This $160 Million Flop Was One Step Away From Becoming The Greatest Video Game Movie Ever
2016's Warcraft came so close to being absolutely spectacular, but one fatal mistake caused the movie to collapse under its own weight.
- 2023 has been a particularly fruitful year for video game adaptations, with several projects receiving critical and fan acclaim
- However, 2016's Warcraft had every chance to be the greatest video game adaptation of all time, but ultimately fell short
- The movie's biggest flaw, one that led to its downfall, could have easily been avoided, which only adds insult to injury
Video game adaptations have come a long way over the years, from frankly embarrassing creations that had little in common with the source material, to great movies and shows that have been embraced not only by fans of the original games, but by a wider audience as well.
The year 2023, which is now coming to an end, had two particularly notable examples of success in this area, The Last of Us TV show and The Super Mario Bros. Movie.
The HBO series was praised by both critics and fans and received several prestigious awards and nominations, while Mario became not only the most successful video game adaptation of all time, but also the second highest grossing movie of the year, surpassed only by Barbie.
Speaking of highest-grossing adaptations, another video game-based movie released in 2016 had every chance of becoming an even bigger success than Mario, if only the project hadn't gotten caught up in a series of critical mistakes that ultimately buried it.
Warcraft Movie Had Enormous Potential And Wasted It Shamelessly
Warcraft, based on the video game series of the same name, remains the third highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, earning $439.1 million, but that doesn't mean it was a success.
With an enormous (especially for such a niche movie) budget of $160 million and promotional expenses of $110 million, it didn't break even, killing a potential big screen franchise from the start.
Set in the fantasy world of Azeroth, it followed the events of the very first game in the franchise, revolving around the so-called First War between humans and orc invaders who came from the dying world of Draenor through the Dark Portal.
While the movie was visually impressive (which explains the huge budget) and did a decent job of telling the game's story, it had a fatal flaw that led to its downfall.
Warcraft's Biggest Flaw Could Have Easily Been Avoided
The filmmakers attempted to cram an enormous amount of backstory and lore into a single movie, which resulted in some details being changed (much to the frustration of fans) and the story becoming an overloaded mess that confused those unfamiliar with the source material.
Obviously, explaining that orcs are actually aliens manipulated by the "Space Satan" to invade Azeroth, and that the most powerful mage in the world has been possessed by this "Satan" since childhood, along with several other subplots, proved too much for a theatrical release.
Instead, the filmmakers shouldn't have explained so many nuances of the world and should have simply adapted one of the best stories from the Warcraft universe: the fall of Arthas Menethil.
Clearly inspired by one of the greatest movie villains of all time, Darth Vader, the young prince of the kingdom of Lordaeron followed a similar path from being a paladin of light to being corrupted by dark forces and becoming the Lich King.
While it is fairly simple in structure and easy to understand for a wide audience, it is also one of the most powerful stories the Warcraft universe has to offer, with many dramatic twists and turns that make it incredibly memorable and exciting.
Although many elements of the world would have been left unexplained, it's not really necessary, as was clearly demonstrated by 2023's Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which was also set in an incredibly complex fantasy world.
The movie didn't explain who the Red Wizards were or the origins of the exotic creatures it featured, but these omissions in no way undermined the great character-driven story at the heart of the film.
Similarly, the Warcraft movie franchise could have started with a fairly grounded (lore wise) story of a fallen prince and only then expanded the universe.
Sadly, we all know how things turned out, and with no chance of seeing Warcraft on the big screen anytime soon, fans can only mourn the tragically lost opportunity.