Note: This article may contain minor spoilers for the Metal Gear Solid series.
Metal … Gear? The movie?
At the 25th anniversary of Metal Gear in Tokyo, Konami announced the real deal: Metal Gear Solid is officially getting its own film.
I was pretty psyched. After all, the Metal Gear Solid mythology is damn near close to a movie.
It has everything — a deep story, in-depth characters, twists, detailed dialogue, and of course, tons of action.
But why am I sitting here writing this article? I’ll try to explain, dear reader.
There are several aspects of what Metal Gear truly is. It’s a game. It’s a movie. It’s both of those. Most importantly, it’s an experience that we engulf ourselves in.
These reasons reflect that. Bear with me, and maybe you’ll see my point.
Expansive and revolutionary
Think about how groundbreaking the action-tactical espionage titles are. Prior to Metal Gear, games had cinemas and cool cut-scenes (see: Ninja Gaiden), but Kojima left his own unique footprint.
It dug deeper. It had great dialogue. You fell in love with it. Games were becoming more than, well, just games, you know?
It made me connect with all the characters — something movies do, too. It made me feel emotions and express concern. I can’t help but think how much the current generation of games were indelibly influenced by Metal Gear's heavy emphasis on plot.
I honestly cannot see a cinematic adaptation squeezing a phenomenal story and well-developed characters into two hours.
Metal Gear Solid was lengthy. There were several characters, each with unique backgrounds. There were bosses. It had multiple endings. (OK, so DVDs feature deleted scenes, but come on now; the choices you made altered the climax.) That’s something only the player can do, not someone watching the adventure in a theatre.
Though Christopher Nolan’s Batman series has done a phenomenal job in capturing the spirit of the DC comics (with one or two villains), I don’t think the Metal Gear film could deliver.
What the hell kind of story will be written?
Metal Gear’s scripts are complicated; they're hard to understand to begin with. If they make the film a three-parter, it would still be stuffing it into a pack of gum. Metal Gear’s origin began with the original Snake (Big Boss) and The Boss herself. This was way back in the 1960s (during the Cold War). Everything is connected, influenced, or revisited in every title.
The problem is that the movie's script is probably going to be original (and not a mere adaptation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an unrelated story inserted into the movie. (Remember Resident Evil or Super Mario Bros.?)
Unless Hideo Kojima is watching it like a hawk, Hollywood could ruin it. They'd prioritize the box office over staying loyal to the fans. They will need the right director, and I’m entirely unsure who the hell is suitable to take the job.
This seems rather unnecessary. However, the codec conversations were crucial in conveying this intriguing saga.
We had facial expressions. Liquid Snake impersonated Master Miller (and fooled us all). Naomi told Gray Fox’s life and explained FoxDie. Heck, we could flirt with Mei Ling.
It’s these little things that made Metal Gear what it is today. It wasn’t like dialogue was repeated; the further you drew yourself into conversations, the more fun and interesting it became. My brother would skip the codec moments because he was sick of not playing. But I couldn’t wait to hear what else the supporting cast had to say to me.
Since 1998, David Hayter (who gave birth to Solid Snake’s voice) has remained faithful with Konami’s MGS franchise. No one else has voiced Snake in English (with the exception of Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid 4). He has that “it” factor. The scratchy voice is easily recognized, and it will be hard to beat his performances. He’s not an actor, but he does do voiceovers and screenwriting.
Who will play him, then? Christian Bale?
OK, so Christian is fantastic at playing a hot-headed soldier, psycho killer, and a deep-throated Batman. He’s a great actor. But he isn’t Snake. Snake is meant to be portrayed the way we see him now.
He's young. He’s old. He’s vulnerable. And he’s a game character (a mascot, even). He’s been around for 25 years, by the way. He’s changed over time.
Interactive, not gimmicky
Psycho Mantis read the player’s mind (as in, searching your PS1's memory card for Konami games). How to slip away from his psychic powers, you ask? Change the controller port to slot 2.
That was also a first for me. I never experienced anything like that in any other game. It was memorable, original, and brilliant. The only thing that came close to that was X-Men for the Sega Genesis. (You had to reset your system when you defeated Mojo.)
What’s going to be interactive about Metal Gear the movie? 3D glasses? Thanks, but I’ve seen enough of them. Yeah, it will be neat to see the famous “!” pop out in a three-dimensional design, but again, we’re talking about the film industry. They want over-the-top, non-stop action. They want a war movie. They want CGI and amazing effects.
It’s easy to over-gimmick a movie and forget about having any relevance to its main purpose — the plot.
I don’t know, man. Maybe I’m just paranoid.
Will it work? Is it too soon? Maybe I’m just too grumpy.
It’s worth noting that Solid Snake himself was influenced by Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken character in 1981’s Escape from New York.
Great film, but I’m not sure if one original idea (influenced by another) can bring itself back properly to the big screen.