The Assassin's Creed video game franchise has been around for almost a decade, and in that time it has built a dense collection of lore through the main titles, handheld console games, novels, comic books and other supplementary materials. The main series alone features a wealth of Assassins from all around the world and across the pages of history, including Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad (Crusades-era Israel/Syria), Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Renaissance Italy), Ratonhnhaké:ton (American Revolution), Edward Kenway (Golden Age of Piracy), Arno Dorian (French Revolution), and Jacob and Evie Frye (Victorian London).
With the arrival of the first Assassin's Creed movie, directed by Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) and starring Michael Fassbender in dual roles amid a brand new story, many fans of the games are wondering which familiar characters will be making an appearance. We already know that at least one figure from the video game canon will be present - Jeremy Irons as Alan Rikkin, leader of the Templars. However, the biggest speculation has been as to whether or not popular Assassins will cameo - the most obvious choice being Ezio, since the historical portion of the film is set during his lifetime.
Screen Rant was fortunate enough to visit the set of Assassin's Creed last year, where we met costume designer Sammy Sheldon. Sheldon was tasked with the challenge of recreating iconic looks from the games - in particular, the Assassins' robes with their pointed hoods - in a way that could be used practically while filming everything from stunts and chase scenes to intense dialogue. When asked how many sets of Assassin robes she had to create for the film, Sheldon replied:
"In the 15th century we have about… there are seven key Assassins. And then we've got another four flashback Assassins, which are a nice little thing from the game that no one knows about yet. And we've got the 20 elder Assassins. We haven’t even played those yet."
The first trailer for Assassin's Creed showed a shot of the seven Assassins that Sheldon mentions - allies of Fassbender's historical character, Aguilar de Nerha. However, easily the most interesting thing about this statement is the mention of "flashback Assassins" and the fact that they are "a nice little thing from the game that no one knows about yet." We can safely assume that one of these "Flashback Assassins" is Michael K. Williams' historical character, an 18th century voodoo poisoner Assassin called Baptiste, who is lifted from Assassin's Creed: Liberation. Based on this, it sounds like the other three Assassins could also be characters from the games - a little something for the fans to enjoy.
While moviegoers have grown so used to the concept of shared universes that Assassin's Creedliterally existing in the same continuity as the games might seem like a no-brainer, it's worth mentioning that this was not the impression that we got during the set visit. The movie seems more inspired by concepts in the games that directly tied to them, though the fact that Ubisoft (who co-financed the movie through film production branch Ubisoft Motion Pictures) were heavily involved in the creative process is a strong indicator that there will be plenty of Easter eggs and references to watch out for. Sheldon herself confirmed that the filmmakers worked closely with the video game developer, saying:
"We constantly ask Ubisoft for any reference that might help us in order to make our own versions. You look at some of those, they are very, very in-depth, and they are very correct to the period, quite often. So they are a good basis for us to learn where we need to go with our world."
Video games, like comic books, represent a somewhat niche fanbase that can't be relied upon by itself to guarantee box office success (as evidenced by the history of the video game movie genre so far). With that said, Assassin's Creed is Ubisoft's best-selling franchise of all time, with over 73 million copies of the games sold as of April 2014, which was around the time that the movie went into serious development. It would definitely help to build hype for the movie if 20th Century Fox were to tease connections to characters and stories that the core fanbase already know and love.
We'll be bringing you more insights from the set of Assassin's Creed soon, but for now check out this brand new poster for the movie, featuring Aguilar in a classic pose.