A Gears of War movie was recently announced during a livestream for the newest game in the third-person shooter franchise, Gears of War 4. Universal Pictures is developing the Gears of War film adaptation in partnership with publisher Microsoft and developer The Coalition. Rod Fergusson, studio head at The Coalition and former Director of Production at original Gears of War developer Epic Games, shared the news on Twitter:
— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) October 6, 2016
According to Variety, producers Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark are shepherding the project. Stuber’s experience on The Kingdom handling gritty action and Clark’s experience on Rise of the Planet of the Apes working with apocalyptic sci-fi should both prove invaluable to a Gears of War movie.
The Gears of War franchise does seem perfectly suited for a movie adaptation. Its larger-than-life characters, huge set pieces, and over-the-top action would all translate to the ultimate sci-fi action movie if handled properly. That isn’t to say Gears of War is entirely one note. The games contain plenty of downtime and reflective, melancholy moments spent exploring and soaking in the tragic scenery of a world torn apart by war.
The Gears of War Universe
The Gears of War series takes place in an unspecified future on an Earth-like planet named Sera. The first game begins 14 years after a mysterious sentient species called the Locust emerges from underground and wipes out most of humankind. After the initial wave of attacks, which came to be known as Emergence Day, the remaining humans flee to Jacinto Plateau, a small area of land located on top of rock too hard for the Locust to burrow through.
In the first three games, you play as Marcus Fenix, a Gear soldier who — along with Dominic “Dom” Santiago, Augustus Cole, Damon Baird, and the rest of Delta Team — must discover the source of the Locust and eradicate them once and for all. Along the way, Delta Team discovers and must also eradicate the new Lambent menace threatning both humanity and the Locust.
Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the events of the third game. Humanity is rebuilding when suddenly they face a new threat, a Locust-like species known as the Swarm. After the Swarm begins kidnapping entire human colonies, Marcus’ son JD Fenix must follow in his father’s footsteps and set out to destroy the enemy threat.
What will the Gears of War Movie Be About?
Details on the upcoming Gears of War movie are scarce at this point. It’s unclear when in the timeline the movie will occur, or if it will feature recognizable characters. In a quote to Variety, Fergusson hints that the movie may be something entirely new based in the same universe.
“I think you have to let the movies be the movies,” Fergusson said. “They’re two different mediums, and two different audiences in some cases, and I think some video game movies in the past have failed because they tried to make a movie for gamers. If you have this great IP with a deep backstory and lots of lore that you can make interesting stories out of it’s great, but if you just go after the gaming audience then it isn’t going to be a successful movie.
“That’s one of the great things about working with Universal,” he continued. “We’re finding that line where we can say it has enough lore and canon that it feels genuine to the game while at the same time going beyond that and asking ‘OK what makes a great movie?’”
There are a variety of options for when a Gears of War movie could potentially take place. The initial events of Emergence Day are no doubt full of intriguing personal stories to tell. Another option would be for the movie to parallel the events of the games. It could do so with an entirely different team of Gears. The games constantly reference the remainder of the COG forces. It would make perfect sense for there to be multiple COG operations occurring simultaneously. The new crew in the movie could even run into Fenix and Delta Team. Or maybe we’ll finally get to learn who has been leaving all of those mysterious COG tags everywhere.
Don’t Be Too Quick to Pass Judgment
This isn’t the first time the GoW universe has been explored outside the confines of the original trilogy. There have been a variety of tie-in comics and books. The fourth game, Gears of War: Judgment, previously explored the events surrounding Emergence Day. That game wasn’t particularly well received, with review scores and sales below those of previous games.
The reception for Judgment may have been due in part to the game’s lack of main series protagonist Marcus Fenix. For Gears of War 4, the series goes back to the Fenix family tree with new protagonist JD. Marcus himself has also featured prominently in promotional videos for the game. Despite Fergusson’s statements warning about focusing too much on the game fans, the Gears of War movie may have trouble connecting with audiences unless it can somehow include iconic characters like Marcus and Cole. Fans have have come to expect these characters in a Gears property.
It’s About Time
Rumors of a Gears of War movie have been circulating for years. To quote another famous Space Marine, “Hell, it’s about time.” In fact, it’s surprising that a movie didn’t come out around the release of Gears of War 3. That was when the series was at peak popularity. Around that time studios were snatching up the rights to video game adaptations left and right. Few ever made it out of the development phase. As an example, see our exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a Saints Row movie that never happened.
Fergusson explains the timing of the Gears of War movie this way:
“As a way to support the franchise the next logical step was to make the movie,” Fergusson told Variety. “We’d done comics and novels in the past but the opportunity to work with Universal to bring the movie to life was perfect.”
It’s likely fans still have a long time to wait before the Gears of War movie makes it to theaters. In the meantime, they can get their Gears fix with the upcoming Gears of War 4 when it hits the Xbox One and PC on Oct. 11.