This past summer saw an astounding number of adaptations of comic books and old TV shows. Looking ahead to the coming years, 2014 and 2015 is scheduled to feature movies about both the Avengers and the Justice League, a third Star Trek movie, a new Star Wars trilogy and the continuation of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Given Hollywood’s extreme interest in adaptations and “nerdy” material, it seems odd that video game to film adaptations remain so rare especially when one considers how much many recent games have come to resemble summer blockbusters.
The scarcity of game-to-film adaptations could be due to a lack of previous successes; 2010’s Prince of Persia stands as one of the most remarkable efforts despite mixed reviews. Universal likely hopes to set a more respectable bar as they recently acquired the film rights to Electronic Arts’ Dante’s Inferno, an adaptation of the classic poem by Dante Alighieri. Video game fans have often suggested that the reason for the lack of quality adaptations is that movie studios pick the wrong games to adapt. Perhaps Universal should have listened to them more closely.
Critics called Dante’s Inferno the game a wasted the opportunity to adapt Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ for a new audience and negatively compared it to the Devil May Cry and God of War franchises. A serious adaptation of the game would likely fail both critically and commercially. Perhaps sensing this, Universal hopes to recruit Fede Alvarez, the director of 2013’s Evil Dead remake, to direct Dante’s Inferno. If Universal wants a film that will shock its audience rather than make them think, Dante’s Inferno could likely sustain a bloody spectacle of a movie. Unfortunately, such a project would likely further stigmatize video games as material unfit for a mainstream adaptation. Those hoping for the first compelling and respectful film adaptation of a video game probably should not hold their breath for this one.