Okay, let’s get the obvious bits out of the way: the first Dungeons And Dragons movie was a flop and for good reason. It was a cringeworthy, poorly thought-out piece of fantasy cinema which somehow managed to miss out on every single aspect of what made the game great, while delivering some of the worst performances the early 00’s had to offer. Granted, Jeremy Irons’ role as the evil wizard Profion gave us the baseline for every evil wizard BBEG we’ve crafted since, but that was about it. However, Warner Bros is currently considering a brand new approach to getting nerddom’s longest-standing tabletop RPG to the silver screen and they seem to have some pretty solid ideas about it…
According to the movie’s producer, Roy Lee (the driving force behind the LEGO Movie) on a recent interview he gave during DICE 2016:
“This new Dungeons & Dragons will be a Guardians of the Galaxy-tone movie in a Tolkien-like universe. Because when you think of all the Hobbit movies and The Lord of the Rings, they have an earnestness to them, and to see something fun, a Raiders romp inside that world, I feel is something the audience has not seen before.”
Alright, so this quote features a lot of nerd-friendly name-dropping, which sounds encouraging, but might not amount to more than just a gaggle of references without a screenplay to go along with it. Thankfully, the speculated final draft of the screenplay has been penned by David Leslie Johnson, the man in charge of the current Aquaman movie and the person behind Wrath Of The Titans, which might not have been the Citizen Kane of fantasy films, but at least it was fun to sit through.
Johnson went on to try to quell our fears, by ensuring fantasy nerds that:
“Everyone who’s involved with it now, especially the writer of the first draft is a fan from the very beginning starting with Chainmail, which turned into Dungeons & Dragons, so you’ll see things that are very faithful to the source material as well as new elements are being incorporated with help from Wizards of the Coast, who are giving a lot of input on the script.”
So the film will be attempting to stay as faithful to its source material as possible. That’s a tall order, especially considering that Dungeons & Dragons campaigns vary wildly from one another, from the moment the group even decides to pick up their character sheets. Heck, that’s even without even going into the myriad established settings, official source-books or even into Sam‘s weird homebrew Spelljammer campaign, where we all ended up getting eaten by Giant Space Hamsters (Sam fudged the monsters’ Save Vs Magic rolls, by the way; I’m just letting everyone know as publicly as possible). The screenwriter assured his audience that the film would have a more tongue-in-cheek tone, like Guardians Of The Galaxy, claiming that this film was closer to the idea of a functional group of adventurers than any other film that’s hit the mainstream so far. We’ll have to object to this: if we were to go by experience, then Ash Vs The Evil Dead is a much more acurrate presentation. After all, most players choose to make terribad decisions 90% of the time just for the heck of it. It’s what makes Dungeon Mastering such a rich, rewarding experience.
Of course, Lee has already started making allusions to a larger cinematic franchise based off the D&D film, by saying:
“I think it will really be moving forward quickly, and I don’t anticipate it not getting greenlit this year, mostly because Warner Bros. has DC now, and LEGO, and the Harry Potter universe that’s being cultivated as their franchises. I believe they see Dungeons & Dragons as something that could be cultivated as a multi-universe movie where there will be spinoffs from the first movie being in Forgotten Realms and subsequent movies being in different worlds.”
So Warner Bros. is currently looking to crack down on as many popular cinematic franchise universes as possible and they’re even willing to take the risk of world-hopping, while trying to reach a wider audience? Man oh man, are they looking to get themselves in trouble. Still, a proper Forgotten Realms live action film might just be what the franchise needs to kick off its next incarnation. We won’t know until the movie begins shooting properly, sometime in 2016.