as August – had been drastically altered. Let’s take a look:

Q: Will it just be an adaptation of the first game, second game, or a completely new story?
A: It will focus on Commander Shepard’s journey, centering around the story of the original Mass Effect game.

Q: How are you going to address the element of ‘choice’ that the players have in the game?
A: The writer is weaving a path through Shepard’s decisions that best supports the narrative of the movie and the motivations of its characters.

Q: Will it be a trilogy?
A: We are really focused on making this a great movie, so we’ll see where it takes us. We have to get the first one right to know whether there will be more.

Q: Will Seth Green portray Joker, the character he voiced in the game?
A: No casting decisions have been made yet.

Q: Will the movie be focused on Shepard?
A: Yes.

Q: If the movie is focused on Shepard, will it be the male Shepard or the female Shepard?
A: Male.

Q: Can you give any hints to potential casting?
A: No. Stay tuned.

Q: Will BioWare allow plot / character changes?
A: Yes, we are working closely with BioWare on the development of this project.

Q: Would you consider Daft Punk to do the soundtrack?
A: We love Daft Punk, but it’s too early to say who will produce the soundtrack.

Not only is the character’s name right, but the story has changed! Again, the Mass Effect film will tell the story of the first game and won’t be something entirely different under the brand (see: Uncharted movie fail). Also note that Seth Green isn’t written off yet – the “no” was replaced with a more diplomatic answer.

I spoke with Legendary to confirm whether or not there were changes happening with the direction of the film and what was happening with the site. They confirmed that it was simple human error that put up the incorrect answers in the first place and that the film was on track, holding true to what was said at the panel and what the site now says.

This is good news, because the films do not need to (and shouldn’t) make up a new story. The games tell a superior and more emotional story with better characters than most films we’ve seen in recent years and we couldn’t be more excited about potential for a film franchise based on them. It won’t be too long before the casting rumors begin rolling in…

For fans of the games, Mass Effect 3 releases March 6, 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Find out more at Game Rant!


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  1. Hoping for the best, fearing the worst.

    I’m glad they are at least considering Seth now, why shouldn’t he get the part?

    I’m wondering how closely it will follow the game, i mean they have the options already there for them. Let Ashley or Kaiden die, kill wrex (doubt they would), Save the council or not etc… My best gues is they’ll try and be on the Paragon side of things with a few Renegade moments to spice it up. The non-humans of the crew will be a make or break, I hope they go old school makeup with at least Garrus, instead of CGI.

    I can’t wait to see the casting news, it needs a strong Shepard but an equally strong ensemble around him. Without any chemistry between this cast the movie fails.. so hopefully we get some great actors in these parts and committed to a franchise that could be amazing.

  2. Any news lately on the Dead Space movie?

    I’m not even going to bother asking about the status of a Halo movie though. Roaming that board on IMDb for years and STILL no news…*sigh* :(

    • Nothing on either. At the moment, all the studios are just hanging on to drafts and playing the waiting game.

      Once of of these big budget films opens to critical/financial success, boom, Halo, Gears, Uncharted, Ghost Recon, Dead Space, inFamous, etc. etc. will all start moving

      • The only thing I heard about the dead space movie is that the actor that played isaac (Who isaac was also modled after) REALLY wants to do the movie.

        • That’s not weird, lol. I’m sure every model wants to play the famous character based on their likeness.

          I bet Mark Vanderloo wants to play Commander Shepard. It’s not going to happen in either case, for better or worse.

          • The Dead space actor is far more likely to play Isaac. He is not just the modle after all but the voice actor too. I mean why go out of the way to find some one else when you have the Isaac Clarke right there in front of you. In both looks and voice.

            • The Hitman games use the voice and likeness of David Bateson as well. There was zero chance of him being in the Hitman film.

              Voice talent and 3D models do not equate to bankable stars of $150 million tentpole films, lol. I’m sorry. It doesn’t work like that.

              That being said, Gunner Wright actually has film acting experience under his belt but I still don’t think the studio would go for that.

              • I don’t see why not.

