The Resident Evil video game franchise has over twenty years of history behind it, and is currently showing no signs of slowing down. The latest entry in the series, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, launched on January 24th and is currently being championed as both a bold reinvention and a fitting return to form. Meanwhile, the games spawned a series of movies, whose sixth and final chapter hits theaters on January 27th. Shepherded by director Paul WS Anderson, the Resident Evil films are beloved for their R-rated violence, their championing of strong female butt-kickers, and for just being a fun series of B-grade action flicks.
One of the most interesting elements of the Resident Evil films is how they cherry pick characters and situations from the games as inspiration for their own stories and action sequences. Characters from the games pop up all the time in the movies, with varying degrees of fidelity to their original incarnations.
Most fans know that Milla Jovovich’s Alice, the star of the long-running cinematic franchise, is a movie-only character that doesn’t appear in the games at all. For this list, we’re going to take a look at the important figures from the Resident Evil films and see how they stack up against their counterparts in the video game space. Here’s How 15 Characters In The Resident Evil Movies Compare To The Video Games.
15. Jill Valentine
In the games, Jill Valentine is introduced as a member of STARS, an elite squad of highly-trained police officers who protect Raccoon City. She’s only 23 years old and is already an army veteran, having served as an operative in the elite Delta Force. Basically, she has the mettle to go up against a haunted mansion full of zombies and other biological experiments. Jill is one of the original protagonists of the Resident Evil series, and went on to make many return appearances, in games like RE3, RE5, and Revelations, among others.
On the cinematic side of the equation, Jill first pops up in 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the first sequel to the original 2002 actioner. Her physical appearance here is based on her appearance in Resident Evil 3, even replicating her memorable tube top/miniskirt ensemble. English actor Sienna Guillory earned strong acclaim from franchise fans for her performance as Raccoon City’s toughest cop, and she eventually returned for a brief cameo in the fourth film. This brief turn led to a full-on supporting role in Retribution, which was based on her brainwashed-and-blonde appearance in Resident Evil 5.
14. Chris Redfield
Jill was one of the two playable characters in the original Resident Evil; the other was Chris Redfield, a fellow member of the Special Tactics And Rescue Service. In the games, Chris basically fills the role of “generic action guy.” After the first Resident Evil game from 1996, he finally returned for 2000’s Code: Veronica, in which he rescues his sister. He also gets beat up by the villainous Albert Wesker, his former STARS commander who, by this time, had become something else entirely. When Chris finally returned in Resident Evil 5, he had undergone a drastic redesign away from his normal physique. To say the least, Chris had put in a little extra time at the gym. Chris in RE5 looks like he could absolutely destroy Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an arm wrestling contest. Anyway, Chris will next be seen in a co-starring role in the upcoming CGI film, Resident Evil: Vendetta.
Chris appeared in the fourth Resident Evil film, Afterlife, played by Prison Break‘s Wentworth Miller. In a none-too-subtle allusion to his career-defining role, Chris is found locked up in a maximum-security jailhouse, which he then helps Alice and her friends to escape. His role in the film is an “in-name-only” incarnation of Chris Redfield, lacking any notable connection to his video game counterpart. As a result, Chris’ reunion with his sister Claire is a little more than a ridiculously unbelievable coincidence, and thus lacks the emotional impact of the comparable sequence in Code: Veronica. Still, Wentworth Miller is a tremendously watchable actor, and he is clearly enjoying his role in the endearingly silly Resident Evil: Afterlife.
13. Claire Redfield
Chris’s younger sister, Claire, made her video game debut in Resident Evil 2, in which she starred alongside Leon S Kennedy (more on him later). She rode into Raccoon City on her motorcycle in search of her brother, but found only zombie carnage. Fortunately, like her brother, Claire is a survivor, and she managed to escape Raccoon City alongside Leon and young Sherry Birkin. Claire next appeared in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica, where she attacked an Umbrella facility in Paris in an effort to fight Umbrella and find her brother. Claire finally reunited with Leon Kennedy in the CGI movie, 2008’s Resident Evil: Degeneration. Her most recent appearance is in Resident Evil: Revelations 2, in which she stars alongside Barry Burton, a former STARS member and veteran of the first game.
