It’s been a busy summer for video game to TV announcements. Following the success of TV shows like Netflix’s Castlevania and The Witcher alongside movies like Sonic the Hedgehog and Detective Pikachu, studios are jumping head over foot to find the next big thing. Now we have TV shows for Fallout, Kingdom Hearts, Splinter Cell, Devil May Cry, and Halo in the works. Well look no further, studio executive who is panicking trying to find a property to license! In concept, below are a few ideas I have for how some video games could be adapted to television, what the structure might be and what the cast and crew might look like. In reality, this is an excuse for me to fan cast like a big ole nerd.
I’m just going to get this out of the way quickly, because it’s much too obvious. Blizzard has put out a dozen Pixar-quality shorts over the last 4 years that tell some of the story of the world of Overwatch. Making a full TV show in their signature CG style would be a great way to expand on the lore while letting the developers spend their time on the actual game. Due to a leak in February, it’s all but confirmed Blizzard is already working on an Overwatch TV Show with Netflix to coincide with the release of Overwatch 2, but since it’s still not officially confirmed yet it qualifies for the list. Loopholes!
9. Far Cry 3
I love all the Far Cry games, but Far Cry 3 boasts the best story in the series by a long shot. Zac Efron is a bit old now, but I think he could pull off mid-20s frat bro-turned-revolutionary better than anyone. I’d run this as a single season TV show, probably locked into 9 or 10 episodes. Michael Mando, of Better Call Saul fame, would of course reprise his legendary role as Vaas, the antagonist, while Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) could definitely pull off the witch doctor, Citra. Admittedly, Far Cry 3 suffers a little in retrospect because of the whole white male power fantasy thing, but this can easily dodged by creating a central squad of POC characters to support Jason out in liberating the Caribbean nation (and save his life a few times as well).
8. Alan Wake
Just literally do Alan Wake, the same story, but instead of trying to evoke David Lynch just actually get David Lynch. I think it’d be fascinating to see Lynch adapt a property that so enthusiastically takes inspiration from his own Twin Peaks and bring it out to the world. This would be an 8-episode HBO joint, I think. No leaving the door open for a second season, close it off at the end. The property is in the public eye again with the Alan Wake Experience DLC for Control coming later this year, so let’s get this going!
7. The Zero Escape Trilogy
It’s likely you’re not very familiar with the Zero Escape Trilogy, a series of extremely intelligent visual novel/3D Puzzle/sci-fi horror games. If not, just be aware that involves a lot of tomfoolery with different dimensions, alternate versions of selves, branching timelines and infinite loops of an infinite series of instances. Each of the Zero Escape games finds nine people trapped in a Saw-like escape room being run by an omnipotent game master, Zero. The timeline craziness is very competently written so that it never strays into timey-wimey territory, and a live action version of some sci-fi horror injected with unprompted pseudoscience TED Talks would be perfect for the Wachowski sisters (The Matrix Trilogy, Sense8). Three seasons, each one nine episodes long (duh), one per game. Make it happen!
Diane Ruggiero-Wright and Rob Thomas are 2 for 2 right now, having knocked it out of the park with both Veronica Mars and iZombie. I say we set them up for another hit with Oxenfree, one of my favorite indie games of all time. Oxenfree is a horror adventure game that tells a story of five teens that travel to an island for a graduation party but are stranded there alone when a horrible storm rolls in. The town is deserted, the island is abandoned and there’s no way out until the ferry comes around again. The kids discover that the island is legitimately haunted, and ghosts infecting the airwaves begin contacting the kids via radio.
The reason Oxenfree received so much critical acclaim is the unique writing style of the dialogue: instead of penning an exact script, the actors were given general ideas of what need to be discussed and were left to have natural conversations while being recorded. Night School Studios cut that audio together to create a too-realistic conversational tone for the game, where it sounds like you’re listening to actual teenagers talk to each other rather than movie teenagers. I think Ruggiero-Wright and Thomas have the perfect resume to make that happen, and, but let’s be honest, this will likely be a CW joint. Let’s see if they can hack it.
Again, this one is too easy. Lady Gaga is a fan of Bayonetta, Tweeting a few years back about how she loved the games and would love to play the character. And, I mean, think about it. This is a no-brainer. A high intensity fantasy action movie is a tough thing to crack, but I’d actually put Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious, Star Trek Beyond) on it. We need big explosions, big guns, big set pieces and big hair to pull this one off. The story is going to play second-fiddle to the visuals, so we’ll need a big budget from a Netflix, HBO or Amazon for a live action Bayonetta TV Show. And I know he isn’t usually an actor, but I keep picturing Brendan Urie (Panic! at the Disco) as Luca. Maybe we can pull Morgan Freeman to voice God for this one, too!