  3. The main challenge in the movie is giving Shepard a consistent character, respecting the outcomes of the game while making Shepard heroic and worthy. As for Joker, they better cast Seth Green, and I personally think that Keith David could play Captain Anderson too.

  4. Seth Green AND Brandon Keener needs to reprise there roles. There voices in the games are WAY WAY WAY to recognizable to have any one else play them!

  5. Why the “male” answer if no casting decisions have been made? They should really consider a female. I mean, look at Fringe’s Anna Torv – would she (or another actress like her) not make an amazing Shepard?

    • I guess we’ll have to wait and see on this, but either way we know there will be relationships between Shepard and the crew :)

    • Video games are mostly a guy audience. And also the novelty of casting women in traditional male roles has been wearing thin for some time now. Plus you already have 3 strong female characters in the group already.

      Considered altogether it makes sense for Shepard to be male for the movies success.

    • Consider a female? Bhaha! Who gave you command of the ship?
      Look ‘Gina’, If we’ve took orders from women all our lives, do you think human civilization would be as advanced as it is now? Think about what I just said, and relate it back to the reason why we should NOT put a female as leading role.

      They’re not going to destroy a human tradition just to support some Feminist agenda. Seriously, that would destroy the movie.

      Stick with the chick-flicks and love/sex scenes.

      • If Nick Fury can be a black man, who says Shepherd can’t be female?

        And since video games have more guy audience, casting a female lead would make sure these guys flock to the nearest theatre, provided the female is sexy, charismatic AND can act.

        If a female lead is cast, Kaidan should stay alive.

        Lastly, if we take orders from women, World War 1 and 2 most probably will not happen!

        • Firstly, the makers of the film are not trying to grab “sex appeal”.
          Anyone who knows anything about action/scifi/adventure films that goes for the “sex appeal”, tends to fall flat in the performance department and the box office(expect of that dumbazz Twilight). I’m looking for seriousness, not another cheesy Transformers film, with cheesy Hollywood “slap-on” takes.

          If this movie is done CORRECTLY, it could rival that of the Star Wars movies.

          PS: And without War, human civilization would have never advanced. Thanks for proving my point.

        • Nick Fury was a black man years before the movies with Samuel L. Jackson were made, and Jackson plays Fury in those movies because he found out that the comic book character had been modeled after him and negotiated a deal with Marvel to play Fury if they made movies.

          It’s not that Shepard can’t be female, but there was a standard male Shepard for four years before there was a standard female Shepard. It makes logical sense to cast a male lead. And yes, video games have a larger male audience, but this also means that more gamers likely role-played as male Shepard (at least for the first playthrough).

          “if we take orders from women, World War 1 and 2 most probably will not happen!” – There are so many things wrong with this sentence. The grammar is awful and it’s in the wrong tense. And how the f*ck do you support this opinion?

    • The thing is that the majority of people play as the male shepherd and there is a reason why females are not allowed in direct combat even to this day. Having been around females in the military the majority can not take the strain of combat combined with the physical ability needed to get the job done.

  6. I’m glad they switched “Will Seth Green potray Joker?” from “No” to “No decisions have been made yet.” He needs to be in it, just makes sense.

    I really, really hope they push forward with this and follow the universe well.

  7. Did someone miss the memo with the thing where the Shephard is the different for everyone who’s ever played the Mass Effects?

    Sorry I just watched Danny on Youtube and now i’m typing like he talks :/

  8. “How are you going to address the element of ‘choice’ that the players have in the game?”

    That’s the most stupidest question I’ve ever heard.

  9. I am really looking forward to this film. I love the games. Exceptional story.This could be an epic film. Seth Green has to play joker and Keith David as Captain Anderson. I vote Michael Fassbender for Shepherd. He would be perfect.. and Hayley Atwell for Ashely Williams

    • hell yeah! Haley Atwell for Williams, Keith David for Anderson and Seth for Joker! No exceptions! How about Sam Worthington for Shepard?

    • I agree completely. Fassbender would make a fantastic Shepard.

  10. “Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Jurassic Park IV)”

    There is the glaring problem with this project. The Screen writer is someone who took a successful book and series and turned them into lack luster adaptations. He also did Poseidon and The Cell, neither of which were really any good, so now they have given someone with a bad track record the ability to translate a well written and highly successful game storyline and they expect it to be good?