The legend goes that Claire’s role in Resident Evil: Extinction was originally written for Jill Valentine, but when Sienna Guillory was unable to reprise her role, the part was rewritten for Ali Larter to play another kickass female from the games. The Mad Max-inspired tone of that third RE film isn’t exactly in line with the games upon which it is based, but it was fun to see Claire appear in some capacity, even if she scarcely resembled her video game incarnation. Still, the next film, Afterlife, changed Claire’s hair from Larter’s natural blonde to the video game’s original red, bringing her more in step with her classic design.
12. Barry Burton
One of Resident Evil’s most beloved characters is Barry Burton. Why is he so beloved? Maybe it’s the alliteration in his name. Maybe it’s his fondness for oversized magnums. Maybe it’s his terrible-yet-charming delivery of lines like “You were almost a Jill sandwich.” In any case, Barry is memetic like few other video game characters before or since. After his turn in the original game, Barry returned sparingly, first for a cameo in the ending of Resident Evil 3, and then in a non-canon appearance in the Mercenaries minigame of Resident Evil 5. It wasn’t until Resident Evil: Revelations 2 that Barry finally returned to the series in a key role.
In Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth and most boring of the Resident Evil films, Barry made his long-awaited debut, where he was played by Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Strain). In the film, Barry is part of a team which is sent to an underground facility to rescue Alice. In the end, he sacrifices himself to save his team. However, this being Barry, the coolest guy on the planet, he somehow, through sheer force of will, gets up from being shot numerous times to take down one of his killers before being shot again, this time with finality. He’s definitely one of the best parts of the otherwise underwhelming Retribution.
11. Albert Wesker
Albert Wesker was the grand arc villain of the entire Resident Evil saga until his final defeat in Resident Evil 5. First introduced in the original game, Wesker was the leader of STARS, but was secretly an agent of Umbrella. Despite seemingly being killed by the end of that game, Wesker returned in Code: Veronica, armed with God-like superpowers. In Resident Evil 5, it was revealed that Albert was part of the “Wesker Project,” which aimed to produce an unstoppable race of supermen. Fortunately for the human race, Chris Redfield and his friends put an end to Wesker and his plans for “Complete. Global. Saturation.”
Wesker was first brought into the movies via a small role in Resident Evil: Extinction, where he was played by Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). For his appearance in the next film, Afterlife, the role was recast; O’Mara was out, and Shawn Roberts was in. Roberts’s resume isn’t as impressive as O’Mara’s, but he’s absolutely perfect in the role. He nails the look and the voice, as well as Wesker’s insufferably snooty sense of superiority, his signature trait.
10. Leon Kennedy
After Claire’s first encounter with a zombie in Resident Evil 2, she is quickly rescued by young Leon S. Kennedy, who becomes her partner during their brief-but-exciting stay in scenic Raccoon City. A rookie police officer, he reports for duty only to find the entire city in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. After surviving the Raccoon City incident, Leon was only fleetingly mentioned in Code: Veronica, but returned with aplomb in the genre-defining Resident Evil 4. By this point in the timeline, the character had become a full-blown government super agent tasked with rescuing the US President’s daughter from a new type of biological threat.
As one of Resident Evil’s most popular protagonists, hopes were high that Leon would have an important role in the film series. Those hopes were dashed when he finally showed up in Retribution as little more than a generic member of Barry Burton’s team. While actor Johann Urb nailed the look (and dreamy hairstyle) of Leon, the movie’s version of the iconic character ultimately proved to be little more than empty fan service.
9. Ada Wong
In Resident Evil 2, Ada Wong appears as a mysterious agent whose true motivations are unclear. Despite her steely exterior, she quickly develops a soft spot for Leon. (It’s gotta be the hair.) In Resident Evil 4, she returns, working for Wesker, who had been her boss all along. Or perhaps she had been playing him just much as he thought she was his loyal agent… Regardless, she returned yet again for RE6, as well as the film Resident Evil: Damnation.
In the games, Ada and Leon are a complimentary pair, each enhancing the other’s character, keeping each other, and the player, on their toes. In the movie, Retribution, Ada appears as — you guessed it — a generic member of Barry’s squad. She and Leon share some flirty dialogue, but none of the mystery or suspense of their video game interactions. She is played by the talented Li Bingbing, though her voice is dubbed over by Sally Cahill, who played Ada in Resident Evil 2 and 4. Ada in the film may be but a thin facsimile of her video game incarnation, but it’s undeniably awesome that Cahill was able to use her voice to bring the character to life in the movie.
