Assassin’s Creed is one of the great gaming icons of the last decade. While every generation has had their stars—be it Italian plumbers, hedgehogs with attitude, or green-tinted runners-and-gunners—no franchise has been more defined by its style of gameplay over character this side of Vice City. When Assassin’s Creed hit the consoles of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2007, it literally changed what gamers expected out of storytelling as well as basic play mechanics.
Since the franchise began its twisted web of historical fiction and pure sci-fi fantasy, combining The Matrix with The Da Vinci Code, the series has gone any and everywhere in its short span: from Richard the Lionheart’s Third Crusade of reclaiming the Kingdom of Jerusalem to the rise and fall of the tyrannical Borgia papacy in Renaissance Italy, and then most recently to the front lines of the New World in Assassin’s Creed III (plus the high seas piracy diversion of Assassin’s Creed IV). And with rarely the same protagonist or even story thread–save for a passive bartender named Desmond–it could do just about anything else as long as wrist blades and parkour pioneering are available. Thus, it is about time the Creed goes to the one world left un-trampled by a free-running hood. No, not the French Revolution (though that sounds like fun). It is time the brotherhood goes Hollywood!
An Assassin’s Creed movie is a big priority for Ubisoft, which has partnered with 20th Century Fox to make it happen. And with Michael Fassbender patiently attached to the potential franchise since 2012, it would appear that this one is really happening. Yet, there is not a final script (that we know of) in place, nor is a director attached. Ergo, there’s a Tuscan villa worth of room to speculate and ponder what we might want out of an Assassin’s Creed movie. And we have six such items uploaded into our Den of Geek Animus below.
It is a simple request, but not necessarily an obvious one. Despite being the location of the first Assassin’s Creed game, as well as what was initially the potential franchise’s highest selling point, the time when Richard marched on Saladin has been long overshadowed by the Florentine decadence of Assassin’s Creed II and its multiple spin-offs. While we too love that trio of games (arguably the series’ highlight), the franchise should nevertheless start here.
The only thing holding the subject matter back is that the 2007 game was the first one out of the gate, thus lacking the refinement and variety that came with the sequels. However, the Crusades are a fascinating period of time that are rarely explored on the big screen, possibly due to their hot button nature. Still, it provided the backdrop for one of Ridley Scott’s great and underrated masterworks, Kingdom of Heaven [the Director’s Cut™]. The 2005 epic obviously served as a great inspiration for the original game, and since the game’s hero, Altair ibn-La’Ahad, is such a blank slated cipher of a character, he will give Fassbender and any writer involved a ton of lattitude to create a protagonist as they see fit. Plus, the history of the Third Crusade is purely fascinating.
Parkour And Practical Effects
So, a setting roughly around 1191 sounds dandy, and undoubtedly any historical backdrop will require its fair share of digital effects to recreate the grandeur needed for a potential blockbuster like this. However, when it comes time for the assassin’s targets to start dropping like punctured balloons, there should be no reason to keep this very old school.
No matter the time period, the more in-camera and practical the set-pieces are, the better the films will be. After all, no CGI from a recent Spider-Man film has captured the sheer glee of the free running performed by Sébastien Foucan in 2006’s Casino Royale. Never mind David Belle in District 13. This is exactly the kind of intense style one should expect from a movie about Assassin’s Creed. What’s great is that the earlier the setting, the less money needs to be spent on explosions or super powers. Just a couple of guys running across European or Middle Eastern rooftops while fighting to the death will do the trick, and it will be far more visually dazzling than any giant robots that will undoubtedly also open in the chosen summer of release.
A Better Hero Than Desmond
Now, this truth might hurt, but…Desmond Miles is boring. Like six degrees of Ben Stein boring. As he appeared over the course of five Assassin’s Creed games, he couldn’t muster enough heat to toast your morning bread. Yet, tragically, he was the linchpin wrap-around that connected the first five games. So understandably, to avoid using this bartender with some great dreaming skills would risk blaspheming the Assassin’s Creed name.
However, that is not to say that we should ditch the Animus sci-fi drama with its Greco-Roman space-gods. It is intriguing stuff and vital to the DNA of all Creed games. But whether he is called Desmond or not, Fassbender will likely play both the descendent and ancestors in these movies. Should that happen, “Desmond” will need to actually be worth a damn if the Assassin’s Creed III ending is to ever be filmed and matter (neither of which are absolutely necessary).
Creating a hero for the “present” who uses the Animus to unlock the past’s secrets should offer a sort of Indiana Jones for the digital era. A purveyor of ancient civilizations that gets caught up in crazy adventures with a keyboard and VR goggles instead of a whip and fedora. In short, his adventure should be just as engrossing as any ancestor’s, making the continued progress of film to film and era to era worth exploring.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Ezio Auditore da Firenze absolutely needs to be in an Assassin’s Creed movie, even if it is not the first one. We may dream of a Crusades flick, but there is no denying that the franchise’s most charismatic, enticing, and memorable character to date has been the Florentine Romeo turned papal state liberator. After all, he is the only ancestor who got more than one game as the headlining lead. In fact, he got three.
While the chances of spending more than one movie with Ezio as the lead seem remote, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t count. To contrast with an Altair, who might be played as a bit of a more stoic self-serious assassin, Ezio could provide contrast that demonstrates Fassbender’s range and also be a wild time to see onscreen. By possibly combining the plots of Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, we could witness a true Italian experience of the villainous houses Pazzi and Borgia conspiring against the man who unites such disparate thinkers as Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli. With all the crazy intrigue of a Dan Brown novel, except with a hero worth watching, it could be the highlight of the franchise.
Ridley Scott Should Direct…Maybe
Ridley Scott truly is an inspired choice to direct an Assassin’s Creed movie. At least, he would have been several decades ago. While Scott’s influence is nearly overbearing on the original Assassin’s Creed game by way of Kingdom of Heaven, the truth is that there has never been a director who so firmly had one foot in ancient historical fiction and in mind-bending science fiction.
For example, in 1980, Scott came off making what might have been the best Lovecraftian horror movie ever filmed (even if Lovecraft didn’t write it). Alien (1979) is a terrifying journey into the mouth of the maddening unknown on a spaceship that mistook a warning to be an invitation to help. A few short years later, Scott would outclass this masterpiece with another classic of the genre, 1984’s stunning Blade Runner. Perhaps the crowning achievement in “robots are amongst us” cinema, it played with the notion of what being human really is on a visceral backdrop that no other filmmaker could create.
Then again, Scott had already built a world of near equal authenticity and beauty with the little seen, but truly great The Duelists (1977). As a decade-spanning epic of personal vendetta in the Napoleonic Wars, it was a beautifully mounted period piece with sprawling ambition. And it also marked another side of Scott’s tendencies that would manifest again in more recent works like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven.
The only reason to give pause now about the prospect of Scott doing Assassin’s Creed is that his last foray into the “historical” epic, 2010’s drowsy Robin Hood, and his most recent sci-fi homecoming with Prometheus (2012) left more than a little to be desired. Nonetheless, both had a great visual flair and were mostly let down in the scripting department. Perhaps if Ubisoft can wrangle a narrative as strong as the Assassin’s Creed brand can muster, then Scott’s Prometheus leading man could convince him to try both genres one more time in the same film. Heaven knows that the Juno and Minerva computer programs aren’t any more outrageous than the Engineers were…
Kristen Bell Plays Lucy Stillman
Assassin’s Creed truly needs Kristen Bell to reprise her (vocal) role of Lucy Stillman for the live-action movie. Why? Because the world needs more Kristen Bell in it. Period.
So there are our six hopes for an Assassin’s Creed movie. What are yours?