I’m new to this whole Dungeons & Dragons thing and I know that may take away some of my credibility within my geek community. I suppose it’s a chance I have to take though, right? Yes, I’m new to it. Back in 2010, a couple of friends introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons and it was through them that I saw it for being more than just a bunch of nerds in capes and hats. Yeah, it was actually a chance to play an interactive game that was off-the-cuff yet full of rules and a rich, massive back story. Often enough I contemplate seeing if I can find anyone to start in on a game again because it’s been shown to be an amazing bit of fun that you can get into with people from all walks of life. Common bond, you know?
Dungeons & Dragons in the Media
Now, it might be surprising, but Dungeons & Dragons didn’t ever find itself a successful landing point outside of gaming like in television or movies. Even if I wasn’t into the game until 2010, I had always known of the franchise and its existence. Developed and written in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons only had three movies (mercifully, only two seem to be available to most of the world) and one animated television series. Now I adored the television series (I even own it on DVD. Crazy, right? You can find all those old shows on DVD now), but the movies were absolute dreck. One was a wide-scale release featuring Jeremy Irons, man. Yeah. The Man in the Iron Mask Jeremy Irons. It didn’t save it and we all found out pretty quickly that one Wayans Brother will cancel out a Jeremy Irons (and even a Tom Baker — yeah. Doctor Who Tom Baker) any day of the week and twice on Tuesday.
So, with two direct-to-video releases and a miserable big-budget failure as the predecessor to both, it was a bit surprising to hear that Warner Bros. wanted to return to the well and try this whole thing again. It’s not shocking because big studios have been dipping into the ’80s well for years now to reboot beloved concepts and bring them to the big screen. Let’s not even get into what Michael Bay is going to do to my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, folks. We won’t even get into that.
Will This Dungeons & Dragons Movie Be Better Than Those Other Dungeons & Dragons Movies?
It’s 2013. Justin Whalen and Thora Birch are busy (okay, maybe not Justin Whalen), and nobody is calling up the Wayans to come fix this doomed film franchise, but maybe we need to figure out just why it’s so damned impossible to bring a decent light to it in the first place. Is it the actors? Surely. Is it the writing? Of course it’s the writing. I want you to sit back and think about the last time you were part of a D&D campaign and ask yourself if anyone acted with even a fraction of the cheese that was in any of those flicks. No! Of course not! People who write characters for Dungeons & Dragons aren’t (for the most part) trying to be silly; they’re writing badasses and crafting heroes and heroines that will survive massive campaigns! They’re decked out in armor they worked for and they’re built up and weathered and there is a depth and gravity to the stories they’ve put their heart into.
That is what makes a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
I know that, while my character is a halfling paladin who took the class by duty to her family despite being a warmongering brat I took our campaign seriously to a certain degree, you know? If you asked me to cast the characters of our campaign with actors, they would’ve been monoliths and intense actors that could balance humor with deep, emotional range.
That’s what people want to see in a Dungeons & Dragons film. They want to see something they take part in, build characters around, and invest their time in — to be taken seriously and done justice by people who helped craft the series. This isn’t something Warner Bros. can bring any real honor to and I bet, I just bet, that infuriates people.
So I know where I stand, but where do you guys stand? Are you psyched to see this come to life? Do you think Warner Bros. is going to do Dungeons & Dragons any justice whatsoever?
Image: Rolling the Polyhedrons shared by czarcats via Flickr