January 22, 2013

The D&D Movie and Setting

Recently Tabletop Shop Talk asked what would happen if Disney bought D&D much the same way they bought Marvel Comics. He brought up the points that Disney pushed forward the superb Marvel movies, along with new video games and TV series. Could they do this for D&D? More to the point of this article, could such a company create a D&D movie on par with the recent Avengers movie?

One of the things I think the current line of D&D movies are lacking is an iconic character. The D&D movies are about D&D, not really about the characters and that is a huge stumbling block of the current set of D&D movies. The Marvel series of movies have established characters people already know. The audience buys into the characters. Not so with the D&D movies. A D&D movie needs an iconic character.

And for this we need to look at the past of D&D.
The settings and novels of D&D have created iconic characters. But now the question is...which well-known character or setting should showcase a D&D movie?

Dragonlance was huge back in the day and already has a movie...an animated one...that went direct to video and garnered rather harsh reviews...

"there's little to recommend within Dragons of Autumn Twilight and it fails on nearly every level. It's saddening to witness such a lame adaptation of fantasy material with so much movie potential." Source.
"D&D fans might get a kick out of seeing their favorite characters brought to the screen, but it's hard to ignore so much genre cheese and sloppy filmmaking. Skip It." Source.
" It's been a long time since I've come across a film this bad—animated or live-action." Source.

Can there still be a Dragonlance movie? I believe there can be. The setting and story is unique and the characters are dynamic and interesting. But it would have to be live-action and done with skilled hands.

Drizzt and the Forgotten Realms would also make an excellent movie choice. Even for those people sick and tired of Drizzt and Drow, I believe they would still stream to go see a well done Drizzt movie, especially if it focused on the Icewind Dale Trilogy. In fact, the Forgotten Realms is a ripe field to pick from for movies with Elminster and Artemis Entreri having achieved iconic status in the D&D world. 
I feel the Forgotten Realms has the best chance of sustaining a movie franchise.

There are of course other possibilities...
Dark Sun: Despite having some strong characters that could sustain a movie it is too divergent from mainstream D&D (medieval fantasy) to build a franchise on. A set of movies could still be made, however.
Greyhawk: Solid setting but lacking in iconic characters unless we include the former player characters such as Tenser, Robilar, Bigby etc. While many D&D players know of these names, there are virtually no stories or characterizations of them making identifying with them difficult beyond their names.
Eberron: A unique world but without iconic characters. 
Planescape: Too trippy for a mainstream/non-D&D audience.  
Ravenloft: With the concept of individual domains this prohibits a centralized focus and thus there is no true iconic character other than Strahd and maybe Van Richten. However, it could make for a good D&D movie, but not a franchise. 

What do you think? What characters or setting should a big name movie production company hang their D&D hat on?

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