Gears of War is officially headed to the big screen, and we don't blame you if you're a bit wary about it. Video game movies are often pretty bad, or, in the case of the once-planned Halo movie, can end up in production limbo forever.
Still, when Gears of War co-creator and The Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson announced the news during a special Gears of War 4 livestream, he noted that Microsoft and Universal Studios are focused on simply making a great movie first, and a Gears movie second. That gives me hope for a big-screen adaptation of the popular third-person shooter series, and has got me thinking about a few ways that a Gears of War film could be a smash.
For starters, Microsoft and Universal should avoid trying to recreate any of the existing Gears of War games. Sure, they're all filled with memorable stories and characters, but a film version would never live up to gamers' memories of these beloved titles, and would probably be nitpicked to death for missing even the smallest detail.
Fortunately, the Gears universe is filled with lore that exists outside of the core games. There's the historical Pendulum Wars, in which the good guys fought against a rival army long before they were dealing with underground monsters in Gears of War 1. Focusing on this era would allow for a gripping war film that introduces us to key new characters in the Gears universe, while also serving as a prequel to the entire franchise.
There are also plenty of stories to be told about the characters we only see briefly in the games, from the honorable Lieutenant Kim to the gruff Michael Barrick. Sure, you can learn more about these soldiers in the Gears of War books and comics, but a film that sheds more light on them would go a long way with casual fans.
Also, the new Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the original trilogy, so what happened during those two-and-a-half decades? A film could help answer that.
But while I'd love to see a deeply personal, character-driven Gears movie, I also want to see lots of action. Gears of War is a game that lets you slice monsters in half with a ridiculous chainsaw-gun, and a Gears film would need to deliver that same signature gore in a way that's more comically over-the-top than disturbingly gruesome. Gears is defined by weapons such as the Gnasher shotgun and rocket-launching Boomshot, and I want to see them get plenty of love on the big screen.
It's still perfectly okay to be cynical about any video game movie, but given Microsoft's and Universal's intention on making a film for movie fans and not just Gears fans, I think that this one has a shot. Fortunately, you won't have to wait for a film to experience the next chapter in the long-running series -- Gears of War 4 hits Windows 10 and Xbox One on Oct. 7 for Ultimate Edition owners, and Oct. 11 for everyone else.