We’re less than a month away from Warcraft, the movie based on Blizzard’s popular fantasy series. The movie has a lot riding on it: it’s the first movie based on one of Blizzard’s various properties, and its fans are also hoping that it’ll break the long running streak of video game movies not being good, especially considering how divided everyone is on the Assassin’s Creed movie now that we’ve actually seen footage from it. Should Warcraft be successful, it’ll hopefully lead to other Blizzard games being optioned for films. And next on that list should be Overwatch.
Today, Blizzard released the third animated short for the game. In it, we finally see the face off between the Shimada brothers, archer Hanzo and the younger cyborg ninja Genji. Once again, the animated short is action packed and hits all the right emotions, telling a story of a broken family somewhat reconciling their differences and coming together. And there’s also arrows and dragons too, which makes it even better.
There’s just one question that remains after watching all of that unfold: Why the heck isn’t this stuff a movie? Since the first trailer, people have said that the game looks like a Pixar film, which is hard to argue against. All the cinematics from Blizzard games look amazing, but Overwatch is something different; it’s colorful, it’s got more of a sense of humor than the studio’s other work really suggests, and in general has a more kinetic and energetic vibe compared to the gloominess of Diablo, Starcraft’s tragic love story, and World of Warcraft’s slow, but grandiose story telling. Warcraft the movie is aiming primarily towards people who’ve played the game or have any interest in something like Lord of the Rings. It’s got humans, orcs, and magic, and that’s really all that needs to be known. At the same time, it’s possible that it looks too much like standard fantasy that it may turn people away.
Overwatch has several factors in its favor. This property is basically a superhero game, and superheroes are the big thing in theaters right now. Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC’s… plans, anyone who’s hoping for the superhero movie trend to die out won’t be seeing those dreams come true anytime soon. More importantly, there are few superhero movies that are genuinely for kids and not just the “hey, kids, tell your parents to buy this for you!!!” sense. While there’s violence in this game (it is a shooter, after all) and it features characters who either kill for a living or have been killed, the robots are typically the victims in the cinematics. It’s made the cinematics easy to show to a kid without fear of it affecting them too bad; after all, they can’t be all that freaked out by someone taking a bullet to the head if that person is just bolts and gears.
An Overwatch movie would also provide more story info. Over the months, Blizzard has been releasing supplementary content to fill in some gaps–the cinematics, plus the online comics–but there’s no single player mode for the game that would further help with the story. Fans still undoubtedly have questions about the Omnic War, the rise and fall of the titular peacekeeping force, and what happened to all the playable characters. The game’s not even out yet, and fans are already speculating and have ideas on things such as Mercy being responsible for Reaper’s condition and Genji’s training with Zenyatta. The movie could answer questions that fans have had, all while being incredibly entertaining a visual treat for the eyes.
Blizzard clearly has big plans for Overwatch–the game is a week away from release, but they’ve been using the word “franchise” frequently in interviews, and even if they hadn’t, Blizzard isn’t known for making one-and-done games. Of all their properties that could be viable for some wicked expanded universe material, this would be the top, thanks to its premise and eclectic cast of characters. And what better way to kick all of that off than with a film? Plus, there’s a good chance that a movie could have music made by their character Lucio, and that’d be pretty sweet.