There are few video game franchises which proved as formative and influential in the last few decades as Metal Gear Solid. The Japanese action game helped define the modern stealth genre, and has grown into one of the most unique and dense mythologies in the realm of triple-A gaming. Understandably, a movie adaptation of the series has been 'planned' by Sony Pictures for years with little to no progress, but it seems that the project may finally be moving forward, as reports claim a specific director now being courted.
That alone will be welcome news to fans, but the rumors are far more intriguing than video game-to-movie adaptations tend to be. According to Deadline, the director in early talks isn't an established expert in the realm of covert ops or action films, but indie writer/director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
Most recently earning praise for his coming-of-age film The Kings of Summer (as well as Nick Offerman: American Ham), Vogt-Roberts has earned significant notice among the Sundance crowd in just a few short years, also turning heads with his short film Successful Alcoholics starring Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield, Masters of Sex) and Vogt-Roberts' business partner T.J. Miller (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Big Hero 6).
It should be obvious to anyone even remotely familiar with Metal Gear Solid why Vogt-Roberts being sought out is an odd choice; his short resume may be impressive and award-winning (Successful Alcoholics can be viewed online here), but doesn't feature the kind of story or sclae one would expect from a futuristic tale of global warfare.
In comparison, Ubisoft's espionage thriller Splinter Cell has not only landed a certified star in Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), but a director well-versed in the genre of covert action and drama in Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow). There's no question that Splinter Cell's progress has applied pressure to Sony's schedule, likely eager to keep their storied franchise from being beaten to the punch.
Whatever their reasons, the news implies a clear vision - something that has held up the process for years. Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima has established himself as one of the most eccentric minds in Japanese game development, with many entries in the series containing enough cut-scenes to compose a full-length film on their own. It was no surprise, then, that a "difference in vision" between developer and studio was claimed to be the major obstacle in development.
Producer Avi Arad (The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man) cited the lengthy cinematics in the series as a large reason adapting the game to film would be easier than other properties, but turning game into script isn't going to be easy no matter how much of the legwork the games have completed. However, Vogt-Roberts' possible involvement offers some hints as to the studio's vision.
It was the covert operative 'Solid Snake' who became the face of the series when it appeared on the Sony PlayStation, but the sly hero is actually a clone of the legendary covert operative dubbed 'Big Boss,' a major player in the black ops of the 1960s. As is usually the case when cloning is involved, the plot becomes far more complicated from there on out.
How to welcome an audience into that kind of far-fetched fiction is the obvious challenge, but it doesn't hurt that the voice of Snake - voice actor David Hayter - was also a screenwriter, working on scripts for X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Watchmen and being attached to the rumored Black Widow standalone film. Hayter also developed a screenplay for Metal Gear Solid years ago, but the recent re-casting of the role (with Kiefer Sutherland) puts that working relationship in serious doubt.
Aside from all other factors, Vogt-Roberts has shown a flair for complex relationships, ranging from young boys to troubled adults. Those strengths could be put to use in all aspects of Metal Gear Solid's world, but his preference for a dark humor is still somewhat confusing. Then again, fellow indie director Colin Trevorrow was handed the reins to Jurassic World after showing similar strengths with the offbeat Safety Not Guaranteed. So perhaps Sony is simply following their competitors' lead.
Hopefully an official announcement will be made soon, so a clearer picture of the studio's plans for the film can begin to form. For now, what do you make of the report? Is Vogt-Roberts the kind of fresh perspective that a series as unique as Metal Gear Solid will need, or would you prefer they turn to a more seasoned blockbuster director? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Metal Gear Solid is without any announced release date.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.