    I for one am not holding my breath.

    • look at shamalan or wtf his name….

      The Sixth Sense…EPIC MOVIE and remains one of the top to date
      And then look all he’s others movies….one failure after another

      Things can change from good to bad and bad to good..this guy might do well with THIS movie

  11. If it follows Shepard’s story, I can tell already that I’m gonna pay and see only crap.

    They should create a brand-new story, in the same universe! A story that can be told awesomely with a movie.

    • I agree that a different story would work better rather than following the first game. If a seperate story could be used like in the novels and comics, then a larger amount of people will be able to slot the movie into their game experience. I already know that I will be disappointed by the movie because my Shepard in the mass effect games is a female. Even though I would love to see a female character as the lead in the mass effect movie, because most fans have a male Shepard, and also because it seems that some of these fans are sexist pricks, the movie would be more successful if there was a male Shepard.

      • Exactly. Why don’t they make a movie about something like the First Contact War or a different event? It doesn’t even need to be major. They’ve got this whole universe to work with. They would get more people to see it, also; so much can be told about something like the First Contact War, and it can also be referenced in future games, or even used as a tie-in. (Sort of like how the comic books and the novels add to the story, instead of retell it). They are going to really mess this up. Since it’s based off of the first game, and the game is about choice, it’s going to be just as boring and annoying as watching someone else play the game.

        • I agree with the first contact war idea. It could cover a lot of back story that those who know the games can understand, but still be entertaining enough for those who don’t. It could also lead up to potential sequels. If they want it about Shepard, then the worst thing they could do is make it about the Reaper story line. Maybe choose one of the personality/back story traits at random and use that as the plot (ex. Sole survivor/War Hero)?

          • Great idea! In fact, when I first looked it up on IMDB, the teaser summery said that the movie would be about the first contact war, and I thought; Cool, this way they don’t have to wrestle with the variations in the Shepard storyline and would be just a perfect si-fi film for people whom had never even heard of ME. But now it sounds like their just going to alienate newcomers with an overly complex premise that can’t be fully explained in one movie and make at least half of their fans mad. But if they play their cards right, they could make a truly awesome movie that could displace Star Wars and Star Trek, or at least contend with them.

  12. If there is a male role cast I think Shepard should be played by Mark Meer(the voice of C

  13. My bad my computer wigged out on me. I meant that if there is a male Shepard that he should be played by Mark Meer(the voice of Commander Shepard).

  14. I am surprised at at the generally sexist comments on here. Oh wait, that’s a lie. way to perpetuated the gamer stereotype! So proud of you all. My opinion is that a fem shep would be better solely based on the possible character relationships looking at the series as a whole. I mean the possible Garrus relationship in two is a much better testament to the companionship a person would have towards a crew mate after experiencing such things than just a Commander who sleeps with the new girl in tight clothes. (The possible relationship with Tali isn’t even worth mentioning….annoying!)Regardless, I have absolutely no hope that this movie with be worth watching.

    • I f*cking loved Tali…it makes me sad that you don’t =’(

  15. I am no Sexist but it naturally should be a male Sheppard for the movie purely because in all of the Mass Effect games it is portrayed as a male character

    About the story though – I don’t really want it to be based on the first game to be honest because of the games dynamic storyline – but there is nothing stopping them basing the story on the events leading up to mass effect one, as i think this would make the movie more worthwhile as people who played the game have already seen and done the story in ME1 and most if not all of the alternative narrative. So by making the story based on Akuze or a different event that is mentioned in the game would make it better viewing.

    Maybe they should have researched via a survey on what starter story the players chose and used that as a basis for the story.

    I will be going to see this film nevertheless as an avid fan of the game I would go to see it just on that premise

    Finally the game is not only about relationships between crew if you want that then watch a romantic comedy or something.

