As challenging as it may be to adapt a single video game, novel or comic book to film, the task of crafting a single Warcraft movie is even more imposing: adapting what can only be the first chapter of an entire universe of stories. The answer is to begin with a (relatively) small selection of humans, dwarves, elves and orcs, telling one of the earliest tales of the fictional Azeroth. But even with the choice of zeroing in on a few of the dozens of meaningful characters, it may be a little intimidating to newcomers.
With that in mind, we’re breaking down the main players of the story (and a few fun ones with a wealth of backstory making their inclusion even more satisfying for fans of the games). If you’re looking to get a brief introduction to the characters, how they may factor into future films, and who’s below the layers of CG effects – without having the entire film spoiled for you – then read on for our Warcraft: Complete Movie Character Guide.
Played By: Toby Kebbell
As Chieftain of the Frostwolf Clan, a role that he took over from his father before him, Durotan is basically the orc hero (or, frankly, just plain hero) of the Warcraft film. While the movie picks up after the clan is inducted into the First Horde, it was Durotan’s leadership which saw his people refuse the Fel – a dark magic dispensed by the great shaman Gul’dan. Honoring the old ways and viewing this magic with suspicion, Durotan accompanies the first soldiers through the Great Portal to Azeroth, but does so with doubt.
In the larger Warcraft universe, Durotan actually stayed out of the First War between men and orc, reemerging to warn his best friend, Orgrim Doomhammer of Gul’dan’s malicious and deceitful ways. He may be just one of the key players in the film, but his legacy echoes decades through the extended universe.
Played By: Travis Fimmel
There isn’t enough time to explore the depths of Stormwind’s military, but you don’t really need to – Anduin Lothar pretty much embodies it. Although his own origins aren’t explored in the film, Anduin grew up a childhood friend of both (future king) Llane Wrynn and (future Guardian) Medivh. As the boys took separate paths into the highest authorities of Stormwind, Anduin became the military’s greatest warrior, with his stern loyalty and bravery earning him the title of “The Lion of Azeroth.”
Not much of his history is told in the movie, but aside from his son, little is known about Anduin’s personal life. The most interesting side of the character that movie fans can only get a glimpse of: Anduin Lothar is the final descendant of the Athari, the first nation and empire of humans, who eventually fractured and founded the kingdom of Stormwind.
Played By: Daniel Wu
Born into the Shadowmoon Clan, the young shaman Gul’dan proved to be particularly gifted in his master’s unique form of mysticism. Soon the term ‘shaman’ no longer described their acts, as they became warlocks, manipulated by a terrible demon in another realm. When Gul’dan learned the truth, he cared more about power than its source, and became the chosen leader of the demon, charged with uniting the many orc clans of Draenor (the orc homeworld) into a single, powerful Horde.
He did just that, relying on the Fel to empower (but ultimately enslave) the orc chieftains and their best men, until he was contacted by another sorcerer with an ambitious plan. Together, the two would open a portal between their worlds, and the Horde that Gul’dan had constructed would pass through, destroying the new world, Azeroth. The evil warlock used his cunning to gain control, even founding his own Stormreaver clan. By the time the film meets him, Gul’dan is slaying thousands to open the portal… but some among the Horde are realizing the destruction that his use of the Fel brings with it.
Played By: Ben Foster
In a world constantly threatened by demonic forces and influences, it fell to seven archmages – powerful spellcasters – to select one Guardian of Tirisfal, who would not only be trained and educated on nearly all knowledge of magic and demons, but be imbued with power from each of the archmages. Medivh, like his mother before him, was one such Guardian, charged to defend Azeroth wherever dark forces emerged. By the time the movie begins, Medivh has spent years isolated from his former friends – but its his origin in the Warcraft universe that’s the most interesting.
The story begins with his mother, Aegwynn, who managed to defeat the demonlord Sargeras – one of the demonic figures behind the massive plan to launch the Horde into Azeroth. But the defeat wasn’t quite what it seemed. Nevertheless, nobody looked too closely at Medivh once he showed the same powers as his mother – and while responsible for protecting Azeroth and the King of Stormwind, Medivh is most famous for his secrecy (his name literally means “keeper of secrets”).
Played By: Rob Kazinsky
Although most orc clans keep to their own ranks, the first time that Durotan of the Frostwolves and Orgrim of the Blackrocks met guaranteed they would be friends for life. He may play second-fiddle to Durotan in the movie, but his loyalty to his friend is just the first sign of the greatness Orgrim has coming. He, like Durotan, refused the “gifts” of the Fel; and while his fellow orc lieutenants and chieftains may have dismissed it, he singled himself out as a person of interest for Gul’dan.
Standing somewhere between Durotan’s suspicions and the greater Horde, Orgrim remains a hero in the eyes of his people (and that may be due to the massive granite Doomhammer he wields, as his father before him). He’s sure to win fans from his role in the movie, but in the larger Warcraft story, Orgrim is bound for truly great things – things that result in the great Orc capitol city being named Orgrimmar in his honor.
King Llane Wrynn
Played By: Dominic Cooper
Moviegoers don’t get to witness Llane’s rise to the throne, taking the place of his father at (according to the Warcraft canon) the age of 20. With Lady Taria at his side, it’s clear that King Llane is a man of honor, unwilling to assume that the “monsters” which have suddenly appeared in his kingdom are beasts in need of slaughter. He’s even willing to accept one member of the Orc Horde into his confidence, although it doesn’t do much to stop the hundreds already creeping their way through Azeroth towards Stormwind City.
