In 2008 Marvel Studios released “Iron Man,” which seemingly changed the trajectory of Marvel as a company and set forth a trend that would change the world of film as we knew it. Since then, comic book movies have been one of, if not the most popular genre of film in theaters. 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” grossed a record-breaking $2,799,439,100 internationally, making the movie the second highest-grossing movie in history after “Avatar.” The commercial success of comic book movies opened the floodgates for the revival of another genre — video game adaptation.
There are countless older movies that follow stories taken from these digital worlds, so the concept of adapting video games for the big screen is by no means new. Examples include “Resident Evil,” “Tron: Legacy” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” The main issue with these films, however, is their lack of cultural impact and quality writing. As a result, their respective studios canceled any upcoming sequels, and the public forgot they existed. While the video games may have had amazing writing and great sales, Hollywood adaptations tend to falter, that is, until recently.
Over the past few years, there has been a resurgence of various video game adaptations. These eagerly awaited projects have gained significant traction on social media among fans and newcomers alike, and tend to receive good reviews compared to films of the past. While many still look at these adaptations with hesitation, it seems that the genre is finally developing into something unique and potentially long-lasting.
Surprisingly, one of the first movies to lead this trend was 2020’s “Sonic the Hedgehog.” After a disastrous announcement trailer that brought a storm of hate toward Sony over the physical appearance of the blue hedgehog, the production company spent millions of dollars giving Sonic a much-needed makeover. Surprisingly, the movie somehow still ended up being successful, receiving a 63% score from critics and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. A 93% is a generously high score for a movie and an even higher score for a video game adaptation. “Sonic the Hedgehog” was one of the first commercially successful video-game-inspired movies, and the sequel managed to build upon that foundation. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” beat the ratings of the original with a 69% critic score and a whopping 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Given the massive success of “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and plans for a third movie in 2024, video game movies seem to be on the rise. Sonic is now becoming a movie franchise with A-list actors, such as Idris Elba as Knuckles and Jim Carrey as Dr. Eggman, attached to the franchise.
This phenomenon even reaches into the world of television. Aside from Sonic, one of the most recent — and possibly the best — video game adaptations is HBO Max’s “The Last of Us.” The series is inspired by the post-apocalyptic video game franchise of the same name. The series follows Joel, a hardened middle-aged father (played by Pedro Pascal of “Mandalorian” fame) and Ellie a 14-year-old girl who is immune to the fungus that mutates those infected into feral zombie-esque creatures called ‘Clickers.’
When the series was originally announced, fans had mixed reactions — some fans were excited to see their favorite game displayed in live action while others were skeptical of whether the show would live up to the storytelling that the games are known for. This is valid criticism given the reputation that live-action video game projects typically have, particularly because both “The Last of Us” and “The Last of Us Part II” are Game of The Year winners, but luckily “The Last of Us” has not disappointed thus far. Currently, HBO’s new ongoing series has a 97% average ‘Tomatometer’ and an average 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The critical success and popularity of “The Last of Us” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” goes to show how far the industry has come in regard to video game-related projects. In the past, these projects were typically cheap cash grabs made to attract the original demographic, offering little substance to actually keep them invested. “The Last of Us,” is a show made with love for the source material with enough stylistic changes to add interest for those who do not play video games themselves.
Video game adaptations are looking to be the next thing in Hollywood, and we can already see that they are gaining traction. “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Uncharted” and “The Last of Us” are projects that were crafted to give both longtime fans and new viewers a fun experience without the lack of substance that plagued the genre in earlier years. Video games are a practically untapped market when it comes to film-related media. They follow many of the same genres that films do and with video games being much more mainstream than they were even a decade ago, now is the perfect time for studios to begin working on these projects. Hopefully, as time goes on the genre will grow and shift away from the failures that plagued its past.
Leave a Reply