In a little under a month, Assassin’s Creed, Fox’s adaptation of the video game of the same name, hits theaters. The film, which stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, boasts a stellar supporting cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, and Michael K. Williams. Assassin’s Creed will face stiff competition at the box office as it opens the same week as the Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence vehicle, Passengers, as well as Illumination’s animated movie Sing. The video game adaptation will also be going up against an undoubtedly strong second weekend from the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Video game adaptations have traditionally been disappointments at the box office, with only two such films ever crossing $100 million at the domestically (those being Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Angry Birds Movie). Fox is certainly hoping that Assassin’s Creed bucks the trend after shelling out a production budget reported to be over $130 million and assembling all the previously noted stars. While the competition for viewers will be tough this holiday, Assassin’s Creed does boast an interesting plot that mixes elements of futuristic science fiction with historical action (sort of like Westworld at first glance). Furthermore, the film’s characters may be more complex than those in the competition.
Michael Fassbander recently spoke with Empire, where he describe his character’s morality as not so black and white. “It’s not like Star Wars, where you’ve got the light side and the dark side,” Fassbender explains, before adding:
“This is very ambiguous morally. Both of these parties – the Templars and the Assassins – are hypocritical at certain points. There are not clear-cut good and bad characters. I think it’s a little more provocative for an audience to see that. You know, ‘Should I be feeling that? Should I be backing this character?’ That’s always fun.”
While there are probably not that many people that were expecting Assassin’s Creed to be anything like Star Wars, the morally ambiguous characters could make for exciting drama within the action adventure film. And Fassbender is not wrong, viewers tend to get behind characters that are not squeaky clean – Dexter Morgan and Walter White are two from television. As for playing something of an anti-hero, Fassbender has some experience in that realm. The actor may be best known for his turn as Charles Xavier’s on-again, off-again friend, Magneto, in the X-Men prequel trilogy.
The video game series on which Assassin’s Creed is based, is one of the highest selling gaming franchises, ever. Of course, as previously noted, this fact alone has never translated to massive success at the box office. Other high selling franchises like Speed Racer, Tomb Raider, and Prince of Persia all had trouble translating their success to the big screen. Still, with the ever growing international box office and, perhaps, more layered characters, Assassin’s Creed could defy history.