Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and future director of the inevitable Metal Gear Solid movie, loves Metal Gear. He loves Metal Gear so much that in his quest to make a film adaptation, he’s putting potential screenwriters to the true test. He’s making them go through a real Metal Gear Solid video game gauntlet.
In a Q&A with Glixel, Vogt-Roberts has revealed his ridiculous quest to get the perfect screenwriter for the Metal Gear movie: a screenwriter who understands and loves the series, ideally, as much as he does. “I brought [writers] over to my house and I designed this weird course where I would load up the original Metal Gear and I would have the writer play that for a while, and just teach them this idea of stealth gameplay,” said Vogt-Roberts. “They'd play that for an hour or so, and then I would jump forward and then I'd load up Metal Gear Solid V and say, ‘This is where it jumps to. You just saw the beginnings of this, and over the course of 30-odd years, this is where it took us,’ so you see both ends of the spectrum.”
Vogt-Roberts goes on to say that most screenwriters would be thrown for a loop at the jump so far into the future. Most played games when they were younger—as in not in recent years—and the older Metal Gear games were found to be better to ease into. Metal Gear Solid 2, in particular according to Vogt-Roberts, seemed to be the sweet spot for most potential screenwriters.
“You weren't fully in control of the camera, you didn't have to independently move it around, and so it was just really interesting watching non-gamers, and seeing where modern games became difficult for them,” said Vogt-Roberts. “ I think people ignore the fact that gaming is a language. If you pick up a Zelda game now I'll know, "OK, I'm in the dungeon, so I'll probably have to move these boxes around to solve this or this or this," and I'm literally taking 30 years of a language and the rules of a specific game into account for how the world works.”
Film adaptations of video games don't have a good track record. Assassin's Creed, despite the star power of award-winning actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, failed to resonate critically (but did okay financially). The World of Warcraft movie of last year was critically panned, but commercially successful around the world (except the U.S.). Game adaptations, for the most part, are often relegated to mindless, not even great action flicks, and nothing more.
And as much fun as it is imagine clueless screenwriters who don't regularly play video games be subjected to the chaotic, bite-sized structure of Vogt-Roberts' Metal Gear Gauntlet, at least Vogt-Roberts is showing care with the upcoming game adaptation. It'll be interesting to see how the sprawling narrative of Metal Gear Solid is condensed into a single film—will this be the first in a franchise? A mixture of different games? Something wholly its own? I guess we'll see.