8. Carlos Olivera
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis sees Jill Valentine meeting up with a squad of Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) operatives who are tasked with rescuing survivors and saving the day. Unfortunately for them, the team is overwhelmed by the zombie threat and are quickly forced into a brutal fight for their own survival. Although Carlos Olivera, a fan-favorite member of Delta Platoon, survives the events of that game, the character has yet to return for an encore appearance.
Fortunately for fans of the character, the movies picked up the slack and made him a key player in the events of Apocalypse and Extinction. In the former, Carlos (played by Oded Fehr) is an elite badass, and the de facto leader of his UBCS team. Rather than developing a fondness for Jill as in the games, this version of Carlos has chemistry with Alice, which extends to the next film. In Extinction, Carlos sacrifices himself to allow Alice entry into heavily-guarded Umbrella facility; he drives a truck filled with highly combustible gasoline into a veritable legion of zombies and then proceeds to blow it up, killing himself in the process.
7. Nikolai Zinoviev
The movie version of the UBCS is led by Carlos Olivera, but Resident Evil 3: Nemesis makes it clear that Nikolai is the squad leader. In that game, Nikolai secretly has another job within Umbrella, acting as a spy and collecting combat data from its numerous biological experiments. He’s a duplicitous traitor and a source of a great deal of drama in the fast-paced story of RE3. In the end, Jill does have the option of killing him, but he canonically survives, as stated in Resident Evil 5‘s comprehensive text archive. Nikolai’s popularity led to appearances in Resident Evil: Outbreak and Operation Raccoon City. Additionally, a report written by him appears in the long-forgotten rail shooter, Resident Evil Survivor, though Nicholai has yet to make a full-blown return as a major character in a mainline RE title.
In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the character’s name was changed to the more grammatically-correct Nicholai Ginovaef, and he was played by Zack Ward (the bully from A Christmas Story). In stark contrast to his portrayal in RE3, this version of Nicholai is younger, hipper, and more affable. Unfortunately, despite Ward’s awesome accent and righteous one-liners, Nicholai only appears for a few scenes before being unceremoniously killed by zombie dogs.
6. William Birkin
In Resident Evil 2, William Birkin was one of Umbrella’s most brilliant scientists, and THE inventor of the G-Virus. However, he was betrayed by Umbrella, who sent assassins (led by series darkhorse Agent HUNK) to kill him and steal his work. Unfortunately for them, the ensuing shootout caused the T-Virus to leak, creating the Raccoon City outbreak. A dying Birkin then injects himself with his own G-Virus and becomes a hideous monster who must eventually be taken down by Claire and Leon.
The 2002 movie notably features an opening narration from actor Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Harry Potter), who then makes a brief cameo at the end, though his face is hidden, hinting towards the presence of the iconic monster Nemesis in the sequel. While Nemesis turned up in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, it was noticeable that Jason Isaacs and the character of William Birkin did not. For whatever reason, Isaacs could not appear in the sequel, so rather than recast the role, actor Iain Glen was hired to play a new character named after the original actor, Dr. Sam Isaacs. The door was left open for Jason Isaacs to return as William Birkin in future entries, but he never did. Unless, of course, there’s an unexpected surprise waiting at the end of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
5. The Tyrant
Speaking of Iain Glen as Dr. Isaacs, the third film features that character’s death, but not before he transforms into a hideously tentacled creature, the twisted and evil Tyrant. Despite racking up an impressive body count in a relatively short amount of screen time, Resident Evil: Extinction’s version of the Tyrant pales in comparison to its pixelated progenitor, and is ultimately defeated in a rather anticlimactic use of the old “laser hallway” trick.
The first Resident Evil introduced the Tyrant near the end; it killed Wesker (or did it?) and served as the final boss of that game, being killed only with a direct hit from a rocket launcher. Resident Evil 2 introduced a new and improved Tyrant, and Code: Veronica featured the deadliest and most resilient Tyrants yet seen in the series. Tyrants, to put it mildly, are walking death, capable of tearing through nearly anything not armed with the absolute heaviest of high-powered explosive ordinance.
