ByElise Jost, writer at
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Elise Jost

We thought we knew the deal with adaptations: Popular game makes lots of money, studio decides to convert it into a movie, gamers find it not close enough to the original material and non-gamers find it too niche — yada yada yada, the movie flops.

But thinks it's cracked the code, and vowed to make its number one franchise succeed on the big screen. , the everlasting series starring a bunch of sneaky guys in hoods against a bunch of bad guys you'll recognize by their absence of hoods, is coming to theaters in December. will star alongside , and both are reuniting with their Macbeth director Justin Kurzel.

While the movie will only loosely be based on the game's universe, introducing a new story for the main protagonist Callum Lynch, there's still lots we already know about the Creed and its many secrets. One of the most fascinating aspects of the franchise is that it's always found inspiration in real historical events, but what exactly is the true story of Assassin's Creed?

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The Assassins Date All The Way Back To The 11th Century

'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]
'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]

Initially, the Assassins were inspired by the Hashshashin, an Islamic sect of the 11th century officially named the Nizari Ismailis, founded by Hassan-i Sabbah and later on led by Rashid ad-Din Sinan, a.k.a. the Old Man of the Mountain. While they were known and feared as assassins, only a fraction of the order was actually trained to kill — but they all knew how to threaten anyone not complying with their rules. They would leave notes to their victims in the middle of the night, driving them into such a state of constant paranoia that they would end up fulfilling whatever the order's wishes were.

Little is known about the Hashshashin, seeing as they were wiped out by the Mongol empire in the 13th century and mostly survived in tales of Crusaders, who certainly twisted the story into a terrifying legend. But even the word "assassin" is believed to be derived from this mysterious group.

The Legendary Rule Of The Spanish Inquisition

How torture by the Spanish Inquisition was pictured in 1849
How torture by the Spanish Inquisition was pictured in 1849

We know that part of the Assassin's Creed movie will take place during the Spanish Inquisition, as Lynch is forced to experience the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, thanks to an unusual time-traveling machine designed by Abstergo Industries. The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, Inquisition for short, was an institution in charge of making sure the rules of Catholicism were respected throughout the Spanish Empire, under the rule of a Grand Inquisitor.

Established in 1480 by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the Inquisition lasted until 1834, and was created to replace the Medieval Inquisition, which was helmed directly by the Pope. Throughout its existence, it gained a reputation of ruthlessness and repression of non-Catholics — but this perception varied later on, when Protestants were accused of spreading false rumors about the cruelty of the organization.

It's the perfect background for an Assassin's Creed movie, considering the order's credo is based on the rejection of oppression. At the time of the Spanish Inquisition, then, the Assassins would have done everything in their power to contest their rule.

Assassins Vs. Knights Templar: A Centuries-Old Feud

'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]
'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]

The legend of the Knights Templar is much more ingrained in popular culture than that of the Assassins, and for good reason: While they were originally one of the most powerful orders in the Christian Middle Ages, their name was reused time and again for various secret orders around the world, keeping their legacy alive.

The original Knights Templar, who called themselves the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were an order of Knights endorsed by the Catholic Church, active at the heart of the Crusades. You've probably seen their white outfits adorned with a red cross, but on top of being excellent fighters, they were also behind major social innovations. After the Crusades ended, however, they were so quickly and dramatically dismantled that rumors believed they still existed in secret.

'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]
'Assassin's Creed' [Credit: Ubisoft]

The lab experimenting on Lynch in the Assassin's Creed movie, Abstergo Industries, is the modern-day version of the Templar Order. As an all-powerful, centuries-old order, they're the typical enemy of the Assassins, who believe in individuality. The Animus project, which sends Lynch back in time, will take both sides back to the roots of their conflict.


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