Warcraft has been being marketed pretty hard over the last few months, and we at GeekFactor are SO EXCITED to see it! (Keep an eye out for our review tomorrow!)
There’s been a lot of excitement, obviously. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made giant strides towards making geek culture more mainstream, and Warcraft has the potential to bring another geek staple to the eyes and ears of the everyman.
There’s some stuff we’d like to clear up, however, so that nerds don’t go into the movie with the wrong expectations.
Warcraft in Popular Culture
When the everyman (or even the occasional nerd) hears Warcraft, he or she automatically thinks of “World of Warcraft” (WOW)—the MMORPG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) created by Blizzard Entertainment in 2004 that took geek culture by storm and has been building a following of millions and millions of people. In fact, when trying to explain other MMORPG’s (such as Final Fantasy or Runescape) to non-nerds, it’s common to say “It’s like World of Warcraft”—and, shockingly, even most non-nerds will know what you’re talking about.
But here’s the key thing that not all nerds (not even those who play WOW) might not know:
The Warcraft movie is NOT based on World of Warcraft.
In 1994, LONG before WOW became a thing, Blizzard Entertainment put out a game called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. It was a Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game and it became a huge deal. Then came Warcraft 2, then Starcraft, THEN World of Warcraft, then Warcraft 3, and then Starcraft 2.
World of Warcraft: Nigh Unadaptable
Why is this distinction important?
Warcraft was based on a simple conflict between men and orcs and the trials of that war. An epic story, certainly, but not too complicated to fit into a movie format.
World of Warcraft, on the other hand…
…The adaptation of World of Warcraft would be a much bigger ordeal. Along with the central conflict between the Alliance and the Horde (each of which is an alliance of races), there are upwards of 6 races (each of which would come with internal political and clan-based struggles in any adaptation worth its salt), as well as a greater conflict with the Lich King.
And then there’s the Pandarens. That’s right, a neutral race of kung fu pandas.
If It Were Possible…
In order to adapt it faithfully, you’d need to start with a group of novices and watch them get up to level 50 while they deal with the central conflict between the Alliance and the Horde and eventually get up to a real conflict with the Lich King.
In other words, to adapt WOW on the silver screen with even a modicum of faithfulness, it would have to be either a 20-hour movie or a 7 movie arc. It’s AT LEAST as complicated and involved as Game of Thrones.
In fact, now that we live in a post-GOT world, it’s possible that World of Warcraft could be adapted into a television show and be given all the time it needed to develop a long-winded and impossible plot. (And if GOT ends after season eight, as it’s been suggested, they’ll have space—and a hungry audience—for a new fantasy epic. We’re looking at you, HBO!)
So, WOW players and fantasy fans, go out and see Warcraft this weekend! But don’t be surprised or hurt when it doesn’t portray the complicated and vast World you’re used to. It’s just Warcraft—which I think most people, even geeks, are going to find much easier to swallow.