Hollywood hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to turning video games into feature-length films. Most of these adaptations have received the cinematic equivalent of a “Game Over” upon release, leading many to believe that a great video game movie is impossible.
The film industry has gotten more skilled at bringing games to the big screen in recent years, however, with Sonic the Hedgehog and Detective Pikachu being prime examples of the turnaround. Just as filmmakers got better at making superhero movies, they could start adapting more and more video games for cinemas the right way, and Digital Trends has put together a list of popular games that have not yet gotten the Hollywood treatment and would be perfect for theaters.
10. Star Fox
Star Fox centers around space pilot Fox McCloud and his titular team of mercenaries as they fight to protect the Lylat System from the evil scientist Andross. The franchise is famous for allowing gamers to control Fox’s Arwing and engage in cosmic dogfights straight out of Star Wars, and it would make for a thrilling and eye-popping animated film for the whole family.
Since Illumination has brought the Mushroom Kingdom to life with the upcoming The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the studio could try its hand at creating an animated space opera by adapting the cosmic adventure of Fox and his friends.
9. Dark Souls
Taking place in a grim fantasy world filled with monsters, Dark Souls follows the undead protagonist as they gather souls before being given the choice to rekindle the First Flame and save their realm from darkness.
Though each game leaves its plot and lore up to the gamer’s interpretation, this ambiguity can give filmmakers the freedom to fill in the blanks to make a unique film out of this acclaimed video game trilogy. At the same time, they can recreate some of the many boss fights that the franchise is known for (though hopefully, they won’t last as long).
Metroid follows bounty hunter Samus Aran as she fights to stop the evil Space Pirates from using the titular aliens as biological weapons against the Galactic Federation. This has led to Samus repeatedly clashing against villains like the alien dragon, Ridley, and the monstrous supercomputer Mother Brain to decide the fate of the galaxy.
With such a dark atmosphere, frightening aliens, and thrilling battles, Metroid could make for a gritty and action-packed sci-fi film reminiscent of Aliens. Samus’ compelling backstory and killer battle suit can make her an action hero on par with Ellen Ripley.
7. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Taking place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars saga, Fallen Order follows Padawan Cal Kestis as he fights against the Galactic Empire and Darth Vader’s dreaded Inquisitors while trying to revive the Jedi Order. Since Disney continues to expand the Star Wars universe with upcoming films and spinoff shows, including a Knights of the Old Republic film that’s seemingly in the works, Cal and his team could reappear in live-action in a continuation of their journeys across the galaxy.
And since the game has already been established as being part of the Star Wars canon, it could be the basis for a film following Cal and his team in their war against the Empire. Disney has already found the perfect leading man to portray Cal in Cameron Monaghan since the experienced Gotham actor provided his voice and likeness for the character in Fallen Order.
Set decades after a machine uprising known as the Omnic Crisis, Overwatch follows members of the titular team as they reunite and recruit new heroes to protect the world from chaos long after they disbanded. The global threats the team must face include the terrorist organization Talon and their ruthless agents.
This online multiplayer shooter game has focused less on its story and more on competitive gameplay. Despite this, Overwatch has shown its cinematic potential through animated shorts following each of its characters, who include the time-warping Tracer, intelligent gorilla Winston, and the angelic doctor Mercy. With such a diverse and compelling cast already laid out, Overwatch is perfectly poised for a theatrical gathering of heroes and villains similar to The Avengers or Justice League.
5. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Inspired by Grant Morrison’s graphic novel of the same name, Arkham Asylum follows Batman on the longest night of his life as the Joker forces him to fight his way through all his greatest adversaries in the titular hospital to save Gotham. Such a premise can lead to DC creating the best Batman film of all time, and the game itself exemplifies what a film about the Dark Knight should be. The game captures the gothic aesthetic of the comics, all while blending gritty realism and dark fantasy into a world that all Batman films should be modeled after.
According to Screen Rant, Ben Affleck wrote a screenplay for The Batman that was somewhat inspired by the game, with cinematographer Robert Richardson saying on the MTV podcast Happy Sad Confused that the film would have shown Batman exploring Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately, as many people now know, those plans for the story were completely scrapped after Matt Reeves took over as director, leading to the creation of the Robert Pattinson-led reboot. Despite this, if DC wants to do the Dark Knight right in its Extended Universe, creating a film based on Arkham Asylum could be the jump-start he needs.
4. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man follows Peter Parker eight years after he became a superhero as he fights to protect New York City from a new, superpowered crime lord named Mister Negative. However, this is only the first half of the game, as the rest of it shows the web-slinger face off against the Sinister Six after they release an army of escaped convicts on the city. With such a long narrative rich with characters, this game would require that the story be split into two films in order to do it justice. But it would all be worth it in the end.
The game tells the story of Spider-Man in an incredibly gripping and heartfelt way, effectively displaying his struggles in protecting the city and living a normal life as he tries to make ends meet and rekindle his relationship with MJ. It also shows a strong admiration for the source material, featuring many Easter eggs tied to Spider-Man’s history and the Marvel Universe as a whole. Yuri Lowenthal’s portrayal of the iconic hero in the game even ranks among the likes of Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland. All in all, this is not just the best Spider-Man video game in history — it’s also one of the best Spider-Man stories, period.
3. Mass Effect
Taking place in the distant future, Mass Effect follows Commander Shepard and their crew on board the SSV Normandy as they fight to save the galaxy from a race of genocidal machines known as the Reapers. The Mass Effect games have built a strong foundation for a successful film franchise, as they feature such a vast and vibrant world with many unique characters that have made them beloved by gamers everywhere (but the less said about Andromeda, the better). Since the franchise’s original trilogy received such widespread critical acclaim, it can lead to a cinematic sci-fi trilogy rivaling hits like Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica.
2. Red Dead Redemption
If Western films are ever to make a comeback, Red Dead Redemption could be the tale that brings the cowboys back to theaters. This critically acclaimed game follows a former outlaw who is forced to hunt down his old gang members after crooked government agents capture his wife and son.
Red Dead Redemption already has a strong narrative, which has tackled many important issues like the cyclical nature of violence, the way people react to a changing world, and the black-and-white ideas of freedom and morality. It also features one of the most powerful and heartbreaking endings in gaming history that would make any moviegoer shed a tear. If done right, Red Dead Redemption could end up becoming the Unforgiven of video game movies.
1. The Legend of Zelda
No matter what era it’s set in, nearly every entry in The Legend of Zelda series follows Link as he travels the realm of Hyrule to rescue Princess Zelda from the clutches of evil, usually those of the Demon King Ganon as he tries to claim the all-powerful Triforce. Though the games have mainly been as silent as its protagonist, this iconic franchise has grown more and more cinematic, and it recently used spoken dialogue for the first time with 2017’s Breath of the Wild. Even so, one of the greatest challenges in making a Legend of Zelda film would be figuring out the right voice for its hero, Link.
Nevertheless, since Nintendo has spent almost 40 years building its world and crafting many epic tales, it has enough material to make a high fantasy epic film on par with The Lord of the Rings film series. But don’t think this would be just a regular sword and sorcery film, as the franchise has also utilized many science-fiction elements, including time travel and ancient robots, that have made each game feel fresh and original. Simply put, a film about the Princess of Hyrule and her chosen hero would be truly legendary.
- James Gunn’s Batman can bridge the gap from movies to gaming
- Beyond Pandora: the 5 best fictional worlds in movies
- The best live service games of 2022: 10 ongoing games we couldn’t stop playing
- The 10 best video games of 2022
- Gotham Knights’ great story suffers from this video game writing trend