    But i wish them the best with the production and just to let them know i will be going to see the film whatever the outcome of the plot

  16. Ok Star Wars,Epic,Lord of the rings,Epic,look to them for advice or team up somehow all those people need to be involved forget egos,cause lets face it no matter your preference on films or directors etc,no one,NO ONE! has ever done anything better or even close.And as I have all confidence that it may be a,well no every game film I have ever watched sucked at least for people who love quality motion pictures instead of anime no offence but blockbusters require a different tone and yes a wider audience.And for someone who has been waiting for something as sweet as the halo trilogy or even better the guys that made lotr to do the elder scrolls(epic,please)and someone who is a major treky and star wars and stargate(the series)fan I think these films(yes plural)have the opportunity to be the big epic movie series for our generation at least I hope they are considering more than one if not than they already think it will fail and there is no point.Can be great,epic,lots of money, great film(s)to be remembered throughout the ages(Star Wars) or another well not worth the time to watch even on a 6in I phone.

    • I think the contact wars should be made as a prequal game first so gamers can get a feel for it then make a film on it why make a film that is not based on the game its self after all isn’t that why we all want to see it coz we love the game so much and sorry but fem shep no he is mainly a male character this would just be a mistake that would distroy the file were going to watch it for the story not to perv and in the 2nd game there is a doc that allows you the make all the rite choice so there must be a clear right and wrong path so I think they should follow that which would deal with the choice problem

  17. Daft Punk? Oh god, was the person who asked that question serious?

  18. i’m not trying to be sexist, but economically speaking, having a male shepard might wipe out a part of the population (femshep fans) that would have seen the movie if it were different. It’s true guys like gun games, I can’t deny that, but whoever the hell mentioned to go back to our(girls) chick flicks needs to grow up a bit. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to play Mass Effect games? I’d rather shoot a sexist than get anywhere near a chick flick =.= As for the story line…finding the prothean ruins on mars would have been a better, safer story than risking this!

    • seems like a lot of people here are sexist unfortunately. it is true that Male Shepard is kind of the icon for mass effect,but having a Female Shepard could be a welcome change,maybe have some people change thier minds about women in general. and to adress your opinion on the prothean ruins backstory for mars,either that or the first contact war,krogan rebellions,rachni invasion…all those could work as well. in any case,they better not screw this movie up or a heck of a lot of people will be furious

    • You headbutt krogans ffs (bet that’ll be in the movie if they get to ME2 even though the main char will probably be a paragon). A movie is made after the canon, in which Shepard is a male. Look, I’m not a sexist and I love women but war has been and will be a man’s thing. Women shouldn’t be dying on battlefields IMHO, that’s just messed up. You already have strong women like Williams and sensitive men like Kaiden on the squad, making Shepard a female basically puts a bunch of strong women and a few sentimental men in the movie, which is overkill (all the way to ME2, Zaeed and Hacket aside). It would be a great idea if it was a romantic comedy but I recon that it’ll be a sci-fi with some action and humor, subsequently the canon Shepard makes more sense. I repeat – I am not sexist and I respect women but it doesn’t make very much sense in the circumstances.

  19. I could see Laurence Fishburne as Captain Anderson.

    • Keith David sounds like Anderson, but Laurence Fishburn looks like Anderson.
      Tough call.
      I had always thought of Matthew Fox playing Shepard, but now that someone mentioned Micheal Fassbender, I like him better for the role.

      Also about the whole Male/Female Shepard thing, whats to say they can’t have a Male and a Female Shepard on set, and shoot most of the scenes twice. That way you can have two movies on your dvd.

  20. Laurence Fishburne is a perfect Captain Anderson, I have no idea who would be Udina though…..Errol Sitahal?

    I think Michelle Rodriguez or Anne Hathaway could possibly be good for Ashley Williams, maybe.

    and FU Bret, Talia is both sweet and dedicated, she may not be as sexy as Miranda but she is endearing, Miranda is so arrogant it’s almost not worth it.

  21. I have no real hope this movie will be very good–”Hollywood” doesn’t really have a very strong record of turning video games into good movies. And for all those who actually played and preferred FemShep in Mass Effect (and there are many, but maybe not here) it’s a big let down that the movie concept of it would stick to being so “safe” even though they have the chance to be more bold. Personally, I think men would go to see it regardless. As long as they don’t actually change who FemShep “is” (a badass in every which way).

