The video game movie “curse” is well documented at this point, going back to the critical/commercial disappointment of Super Mario Bros. back in 1993 – and more recently, the similar under-performance of Hitman: Agent 47, a movie that even represented the second attempt to successfully translate the Hitman video game series to the big screen. It’s for this reason that there’s as much trepidation as there is excitement among video game/movie fans towards Warcraft: the movie based on the gaming property of the same name (specifically, the first installment, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans),as is being released by Legendary and Universal Pictures in June.
Warcraft/World of Warcraft gaming series developer/publisher Blizzard Entertainment has played a fairly active role in the creative process on the Warcraft film adaptation, in order to better ensure that the final film result is something that the company is comfortable with having associated with its lucrative Warcraft brand in the first place. In turn, character designs and the overall visual aesthetic for the Warcraft movie are largely faithful to the original videos games, as has been illustrated by the film’s trailer footage released to date – as well as additional marketing material, like the recently-unveiled character posters.
Warcraft, like most active franchises, is a multi-platform IP that includes comic books, with the World of Warcraft comic book series having been published by WildStorm and released from 2007-09. That will continue with the upcoming Warcraft movie tie-in comic book prequel Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood, a 112-page hardcover graphic novel that will be released on June 7th (three days before the Warcraft film opens in U.S. theaters). The comic was written by Chris Metzen, the Senior Vice President for Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard Entertainment. Here’s the synopsis for Bonds of Brotherhood:
Discover how three of Azeroth’s greatest champions forged their first alliance, in the official graphic prequel to the Warcaft movie from Legendary, Universal Pictures and Blizzard Entertainment. In a fantasy action epic set decades before the film, the young and headstrong Llane, Lothar, and Medivh embark on a mission of vengeance that will forge them into heroes… the kind of heroes Azeroth will need in its darkest hour.
Metzen has also done voice work for the Warcraft video game franchise, including the character of Thrall from Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and Vol’jin from Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, as well a a number of additional characters in the World of Warcraft game. Warcraft: Bond of Brothers‘ artwork was provided by Mat Broome, Michael O’Hare, Eddie Nunez, Roy Allan Martinez, Ale Garza, and Mike Bowden, while Kevin Tong developed the cover artwork, featured below.
Next, we have the official Warcraft movie character posters. The humans shown here belong to The Alliance and include Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter) as King Llane Wrynn, the leader of the city Stormwind; Ruth Negga (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Lady Taria, the Queen of Stormwind and Llane’s “most trusted counsel”; Ben Foster (Lone Survivor) as Medivh a.k.a. ‘The Guardian’, a reclusive and mysterious protector; and Ben Schnetzer (The Book Thief) as Khadgar, a gifted young mage.
Meanwhile, over on Team Orc a.k.a. The Horde, we have Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands) as Gul’Dan, the supreme orc ruler and powerful dark magic user; Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim) as Orgrim Doomhammer, a warrior who wield the legendary Doomhammer; and Clancy Brown (voice of multiple characters on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV series) as Blackhand, a fearsome orc warchief who’s also known as “The Destroyer”. Lastly, we have Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) as Garona, a half-orc warrior who must decide whether her loyalty lies with The Alliance or The Horde… or both.
Warcraft was co-written and directed by Duncan Jones, the filmmaker behind the well-received cult sci-fi movies Moon and Source Code. The Blizzard Entertainment video game adaptation will thus serve as Jones’ first-time swimming in the pool of big-budget tentpole fare, so it remains to be how he handles this challenge – not to mention, whether or not Warcraft can achieve cross-over appeal and attract the mainstream movie-going audience unfamiliar with the Warcraft game property lore, either because or in spite of the critical reception. Warcraft will open at the U.S. box office opposite horror sequel The Conjuring 2 and magician heist followup Now You See Me 2, so Jones’ video game adaptation won’t exactly be hurting for competition during its opening weekend, either.
Warcraft: Bond of Brothers will be published on June 7th, 2016. Warcraft opens in U.S. theaters three days later, on June 10th.
Source: Legendary, Universal Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment