“OK, places everyone! Lights, camer …”
“LEEROOOOY JENKINS!!!” [charges offscreen]
“… damn it, Leeroy!”
That’s how I imagine it went down when they tried filming a scene for the upcoming Warcraft film, which it was recently revealed might feature a cameo from everyone’s favorite, over-eager paladin, Leeroy Jenkins. Gary Whitta (After Earth, The Book of Eli) wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and recently tweeted a brief section of that original treatment, which features Private Jenkins as a soldier for the Alliance, rushing headlong into battle before the order is given and quickly paying for his mistake.
Leeroy Jenkins was actually in my original draft of the Warcraft movie. And yes, he ran into battle too early. pic.twitter.com/G8bO4KmU6j
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) May 12, 2015
Whitta, a longtime World of Warcraft player who has written for both film and video games, worked on the original drafts of the film almost a decade ago when Blizzard and Legendary Pictures first began production. He left the project when Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man) came on as director in 2009 and had his own vision for the story, according to a recent interview with Slashfilm:
“I was a huge fan of Warcraft from the very first game and was in a serious hardcore raiding guild in World of Warcraft for way too long — seriously, that game can be like having a second job — and since everything Blizzard does is imbued with such great narrative and worldbuilding, I always thought there was huge potential for a movie in that universe. I was hassling my agents to look into the rights long before it got set up at Legendary. Back then I was still something of a baby writer so the chances of me getting that job were slim, but as luck would have it it was around the same time that I sold The Book of Eli to Warner Bros., which raised my profile immensely and gave me the opportunity to go in and pitch on it. I wound up getting that job and wrote the first two drafts, which were different takes on the same basic story idea. Then Sam Raimi came on, and as is often the case when a director boards a project, it went in a different direction.”
Raimi left the project in 2012, citing creative differences and over-protective management from Blizzard. Duncan Jones (Moon) picked up the torch in 2013. The current script is listed as being written by Jones in collaboration with Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond, K-PAX), based on a story by Blizzard’s SVP of Story and Franchise Development, Chris Metzen, who has played an instrumental role in developing the lore and world of Warcraft since the start.
It’s not clear how much — if any — of Whitta’s script survived through to the film’s current iteration, as is often the case with screenplays that get shuttled around the Hollywood machine for extended periods. For instance, did you know that Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights was adapted from a serious political drama written over a decade before by Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!? Given what a huge meme Leeroy Jenkins was for World of Warcraft, though, it seems like an easter egg reference to him would be a sure crowd-pleaser.
Leeroy Jenkins achieved Internet fame 10 years ago in a video of a hilariously botched raid battle in World of Warcraft. After a few minutes of hyperbolically dry planning and calculation, Leeroy — who has apparently been away from the keyboard — jumps up and just charges ahead into the room, shouting his own name as a triumphant battle cry. Chaos ensues, the group gets wiped, and everyone is mad. It was the biggest meme to ever come out of World of Warcraft, and achieved a large cultural footprint for what was still a relatively niche game at the time. You can read our history of Leeroy here, and watch the original video below.