4. The Licker
First introduced in Resident Evil 2, The Licker quickly became one of RE’s most popular creepy critters. These skinless abominations have exposed brains and only vaguely resemble the humans they once were. They walk around on all fours and can scale walls and ceilings like a spider. Despite their distinct appearance, their most noteworthy feature has to be their namesake, their long tongues. In the games, their tongue is sharp like a spear, and they can stab targets, or even swing their tongue like a sword, decapitating their victims. A new variant of the Licker appeared as recently as Resident Evil 5, a testament to the creature’s enduring popularity — as well as its capacity to incite fear in players!
Lickers are recurring monsters in the Resident Evil films. The first film featured a single Licker as its final monster. It’s a bit bigger than the video game version, and takes a lot more punishment before being killed. The first sequel showcases Alice’s newfound strength by having her dispatch multiple Lickers with noticeably little effort. Finally, Resident Evil: Retribution features an abnormally (even inexplicably) large Licker as its large-scale boss monster. One key difference between the games and the movies is that the film version of the monster lacks the ability to cut and slice with its tongue. Rather, these Lickers use their tongues to grab their prey like a lasso before closing the distance and swiping at them with their sharp claws.
While some liberties were taken with the appearance and behavior of the Licker in the first Resident Evil film, the sequel was much more true to the games with the appearance of its big monster, Nemesis. In the games, this gargantuan Goliath made his sole canon appearance as the title character of Resident Evil: Nemesis. Sent in by Umbrella to eliminate the few STARS members who survived the Mansion Incident, Nemesis is a Tyrant, modified by a parasite which allows it to retain some intelligence and sense of combat strategy. Nemesis is a persistent threat who can pop up without warning and challenges Jill throughout the entirety of the game.
In the movie, Nemesis is hinted at as the final fate of Matt (Eric Mabius), who is ordered by Dr. Birkin to be taken as a candidate for “The Nemesis Project.” In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Nemesis appears in his full hideous glory, and he is the pure spitting image of his video game counterpart. Armed with a rocket launcher and a minigun, Nemesis tears through Raccoon City’s STARS team to prove his combat prowess, and not necessarily to eliminate survivors. Owing either to budgetary limitations or creative license, this iteration of Nemesis isn’t prone to excessive mutation like his video game incarnation. While Nemesis in the game goes through numerous ghastly transformations, the film version retains his humanoid shape throughout the entire film. He is also a more tragic figure, having once been Alice’s friend in the first movie, and he fights against his programming to ultimately come to her aid in his final moments.
Another element where the movies mostly match the games is in their depiction of zombies, the most common foe in any Resident Evil installment. In both the games and the movies, zombies adhere to the Romero Rules of being slow shamblers who overwhelm with numbers and persistence, rather than any kind of tactical acumen. They can be killed with a heavy barrage of gunfire, but headshots work best.
Resident Evil 4 introduced a new type of zombie, Los Ganados, people who had been infected with a parasite and turned into a decidedly different type of Bio Organic Weapon. These creatures operate with something akin to a loose hive mind, retain a degree of intelligence, and can attack their targets with weapons ranging from melee swords and spears to complex firearms like assault rifles and rocket launchers. Resident Evil: Retribution introduced the Las Plagas creatures to the film series, allowing their zombies to behave more like the creatures from the more modern RE games.
1. The Laser Hallway
One of the most iconic moments in the 2002 Resident Evil movie arrives when many of Umbrella’s elite agents are wiped out by a sinister laser hallway. First, it decapitates the team’s medic, then it bisects an unlucky agent at the waist, and then it finally forms an inescapable grate, dicing poor Colin Salmon (Arrow, Punisher: Warzone) into dozens of chunky bits. Regardless of opinions on the rest of the movie, the laser hallway sequence left a huge impression with everyone who saw the film.
This extends to the developers of the games, as well. In 2005’s Resident Evil 4, Leon, at one point, finds himself dodging similar lasers in a similar hallway, in that game’s most overt nod to the films. However, the rail shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, took things a step further. The final scenario in that game is basically a love letter to the first movie, complete with an appearance from The Red Queen and a laser hallway which is a direct copy of the one from the film. Fortunately, Jill and Chris are able to escape without being dismembered…provided that the player can complete a tough Quick Time Event.
Who’s your favorite Resident Evil character? Do you enjoy the Paul WS Anderson RE movies? Or were you tricked into watching them, thinking they were created by the OTHER Paul Anderson? Sound off in the comments!
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