As much as I love the Dishonored series (and trust me, I love it more than you could ever understand), the actual story beats are a little tired for Hollywood. This is essentially a tired and true vengeance dad story. The Empress’s bodyguard is framed for her murder and must go into hiding, gather allies, assassinate (or spare) enemies and rescue his daughter in a magical steampunk city. It’s the setting of Dishonored that intrigues me for a TV show, though, not the storyline of the game. The only character I’d keep is the Outsider, a demon that is the closest thing to a god this world has. He’s actually played by Robin Lord Taylor (the Penguin in Gotham) in the game and created in his likeness, so we’ll just bring him back for the live action show. The story could take place at any time in history, utilizing the unique fusion of fantasy magic, the Void, demons, whale oil machines and gritty London-esque streets of Dunwall to tell a lot of cool stories. The other thing I’d like to see is some allusion to the selling point of Dishonored – assassination targets don’t have to be killed. With some research, each can be assigned a fate worse than death. I’d like to see that concept inform the writing in some way. After some thought I actually would like Tim Burton on this one – he’s utilized steampunk elements well in Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and 9 (which, if you haven’t seen, is maybe his best movie) and he’s a master of working with dark and drab colors (Sweeney Todd and Dumbo come to mind). This could be his big comeback!
3. God of War
This one is again a bit too obvious, but that doesn’t make it a bad idea. There are rumors about already that Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones) will be playing Kratos in an upcoming adaptation of the 2018 smash hit God of War, which tells one of the most powerful stories ever communicated in a video game. In the event that this is true, I think Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road, The Revenant) was quite possibly born for the role of the antagonist, Baldur. Atreus, Kratos’s son, would need to be an unknown actor. I’ve got Ana de Armas (Knives Out, Blade Runner 2049) in my head as the Witch of the Woods, Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (Sonic the Hedgehog, Parks and Rec) as the comic relief brothers Brock and Sindri, Sacha Baron Cohen (Who is America, Borat) as Mimir and Andy Serkis (Black Panther, Lord of the Rings) in for the motion capture and voice of the World Serpent. Ten episodes, each one hour long, and again, it would need to be high budget. This story is Emmy material, people. Make it happen!
2. The Legend of Zelda
I got this one all mapped out. A few years ago it leaked that Netflix and Nintendo were in talks to create a live action Legend of Zelda series, but unfortunately those talks fell through. We’ll keep wishing for it, but in the meantime let’s fantasize! We’re going to use the most popular timeline, The Hero is Successful. This would begin at season one following the events of Ocarina of Time followed by season two as Majora’s Mask. Then a time skip to take us to season 3, Twilight Princess, with an all new cast. Another time skip will bring it home with the fourth and final season being Breath of the Wild. If the show is popular enough, we’ll do a spinoff prequel season for Skyward Sword.
I want this to be 10 episodes a season, and I think Netflix is definitely the place for this to live. Link is going to have to talk a little, but we’ll do it in the style of Mad Max where he says around 100 words during the whole season. Link’s companions will really need to carry the story, so I’d like some veteran voice actors for those parts. I’m thinking Jenny Slate (Parks and Rec, Big Mouth) as Navi, Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Kroll Show) as Tatl and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Trek) as Midna. For the rest of the cast, including Link and Zelda, I’d like to go for mostly unknowns here. The only constant will, of course, be Ganondorf, whatever form he takes. That’s why we need someone solid with years of experience as a big bad – Idris Elba. He would absolutely nail this part. Oh, and here’s the theme song. Everyone wish really hard and we’ll The Secret this into existence!
The Bioshock movie lived in development hell for a few years back in the early 2010s before eventually being dropped, leaving the property still open for adaptation! This is 100% an HBO joint. Three seasons, eight episodes each. Season one is the first game, season two is Bioshock Infinite, season three is Bioshock Burial at Sea. Bioshock 2, while canon, isn’t part of the true trilogy of the story, so I’d like to throw in a lot of allusions to events and characters from that game rather than devoting an actual season to it and interrupting the story. I’d put the original writer of Bioshock, Ken Levine, at the helm for this since he also already writes for TV.
For season one, I would cast James McAvoy (X-Men, Split) as Fontaine, John Krasinski (The Office, A Quiet Place) playing Jack Ryan and directing, Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, La La Land) as the villain Andrew Ryan and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) as Brigid Tenenbaum while making her, as the creator of ADAM, a main character. Season two would introduce Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Water for Elephants) as Booker Dewitt, Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) as Elizabeth, Donald Sutherland (Pride and Prejudice, The Hunger Games) as Zachary Comstock and Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who, Sense8) as Daisy Fitzroy. And here’s a kicker – their relationship has been on again off again for the last decade, but if we can catch Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone during an “on again” period they would have unbelievable chemistry as the Lutece Twins. As much as The Amazing Spider-Man sucked, it’s impossible to deny their on-screen back and forth. It’s a better time than ever for this scathing review of laissez-faire capitalism – if done right this could be the best video game adaptation ever, although admittedly that bar isn’t high.
Which games do you think would make great TV shows? Still thinking about Lady Gaga as Bayonetta? Same, girl. Same. Sound off in the comments below!