If this is is the first time you’ve heard Adi Shankar’s name, then sit down around the fire and let’s brush up on some history. Shankar served as executive producer on the 2012 Dredd movie, The Grey, and was the creative mastermind behind the over-the-top Power Rangers short that had people talking in 2015. In the 25-minute phone conversation we had with him, Shankar talked with us a bit on his most recently announced project “Castlevania”, the first season which is set to premiere later this year on Netflix.
So, Castlevania. Can you talk about your experiences playing the game
I’ve played almost every single Castlevania game, even the mobile ones. The gaming engine has really evolved and as you get further and further down the rabbit hole of the different games you realize the different mechanics. It’s not like Mortal Kombat where you can say MK3 was better than MK6. Without getting into any details on the upcoming show, as to why I like certain parts of the game mechanics [from Castlevania], I think one of the things lost in games today is that they’re too easy or way too difficult. Castlevania in the beginning was very difficult, but it had a very rewarding game play. I played a game called Bloodborne ,and it’s a terrible game. It has critical acclaim, but I had a phone call with the creator or the people who had the rights who wanted me to make it into a show or something. I played it for 21 or 22 hours and I was like this is a a design flaw and it is way too difficult.
Seeing as you’re working in conjunction with Konami on this Castlevania show, what other title would you like to work on from their game catalogue to adapt if you could?
The most obvious one, and it totally fits my style and it fluctuates between telling these intimate John Carpenter ‘escape from New York’ style stories to you know having these world building events which is Metal Gear. I would crush it with Metal Gear.
Now I know in the coming months you will be revealing more about Castlevania, but you have said it’ll be dark, how s0?
Very dark. Very gory.
Now we would’ve liked to press further on Castlevania, but Shankar assured us that even though he wasn’t divulging much, the series is rather fleshed out. With the announcement of Frederator Studios, it should come as no surprise that when discussing the studios involvement with the project Shankar immediately gave kudos to one of the driving forces for the project being Kevin Kolde. Kolde is the producer behind Adventure Time, Random Cartoons & Bravest Warrior; all titles under the Frederator Studios umbrella. I know what you’re thinking, how will the animation style of Frederator Studios, known for : Fairily Oddparents, Adventure Time, Bee & Puppycat, ChalkZone, and a plethora of pre-teen friendly art styling tackle such a dark piece of work? Shankar assures that this series will be very dark even when it comes to styling, but wouldn’t divluge any further as it is part of a timed release in the coming months.
Alright, you’ve seen the wave of online praise and affection, you’ve seen the petitions, people just won’t stop bugging you about it, but when are we going to see Karl Urban as Dredd again?
I have literally flirted with the idea, of doing what we did with the Power Rangers film, and blow through the story in a 15 min format with Karl Urban reprising his role as Dredd. What works really well in the comic book format is that you are able to tell different stories through different points of view. If you take Grant Morrison’s run of X-Men called New X-Men, it was almost like a school drama versus a action adventure story. Joss Whedon takes over and it becomes this global peacekeeping task force. With comic books as a medium you are able to transition in and out of different genres and point of view and that’s something that Judge Dredd as a character you can do ten different stories that are drastically different in tone.
Video Game adaptations haven’t had the best track record, to put it softly. We wouldn’t be as bold to say the cards are stacked against you but how do you face down the kind assumed negative perception associated with video game adaptations?
That has never bothered me. When we set out to make Punisher: Dirty Laundry the perception of anything with Punisher was that it was terrible and the same for Venom: Truth and Journalism. It was taken as ‘oh this cheesy, corny, campy thing. I think ultimately that there’s a narrative and perception based on pre-existing language by which something was made and how it was received, but ultimately when it’s released it stands on its own two feet. Any box-office film featuring a Pirate was “box-office” poison until Pirates of the Caribbean came out , “westerns don’t work” and then Django Unchained & True Grit worked. So a negative perception is an opportunity.
Netflix’s platform continues to gain leverage and legitimacy with every year its original content gains popularity and recognition in the national circuit. Video Game adaptations may not have the best rap, but Castlevania certainly has a chance of flipping the script on video game adaptations with a platform that allows for creative freedom with little restriction, which is what Netflix provides. With the comic book medium enjoying a boon at the big screen, video game fans are still waiting for their due. Here’s hoping that Castlevania is the first step in that direction, in the coming months we will be hearing more from Shankar and the team on the project, whose prior work in the pop-culture scene can definitely put many at ease. Stay tuned here on Nerdbastards for the latest news on Castelvania and all projects from Adi Shankar.