Is Oscar Isaac’s Solid Snake Casting Reason to Believe in the Metal Gear Solid Movie?

Oscar Isaac has reportedly joined the Metal Gear Solid cast, but will his portrayal of Solid Snake be enough to make people believe in this challenging adaptation?

Metal Gear Solid Oscar Issac
Photo: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Konami

Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ long-dormant Metal Gear Solid adaptation received a surprising burst of life today when Deadline reported that Oscar Isaac has been cast as Solid Snake.

The details of Isaac’s involvement are few and far between at this time, but some have already pointed out that Isaac’s loaded upcoming schedule (which includes Moon Knight and an HBO miniseries) likely means that the Metal Gear Solid movie likely won’t start filming until sometime later in 2021. Even then, that’s an optimistic projection that doesn’t necessarily account for the million things that can happen between now and then as well as the chaotic state of the film industry these days. The story of the often delayed Uncharted adaptation should give you some indication of how far away the Metal Gear Solid movie really is from being finished.

If everything goes according to plan, though, we will one day see Oscar Isaac grace the big screen (or at least your phone’s screen via a streaming service) as Solid Snake. The question now is whether or not that’s enough reason to put aside your cynicism and embrace the idea that the Metal Gear Solid movie could be the video game adaptation that we’ve been waiting for.

Look, we’ve been down this road before. Ever since Super Mario Bros. invaded our brains in 1993 with the force of a rocket boot propelled Bob Hoskins, video game adaptations have been synonymous with disappointment. While movies like Mortal Kombat and Silent Hill offered rays of hope (and Netflix’s Castlevania has been a triumph), it’s hard to argue against anyone who says that we’ve never had a live-action video game movie adaptation that was as worthwhile as the game it was based on.

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This isn’t even the first time in recent memory that a major leading actor has been attached to a video game adaptation. Michael Fassbender generated quite a bit of hype for the Assassins’ Creed movie when he joined that project, but the final film proved to be a monotonous slog that aimed low and still managed to trip on the way down. There’s also the aforementioned Uncharted movie adaptation starring Tom Holland that has so many red flags surrounding it that you could spot the production from space.

The truth of the matter is that Metal Gear Solid faces the same uphill battle that nearly every video game film adaptation to-date has struggled with. History shows us that the loss of that interactive element that defines the gaming medium makes it incredibly difficult to properly translate a game into a movie. To make matters worse, the brilliance of the Metal Gear series will likely prove to be especially challenging to replicate without the constant creative input of the series’ eclectic creator, Hideo Kojima.

Yet, you don’t have to look hard to find the reasons why you can forgive yourself for feeling a little optimistic about this news.

First off, Oscar Isaac isn’t just another leading man. He’s a genuinely incredible performer whose work in movies like Inside Llewyn Davis and Ex Machina prove he’s one of those rare modern talents with a star’s presence and an actor’s ability to find a character’s depth even when the script fails to properly explore them. You could say the same of Michael Fassbender leading up to his appearance in Assassin’s Creed, but to be fair, I’m not sure there are many people who would place that film’s failure at his feet. Let’s also not forget that Jordan Vogt-Roberts expressed his desire to see Isaac in this role long before this casting was announced.

That’s the other thing about the Metal Gear Solid adaptation. While Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ filmography is small and uneven, his work on Kong: Skull Island alone showcases his ability to brute force some creativity into the modern blockbuster assembly line. On top of that, he has made it clear that he’s somewhere in the neighborhood of a Metal Gear Solid superfan. While Roberts won’t be writing the Metal Gear Solid adaptation (that honor currently belongs to Jay Basu and Derek Connolly) his presence suggests that there’s going to be at least one person on set who understands this series and wants to do something special with it. Isaac has also expressed his enthusiasm for this character in previous interviews.

Taken on their own, none of those factors guarantee the success of Metal Gear Solid. Roberts could bring every ounce of passion he has to the production of this movie and Isaac could turn in the performance of a lifetime, and there’s still the very real possibility that the adaptation won’t come close to capturing the brilliance of a fundamentally weird franchise that somehow balances bizarre moments, memorable character, cinematic style, and genuine emotion. The odds are still against this adaptation being that video game adaptation we’ve been waiting for.

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At this stage, though, the best you can hope for is that the right people are put into the right positions to succeed. Shy of developing a clone of Escape From New York era Kurt Russell, I’d argue there are few major actors who can generate as much hype in the role of Solid Snake as Oscar Isaac.