King Llane isn’t the kind of monarch to rule from an ivory tower, of course (although he may do that, too), but a knight capable of leading, sacrificing, and holding his own on the battlefield (which audiences do get to see for themselves).
Played By: Paula Patton
Since she is only described as a “half-breed” in the film, some might mistake Garona as a half-human, half-orc hybrid. But in reality, she is born of an orc and draenei, an ancient, intelligent, magic-sensitive race. Whether she is actually the result of a plan by Gul’dan to create a hybrid, or the warlock simply realized she could be of use to him, she winds up imprisoned among his forces. But it’s no surprise that her human (and therefore hideous) appearance position her as the perfect go-between in the battle of man and orc.
But before anyone goes too deep into Garona’s history, the movie version does take some important liberties with her character. She has always appeared as a somewhat morally fluid figure, but the film makes sure to accentuate her most sympathetic sides.
Played By: Ben Schnetzer
He is introduced as a young mage who has cast off the yoke of his masters, setting out to track down a strange, growing darkness in Azeroth that Medivh is apparently too distracted to sense. In the original fiction, Khadgar is only 17 when the story begins, and actually takes a formal position as Medivh’s apprentice. He still exemplifies the same idea – young, open to new ideas and more concerned for the future than his older, more studious (and arrogant) would-be master.
It’s through Khadgar that most of the glimpses at magic in Azeroth are offered. Although they’re not explicitly named or discussed, the floating city of Dalaran (the city-state founded by magic users), the Kirin Tor (the mages who govern it) and even the Violet Citadel and Chamber of Air are all visited, no doubt to the delight of fans of the original game locations.
Played By: Anna Galvin
An orc chieftain as wise, strong, and brave as Durotan requires a mate who matches him in nearly every way – and Draka doesn’t disappoint. She shows herself to be every bit as fierce – but just – as Durotan… even if she isn’t totally honest about her pregnancy when she and Durotan pass through the portal into Azeroth. The decision kicks the story of the pair’s child off with a twist (that is not lifted from the source material), but more than anything, helps show that the humans’ assumptions about the Orc Horde ignore the fact that they value family and legacy just as strongly as they do.
Played By: Ruth Negga
Fans of the Warcraft video games may be surprised to see Lady Taria, the wife of King Llane make an appearance in the movie, since… she never existed in the original source material. The character was created, according to the filmmakers, with a conscious intention of adding female faces to the fiction’s universe. There are women fighting in the ranks of both man and orc in the film, but Lady Taria helps establish the bond shared between King Llane and Anduin Lothar – the wife of the former, and sister to the latter.
Blackhand the Destroyer
Played By: Clancy Brown
Every villain needs a goon, and in the First War with Azeroth, it’s Blackhand the Destroyer who follows the orders of Guk’dan as the Warchief of the assembled Horde. Not that he isn’t deserving of the rank: as a member of the Sythegore Arm, Blackhand was one of several orc raiders who would ride into battle atop massive wolves. The movie stops short of exploring his rise to power (his ego and ambition making it pretty easy for Gul’dan to manipulate him) and disbanding of the raiders for fear that another would rise to challenge him as not just chieftain of the Blackrock, but leader of the entire Horde.
The movie comes up with a new explanation for his name (“Blackhand” – “the Destroyer” is pretty self-explanatory), and it’s obvious from his first appearance that he’s a famed warrior among the orcs, and capable of putting down just about any enemy.
He may spend most of his time crying, or growling, but the child of Durotan and Draka isn’t cursed with the same fate as the rest of his clan (exiled by Gul’dan in the source material, as punishment for his father’s suspicion), but is bound for much greater things than the movie shows. He is given the name Go’el, but those who played the Warcraft series of games (particularly Warcraft 3) will know him better by the name ‘Thrall’ – the future leader of the Orc Horde, and great liberator of his people.
Obviously, none of that is shown while he’s still a newborn, but the movie does offer a tease of what’s to come. The good news? Thrall is his father’s son, and the famed Doomhammer swung by his best friend one day finds its way into Thrall’s hands, too.
Played By: Toby Kebbell
When Khadgar seeks the aid of the Council of Six – the leaders of Dalaran – he ends up exchanging words mainly with one of the members: Archmage Antonidas. Unfortunately, the movie fails to illuminate the best parts of Antonidas’ history – like earning the ‘Kirin Tor Sash of Supreme Acumen’ with his magical thesis, ‘The Ramifications of refined Reverse Time Travel Phenomena into Quantifiable Magical Practice’ – at age 12 – but it does give actor Toby Kebbell a chance to pull double-duty in the film.
Played By: Callum Keith Rennie
A bit of a bonus here. While it’s not necessary to know that Moroes, the servant of Medivh in his base of operations in the tower Karazhan, is actually a character from World of Warcraft, it’s a touch that no player could miss. Here he appears as a normal human being, unlike the grotesquely thin man described in the novel “The Last Guardian”. Nevertheless, Moroes the Castellan is just one of several small characters used to give one more nod to the games that started the franchise…including where his character winds up.
Those are the key players audiences might want to be aware of heading into the story (there’s enough additional lore to keep your mind working without them), barring a few mysterious/ultra-spoilery cameos that may hopefully carry real meaning down the line. For now let us know any questions you may have, or cast members that should be added!
Warcraft runs 123 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence. Now playing in regular and 3D theaters.