    One thing that sets Mass Effect apart from other “Save the world!” or “Shoot them in the face!” games is it’s character driven and immersive storyline. If they turn this movie into yet another mindless action/blow-up stuff movie then I will count myself out. I love Mass Effect, but I don’t want to see another Vin Diesel-like actor set in space–not that those kind of movies are not entertaining sometimes, but I’d rather not taint the impression I have of one of my favorite games.

    But to humor the hope that it could, one day, be a good movie, my top votes for the lead roles:

    Male Shepard: Someone who can be charismatic, likeable and tough…maybe Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Armie Hammer or even Jensen Ackles as some possible choices…who knows.

    Female Shepard: (In a less sexist world) Jennifer Morrison could pull it off, Gina Carano has the toughness factor, Kristen Bell (because I like her deliveries), Sophia Myles (just because), or Rhona Mitra.

    Kaidan: Jay Hernandez (I think he’s got the chops, plus he is very easy on the eyes).

    Ashley: I like the idea of Michelle Rodriquez…but also Sarah Gadon, Janet Montgomery, Freida Pinto, or Olivia Wilde.

    The rest I don’t see any problem with casting whomever they are either voiced by or modeled after as long as they can actually act and especially Seth Green and Keith David who have very distinctive voices and mannerisms.

    • Morena Baccarin (she looks a lot like Ashley to me) is also another possible choice for Ashley. It all really depends on what age the plot is going for.

  22. This has got to be the worst decision ever. The story of Mass Effect (in the games) is brilliant. It revolves around the idea that Shepard is EITHER paragon or renegade, male or female, in love with Ashley or Liara or Kaiden or Miranda, etc., and about a thousand other decisions. Having a hollywood movie portray one of these outcomes is not THE Mass Effect story, it is A Mass Effect story. Even if you decide to make a perfectly paragon male Shepard story, you will still not capture the essence of Shepard. I have played through Mass Effect 1 and 2 eight times, and I have made slightly different decisions each time, and each playthrough of 1 and 2 took between 10-30 hours. The idea that they think they can make a movie is absurd. Whenever you have the best of a medium, it generally doesn’t translate into a good version in another medium. Movie adaptations of books are generally awful, book adaptations of movies are usually just as bad. Movie adaptations of video games are NEVER good (as much as I love the original Mortal Kombat movie). They would be better served writing another story in the Mass Effect universe. The Mass Effect books are decent, a movie that tackled another, yet related, storyline would be much more successful. By basing this on Shepard, it is a quick way to bank on the popularity of the games to make a buck.

  23. I think the story should follow according the books. Except for Deception,cause it well has false information.

  24. does anyone think Sam Worthington looks similar to the origonal commander sheperd anyone think he would do well playing the part ?

  25. I will only accept Mathew fox as Commander Shepard and Seth Green as Joker how ever I could go with Dominic Monaghan as Joker since seeing Both of them in lost, they work pretty well together and to be quiet honest they kinda remind me of them both.

  26. Curious how they will pry the domain from the person who has it, smart thinking on that person’s part to secure years ago.

  27. As big of a fan as I am of the whole mass effect universe, I am not at all looking forward to this. Who knows maybe I will be completely shocked and totally love it. But I think there’s a better chance of us finding prothean ruins on mars. Honestly, they should almost pretend the games don’t exist. This should be a prequel that examines humanity finding the ruins, creating the alliance, and the first encounter with the turians. Start off at the beginning, do it well, and bring in new fans as well as making current ones happy. The games are not a good place to start as there is too much to cover and too many important story elements that are left bto personal choice. You can always cover the games later after you’ve established a good starting point….but hey, that’s just the opinion of a loyal fan

  28. Why!?! why would they make the movie the same story as the game?? They have so much room to grow and so many choices of plot line!! First contact war with the turians would have been great!

    • It’s a film about based on the game not much point making it if shep ant in it is there I mean really you all need to put this to bed it should be a game of the contact wars 1st and maybe after this film a prequel of contact wars

  29. I was wishing for a movie about the First Contact War. Lots more room for the film makers to move around in, and wouldn’t have to worry about the whole male/female paragon/renagade problem