It has been a busy few months for Assassin’s Creed, the historical adventure series that has been beloved by fans since its debut in 2007. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the latest entry in the long-running series, released to positive reviews in early November. However, it was back in October that a slightly more unexpected story broke.
Netflix, in collaboration with developer Ubisoft, is in the midst of planning a live-action portrayal of the brotherhood. The production is still in the earliest stages of development and has not yet found a showrunner, but this raises some interesting questions.
Will the series be an original story or will it adapt one of the many arcs found in the games? Is this going to be a faithful reproduction of the beloved series or an evolution of what made it so popular in the first place?
It is interesting to note that this news comes only four years after the series’ ill-fated cinematic appearance. The 2016 film, starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons, was universally panned by fans and critics alike for its dull action and characters and needlessly complicated plot.
For all intents and purposes, the film seemed to ignore what made the series great, foregoing the smart conspiracy theme in a vibrant historical setting for a drab and frankly confusing story set mostly in the modern day.
Assassin’s Creed is not alone, of course. There has never been a wholly successful video game adaptation on the big screen. Most have been poorly received, with a select few obtaining legendary status for their failures.
All one has to do is look at clips from Super Mario Bros., Max Payne and Doom to understand why this medium has found it difficult to claim a home in cinemas.
It has almost become a universally accepted truth at this point that video games and movies are generally incompatible, despite the fact that there remain many video game stories currently in the works, such as Uncharted and Monster Hunter.
Interestingly, certain producers seem to be slowly realising that perhaps cinema is not the right fit for video game adaptations. Maybe the small screen is where these stories should live. While not directly adapting the video game series of the same name, The Witcher found a huge audience on Netflix and was one of the highlights of the streaming world in 2019.
The Last of Us, one of the best and most cinematic games of the last decade, has also been confirmed for HBO. On closer inspection, it makes sense that TV is a more natural place for games. A ten-hour game would be considered short these days, and there is often no way to squeeze every ounce of the experience into a two-hour movie.
On TV however, there is the potential for unlimited development and truly faithful adaptation. Riding on the coat tails of The Witcher, there is reason to be excited for the Assassin’s Creed TV show, and perhaps it is an omen of things to come in the world of video game adaptations.