Friday, 12 May 2017

Top 5: Video Game Franchises That Deserve The 'Marvel Treatment'

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the greatest cultural phenomena of recent times and is one of the main contributors to the rise of the 'shared universe' template for franchises that consists of many stories told through various mediums such as film, books and TV shows. In order to survive and thrive, the franchise has to have a cast of colourful, interesting and relatable characters and an in-depth setting as well as an enjoyable story arch that can be fleshed out by those who are interested by hidden Easter Eggs and sub-plots while still being basic enough to be glanced over by casual fans. Another important aspect of shared universes, at least to get them off the ground, is to have a well-established bank of lore and fans to provide inspiration for the massive story undertaking that is to take place. This is why shared universes based off of comic books, novels, toys and films have succeeded so well. However, there is one medium that has yet to have the 'Marvel Treatment': video games (Activision's attempts at Call of Duty and Warcraft aside). And, while there is a good reason for this (just think about the quality of video game films over the years) I still think that we should give it another go and make the shared universes of our video game dreams.
And, so, without further ado, welcome to my list of the top five video game franchises that deserve the 'Marvel Treatment':

5: Kingdom Hearts
Now then, you'll have to indulge me slightly here as I have always wanted a Kingdom Hearts movie ever since playing the original about ten years ago. But also, if you think about it, it makes sense. I mean the franchise is already a shared universe of Disney and Square Enix properties with colourful characters, brilliant settings and a frankly amazing storyline that can be as in-depth as 'boy fights darkness with big key' to whatever the hell Nomura has ended up with at the moment. And for those who are confused by the storyline (and, if I'm honest I'm starting to be after playing through Birth By Sleep) a movie and TV series could help flesh it out. The only problem would be keeping the Disney stories fresh and not just a rerun of the originals (although Disney are doing more of this nowadays anyway) as without the gaming aspect, they'd have to go really heavy on the Kingdom Hearts side of the Disney worlds. But think how amazing it would be to see the team up film where the seven lights and thirteen darknesses battle it out with an army of characters from Disney and Square Enix's greatest hits as the background. And, who knows, maybe by the time it's finished, we'll get Kingdom Hearts 3!

4: Super Smash Bros.
Interesting and varied characters? Check. In-depth environments? Check. A wide fan base and banks of lore? Check. And, thanks to the Subspace Emmisary, there's even the bare bones of a storyline to expand upon. There would also be the opportunity for lots of different genres with an epic fantasy story set in The Legend of Zelda, a bleak, Alien-like story set in Metroid, a fast-paced action film story set in F-Zero and, of course, a buddy-comedy set in an alternate dimension ruled by the descendants of the dinosaurs, and that has almost no resemblance to the original source material. And then a team up film where they fight Master Hand, a villain with the capabilities of being either very funny or very creepy while the ground is littered with the trophie-fied corpses of the lesser known Nintendo brands. Of course the biggest stumbling block for this, besides the endless debate as to whether Link should be allowed to speak or not, is Nintendo itself. Oh well, a guy can dream.

3: Elder Scrolls
While it doesn't have quite the cross-genre appeal of the others on this list, the Elder Scrolls series has the capability to be the best high fantasy film series since The Lord of the Rings. A story on the Dragonborn, another on the Oblivion Crisis and another on Molag Bal's invasion in the Elder Scrolls Online are the obvious ones but we could also have some on less obvious starting points such as following a Khajiit family setting out to pastures new in an attempt to stave off poverty, one following the downfall of the Dwemner, another on the Dark Elves trying to survive the racist Windhelm and so much more. And just think of the settings! No, better yet, think of the soundtrack (ditto for Kingdom Hearts now that I think about it)!

2: Overwatch
This is probably the most obvious entry on this list due to it being a superhero based game where it would be fairly simple to have a storyline based on each of the characters/character pairs (for Roadhog and Junkrat for example). And, as we've seen, Blizzard have a pretty great storyline hidden behind the polished competitive shooter and this would be a great way to set it free. Brilliant locations, superb and complex characters and pre-signed voice actors if they were to make it animated (something which I think would solve a lot of the video game film problems and offer something different compared to the MCU and DCEU). Honestly, they should just get on with this already.

1: Pokémon
Technically this has been done of course, as the anime links to the twenty films released, but what we really need is a selection of different characters, each with their own Pokémon and skills who then team up to defeat the team of the region/world rather than just Ash going around acting like he's weaker than he really is. And why stop there? We could also have a Guardians of the Galaxy-esque film starring Team Rocket, a cop drama with Officer Jenny and if you really want to tug at the heartstrings, a hospital drama with Nurse Joy. What about a Rocky-esque film with the Black Belts and a series of documentaries starring the professors? The most recent main series games, Pokémon Sun and Moon have started referencing the franchise's previous 20-year history and it's been one of my favourite parts of the games. Come on Nintendo just give us this already!

Goodbye for now, Harry

P.S. Please comment on this post or one of our social media platforms if you want me to do a series of posts detailing how I would design these shared universes. And if any of the above companies want me to writes some scripts, just send me a message :)!

PP.S. Please also comment on any other video game franchises that you feel deserve the 'Marvel Treatment'.

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