After years of false starts, that most movie-ish of video games is finally coming to the big screen.
An announcement at Konami’s Metal Gear 25th Anniversary confirmed that Columbia Pictures are committed – with the help of superhero movie producer de jour Avi Arad – to bringing the adventures of Solid Snake and his cardboard box to life.
But with over 20 games, some truly bonkers plots, and creator Hideo Kojima‘s notoriously complex vision to choose from, it’s going to be a tough job creating a coherent action flick that lives up to the bad-assery of its material.
Which is where we come in. This is how you make a Metal Gear Solid Movie….
Think back to a time before girlyboy emo protagonists, homoerotic vampire sword fights, and the clunkiest dialogue this side of Darth Vader’s "I don’t like sand" chat-up line (see: Raiden’s Metal Gear Solid 4 whineathon about how it rained on the day he was born), and the Metal Gear series was relatively straight-forward.
If you’re attempting to introduce a whole new audience to the franchise (while still staying true to the original fans), you’re going to have to strip all that back to focus on a solid, coherent and simple story – which is why Hollywood should use the original Metal Gear Solid as its key inspiration.
Even to this day, it stands strong as one of the best action games ever, and that’s down to Kojima’s then-uncluttered storytelling and artistic vision.
When a genetically enhanced renegade special forces unit, FOXHOUND, takes over a remote Alaskan island – with the nuke-wielding mech robot Metal Gear Rex hiding on it – it’s down to cigar-smokin’, box-lovin’, grizzled secret soldier Solid Snake to save the day.
Not only is every hero and villain immediately iconic, but the character and stunt design lends itself to a series of set-pieces that would be just as ace on the big screen as they were originally – snow-covered sniper shootouts, tank fights, helicopter attacks, super-fast sword-wielding ninjas, and a blockbuster finale featuring giant mech attacks and a stunt-filled jeep chase.
Throw in plot twists galore, a pseudo love interest, and the whole brother vs brother/clone angle, and you’ve got a plot that straddles the line between Hollywood action blockbuster and loopy, sci-fi riddled ridiculousness with surprising panache.
Much as we love him, even the most diehard of Metal Gear fans would admit that while his vision has made the video game series what it is today, handing creator Hideo Kojima the directorial keys would be a cinematic disaster.
Sure, everyone likes to joke about how each successive MGS is more an ever-lengthening interactive movie than a proper game, but just think about this; while he may be able to brainstorm (crazy) genius plot twists and stylish action sequences, it also takes him around 72 hours’ worth of cutscenes to tell a story.
So where does that leave us? Kojima’s expressed interest in Christopher Nolan taking the reigns, and considering that Christian Bale was once being lined up to play Solid Snake, that seems like an easy – if entirely improbable – win.
A more realistic, if potentially polarising choice, would be The Wachowskis. Erratic quality aside, they’d nail MGS’ array of incredible action set-pieces, and they certainly enjoy tinkering in tales focusing on morally-bleak, sci-fi skewed worlds.
And if you want to go really left-field, then how about Clint Eastwood? This is a man who’s more than a little familiar with grizzled, super-macho ‘me against the world’ heroes, and his increasing descent into grumpy old man OAP age could imbue Snake and his bleak future with a worldly, reflective and very dry sensibility.
Crazy as it sounds, he even makes more sense than your generic portents of directorial doom Paul W. S. Anderson and Michael Bay, as whoever steers the good ship MGS will have to appreciate that it’s a genre more inherently focused on stealth than kabloomy SFX.
Fans of the series are already lobbying for long-term voice actor and screenwriter David Hayter for the role of Snake. Seeing as he’s voiced the character for the last 14 years, and has already written an unconnected script for a MGS movie, it makes sense.
But it’s one thing voicing and another thing physically embodying an action star. We’re going to go ahead and ignore the nightmare of a possibility that Hollywood could opt for a young, muscled lunkhead to fill the title role, and hope instead that they focus on someone a little more battleworn.
If they do decide to go a little younger, then a bestubbled Michael Fassbender could pull if off (and would have had prior video game movie success – we hope – with Assassin’s Creed). Then there’s Josh Holloway – a man who can woo an audience with even the slimmest of screentime (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), and who could double as Solid’s long, blond-haired cloney nemesis Liquid with ease.
Elsewhere, we’d love to see Sean Connery come out of retirement for a turn as gunslinging Revolver Ocelot, Karen Gillen flying the action ginger flag as Meryl Silverburgh, Scarlett Johansson as Sniper Wolf, and nerd-done-good Fran Kranz as Otacon.
While plot, character development and proper actorly types are all well, good and important to a MGS movie’s success, there’d be uproar if some distinctly iconic, and fanboy pleasing odes to the video games weren’t included.
If the finished product doesn’t have Snake sneaking around in a cardboard box, giant mecha robots, some sneaking through airvents, infra-red goggles, the Alert Mode (!) sound, codec conversations galore and – of course – someone melodramatically screaming SNAAAAAAAAAKE whenever they can’t get hold of him, then they’re going to have a hard job winning the fans – and us – over.
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