BySimon Rune Knudsen, writer at
A tryhard person enthusiastic about dad rock and weird beers.
Simon Rune Knudsen

To initiate the golden age of successful video game movies, we need one breakthrough success to set the standard. Such is the opinion of Ari Arad who, along with his father and Marvel Studios founder Avi Arad, is producing a number of upcoming video game movie adaptations in the coming years.

In a recent interview with Polygon, Ari Arad compares the situation of movies based on to that of comic book movies before Marvel made Iron Man in 2008. Because even though some movies like the Resident Evil series and Warcraft have done alright commercially, none them have reached widespread mainstream attention or gained any kind of critical acclaim.

To do that, video game movies need their equivalent of Iron Man. A movie that can set free the as yet untapped potential of big screen video game storytelling and introduce a cookie-cutter approach that works for the masses as well as fans.

Tapping Into The Vein Of Comic Book Movies

[Credit: Marvel Studios]
[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Ari Arad's goal is to create film adaptations of gaming franchises like Uncharted or Borderlands in the same vein as recent comic book movies based on X-Men, The Avengers and Spider-Man. And achieve the same ridiculous amount of success.

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According to Arad, an adaptation has to "strike a balance between satisfying fans and newcomers" to do that. It should strengthen a fan's bond to the video game, while at the same time allow people who have never tried that game, or any other game for that matter, to be taken along for an entertaining and accessible ride.

Different Medium, Same Approach?

But there are some key differences between making a comic book movie and a movie based on a video game. Because unlike comics, video games don’t contain simple stories that can be retold as easily in film. The experience of playing a game is more based on individual choice, not as passive as reading and generally more complex.

"A lot of the games I love I don't think I could make into a movie. If too much of what I like about a game is the gameplay, then maybe it's not a good idea."

- Ari Arad to Polygon

Instead, you have to approach a video game movie like you would a good sports flick:

I don't watch sports, but I really like sports movies and sports writing. (...) they allow me to feel about the sport the way the person who created the movie or writing felt. That's (also) the brass ring for adapting a game into a movie."

Finding The Essence Of The Story

[Credit: Konami]
[Credit: Konami]

At the moment, Ari and Avi Arad are connected as co-producers to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid, Uncharted and Borderlands movie projects. And in the interview with Polygon, Ari Arad shared some thoughts about the Metal Gear Solid movie specifically:

"Metal Gear Solid is like a spicy dish. It's hard. It pushes back on its player in an awesome way. It's a wild experience and when you hang in there it is satisfying."

The Metal Gear movie is moving forward with Hideo Kojima writing and Kong: Skull Island’s Jordan Vogt-Roberts directing. But according to Arad, there's no way they can just take a piece of a Metal Gear Solid game and turn that into a movie. No, they have to discover what's fundamental to the game, what makes it different.

Just like they did with Iron Man, the movie that kickstarted the golden age of super hero movies. As Ari Arad said to Polygon:

"We didn't know Iron Man wasn't super cool when we started on the movie. (The movie) pulled the soul out of the comic and it was a different take. That's what has to happen for a game movie to be great."

What do you think is needed to create a successful video game movie?


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