If there's one video game series that warrants a film adaptation, it's Metal Gear Solid. Each and every installment in the series has been critically acclaimed, and it's allowed games to become legitimate storytelling media rather than an escape from the real world. Hideo Kojima's masterpiece is a vast tapestry of political intrigue and espionage that takes place over more than half a century in the game's world.
Perhaps it's because of the universal acclaim and the praise from the fans that movie studios have been so careful about adapting the series. A Metal Gear film has been in development since 2006, and it took until 2014 to announce a director. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, helmer of this year's Kong: Skull Island, was announced to take the reins and he's doing everything in his power to make the adaptation as faithful as possible.
Vogt-Roberts Respects The Video Game Industry
Speaking to Eurogamer, the director spoke of his love of video games and how they shaped his life:
"If I was smarter and knew more about math there's an alternate reality in my life where I'd have gone into games development. The influence they've had on me as a person, as a filmmaker, it's so intense and intimate and rewired my brain at a very young age - the language of the way video games work is so important. Video games I've played are as influential to me as films that I've watched."
It's the last sentence that's particularly interesting; video games have become a respected storytelling medium — with more and more A-list actors lending their voices (or even their likenesses) to an increasing number of games. Metal Gear Solid is no exception as Kiefer Sutherland (somewhat controversially) took over the role of Snake from David Hayter in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Vogt-Roberts clearly understands this and as a consequence, he's taking his time to figure out the best possible approach to the film.
'It's Probably The Most Complicated Property On The Planet'
Because of the intricacies of the Metal Gear series, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly which story will be adapted into the film. Chronologically, the first game in the series is Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater which takes place in 1964 and stretches over 50 years to culminate in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. There are so many twists along the way and all involve the mysterious Patriots, a secret organization that controls America down to every last detail. The Patriots seek to control the entire world and gain power in the shadows.
Vogt-Roberts doesn't fear the complexity of the story — in fact, he embraces it:
"It's probably the most complicated property on the planet. The reasons people love that franchise are - well, you need to run towards those reasons as opposed to away from them."
Rather than make a straightforward action film, he recognizes the importance of leaning on Hideo Kojima's story; he also realizes that the fans would be outraged if the complicated plot were simplified. There are so many different threads to the story, from the political to the mystical, and Vogt-Roberts intends to embrace them all:
"Committing to the ideologies, the philosophies, the weirdness and the Japanese elements and the fourth-wall breaking and all these great things, that's what Metal Gear is, and that's why the franchise has endured so let's embrace that as opposed to being afraid of it. We're working to get a script that the studio says 'yes, we want to make this', and it's something that all the fans can say 'fuck yeah that's my Metal Gear'. It's a tricky thing, there's a long road ahead but that's the approach with it."
If you ask me, it sounds like we've got the perfect man for the job!
It's Got To Do Kojima, And The Fans, Proud
Over the years, there have been many attempts to make big-screen adaptations of video games — and, for the most part, they've not gone well, perhaps due to the lack of interactivity; playing the games can make fans connect to the characters more as they're controlling them. It could also be down to the storytelling decisions that are made; huge moments in a game tend to be missed when adapted for the big screen, and this brings about its own outrages.
Vogt-Roberts, however, seems to appreciate that he has a responsibility to the fans to tell the story in the right way. As a result of this, he knows it'll be difficult to choose exactly which moments to adapt:
"It's sort of a mix of things. I can't go into it too much. It's not a direct adaptation of any particular game. It'd sound too much like a modern statement to call it a remix, because that's not what it is, but it's trying to fuse a couple of different storylines together, and it's all tied together with a device I can't really talk about right now but that I'm really excited about. I think it's going to make a movie where people go 'whoah, I've not seen that before', and that's very cool. And I think it's very Kojima in its approach."
Metal Gear Solid is one of the most beloved game series in the world. Each game has pushed the boundaries of video game storytelling and, arguably, has allowed other games to experiment and break the mould even further. Jordan Vogt-Roberts appears to be a perfect candidate to take on this movie as he's not only a fan, he realizes the importance of getting this film right.
What do you think of Vogt-Roberts's comments? Are you excited for the Metal Gear Solid movie? Let me know in the comments!