1. Moral ambiguity
There will be a powerful tendency to cast a bunch of good-looking human actors, give them CGI Orcs to slaughter, and then set them loose in front of a green screen. You can do this, but for the love of Arthas, do not simply project this as a black and white, us versus them storyline.
While it is true that the Orcs are the initial aggressors, by the time World of Warcraft takes place there have been enough atrocities on both sides that the Orcs, humans, and others all have good reason to hate one another. Thrall was a slave; King Varian Wynn was also a slave. Ner’zhul killed humans under the influence of Kil’Jaeden; Prince Arthas Menethil led a wholesale slaughter of everyone under the influence of the dreadlord Mal’Ganis.
Everyone’s done bad things to pretty much everyone else who isn’t their ally in the current Horde/Alliance set-up (and in some cases, even then). If you want legitimate villains, there are plenty of big bads out there to choose from (starting with The Lich King).
2. Acknowledge the uneasy peace
While the game mechanics require opposition of the Horde and the Alliance (after all, it’s not the orld of Peacecraft), in reality the two sides are working for the same goal and have been, well… throughout the game’s history.
The Horde and Alliance took on the Scourge in the Plaguelands; they took on the demonic forces of the Burning Legion on Draenor, and they’re currently assailing the Frozen Throne of the Lich King in Northrend. They’re even shown working together in game cinematics.
3. If there must be war, it must be epic
Blizzard has set the bar high for the filmmakers on this one thanks to Wrath Of The Lich King. Contained in the game are some of the most impressive cinematic cut scenes I’ve ever seen, specifically the Wrathgate. Even if you’re not a mark for the Warcraft lore (and I’m not, most of the time), it’s really impressive stuff and it’s really well done. It’s not impressive just from a combat standpoint, but from a ‘this is meaningful, not just slaughter and videogame death’ standpoint.
It’s the fruition of five years and 80 levels worth of quest lines for one particular city, and completely changed Warcraft‘s faction politics.
4. Include Thrall
I read somewhere that, according to Sam Raimi and/or Robert Rodat, that while the film will be from an Alliance perspective, Thrall will be present. More people play Alliance than Horde, but the one faction chief that people actually care about in the Warcraft universe is Warchief Thrall. He needs to be there, he needs to be involved, and he needs to be given his proper respect. As someone who played and plays both sides of the Warcraft universe, nobody is as important as Thrall.
5. Include, and kill, Archdruid Fandral Staghelm
Remember how I said everyone on the Horde side loves Thrall? Well, on the opposite side, everyone hates Archdruid Staghelm. There are a lot of racial leaders that get indifferent reactions (does anyone even know who the leader of the blood elves are anymore?), but not Staghelm. He’s the only faction leader on the Alliance side that is blatantly loathed. Alliance players even cheer when Staghelm dies! So, make everyone happy, and kill him off.
It might not be lore, but it’s what I want to see from the Warcraft movie and on that list is a dead Archdruid.
6. Use the lore
The World of Warcraft Universe is rich with history. The Warcraft universe is 16 years old as of this writing, and covers nine games or expansions (including the upcoming Cataclysm), five tabletop games, a collectible card game, and 15 books. That’s not counting the comic book, manga, or the magazine.
Surely, between all that stuff, you can pick out some useful elements that’d translate to the big screen. You don’t have to use all of them (not even Blizzard can keep it all straight), just use enough to where I can recognize familiar landmarks, people, and/or events.
7. Include the pop culture references
In every zone, in every town, all throughout Azeroth, Kalimdor, and Northrend, there are dozens of pop culture references. These may be as obvious as the shopkeepers in Dalaran’s Sisters Sorcerous store, Hagatha and Endora Morehead (a reference to Bewitched‘s Agatha Morehead, who played Samantha’s mother Endora), and as obscure as 5 9 16 17 24 43, which are the Lost numbers (plus one) found on the hatch on an island in Northrend’s Bittertide Lake.
If you can think of a TV show, movie, music (Clam Master J and Siouxie the Banshee), books (Ginsberg and Burroughs are hanging out in the Purple Parlour in Dalaran) or videogame, WoW has a reference to it somewhere. This kind of pop culture smarts might be hard to translate into a movie, but I have no doubt some sub characters could carry on the tradition.
8. A PG-13 rating
It seems odd that me, Mr. Gore Hound, would want a PG-13 certificate for the Warcraft movie, but that fits in perfectly with the Warcraft universe. After all, the game has us coated in acidy blood and dying as a matter of course (several hundred times, in fact) yet there’s never anything overtly brutal or mean-spirited about it all. Death just means a corpse run in ghost form.
You can have action and not earn a restricted rating, just look at The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. To add a lot of unnecessary guts and boobs would make it more like a Warhammer movie. Though, that would be pretty cool, too.
9. A good director
I’m going to say it. Sam Raimi is a great director, but I don’t know if he can handle this type of material. Well, at one point I did, but after Spider-Man 3, I’m not so sure. I know he can direct around makeup and whatnot, but he’s not really filling me with confidence about his ability to direct around the kind of serious costumes and devices and whatnot that’s going to go into this sort of movie. I mean, it’s a world with giant cow-men and he’s having Spider-Man and the Green Goblin peel their masks off every two minutes. You can’t very well do that with a troll’s face, no matter how big the tusks might be.
10. Don’t listen to the fans
Yes, I know, that includes me. If the fans are screaming for something and it’s not going to make sense in your movie, don’t include it. I think there’s more than enough Azeroth to make several brilliant movies, but don’t feel pressured to kowtow to the fans in an attempt to win good favor.
If you want to make the fans happy, make a good movie. You’ll get some folks complaining that you took liberties or made changes or left out their favorite NPC, but you’re not going to please everyone and, for all their complaining, if you can make them end the bitch-fest with, “Well, it was at least a pretty good movie, even if it wasn’t Warcraft,” then you’ve done a good job.
Leave your own thoughts in the comments below…