There was a scare recently. Rumor had it that a Metroid film was being made. That, in and of itself, wasn’t bad news. The BAD news was that Uwe Boll was making it, and he got Jessica Simpson to be Samus. Let me set your minds at ease by telling you that Mr. Boll himself shot down the rumor. Bullet dodged, but let’s take a moment to consider why, in the hands of a capable filmmaker, there will never be a better time to bring everyone’s favorite super hot, powered armor-clad space bounty hunter to the big screen.
Metroid is a franchise that has been consistently good since its inception. Many would say it is on the short list of series that has never produced a truly bad title. As a result, Hollywood has on more than one occasion tried to get their hooks into it, but to no avail. Even John Woo tooka stab at it, but it never got off the ground. Why did they fail? Think of the pool of movie ideas as a buffet. Every now and then you encounter something you can’t identify. So it sits there, untouched, drawing curious observers. Some of them lean in for a good sniff. Some of them poke it with a fork. No one wants to eat any, though, until someone else takes a bite first. Once our culinary trailblazer tests the waters, though, everyone else dives in. In this case, the role of taste tester is played by Jon Favreau, and the mystery dish was Iron Man.
The concept of a hero in a robotic suit is a difficult one for non-scifi fans to swallow, so would be Metroid filmmakers tended to get cold feet. Now that Iron Man has proven that a mechanical knight in shining armor that isn’t Robocop can be not only successful but sequel successful, the ice has been throughly broken. Better yet, Samus Aran is the next logical progression in the formula. If the audiences like a wise cracking man in a cybersuit, they’ll LOVE a smokin’ hot babe in a cybersuit. The fact that she is a bounty hunter in space is the icing on the cake. Samus is a sexy female Boba Fett. In case you were wondering, that noise you just heard is what a million geeks getting erections sounds like.
Before I continue, and to help shake that visual, I’d like to take a moment to discuss her occupation. Samus is ostensibly a bounty hunter. Here on earth, a bounty hunter is a person who tracks down and brings to justice people who have tried to screw over a bail bondsman by skipping out on their court date. I realize that fiction tends to cast them as dragging in any criminal with a price on their head, and that’s fine, but Samus doesn’t do that either. Mostly she is periodically brought in to exterminate a particularly pesky infestation, the titular Metroid. Technically she’s after space pirates, but the game is called Metroid, not Space Pirates. Besides, on the rare occasion she runs into a few pirates, she slaughters them. Samus is sort of like Terminex with a freeze ray and a missile launcher. Awesome? Yes. Bounty hunter? Not so much. Let’s call her a mercenary.
Back to the film. While the cinematic climate has never been better for a Metroid film, that is by no means a guarantee that it will do well. Video game films already have two strikes against them, and Metroid has the capacity to cause a massive fan backlash in the wrong hands. See, Samus is primarily a silent protagonist. Any dialogue she speaks, and there is precious little of it, is in text. Not only that, but it almost always comes in the form of an internal monologue. She has not said a sentence out loud, to my knowledge. This makes her personality a blank slate. The would be screenwriter and director would more or less be allowed to define the personality of a character already beloved by a generation of gamers. Automatically, a contingent of die hards will cry foul if you allow her to utter even a syllable. Tony Stark has had decades of character development to play with. The same cannot be said of our Metroid star. The only thing we know for certain about Samus is that she suffers from the common video game malady of misplacing most of her arsenal from game to game. It isn’t the best seed to grow a plot from. The early games are so fundamentally light on story and characterization that you literally don’t know the gender of your character until the end of the first in the series.
Therein lies the other sticking point. Though Samus is super hot, most of the time she’s sealed up in a suit that is only attractive to a very specific subset of the populous. Sure, recent outings have given her the zero suit, a skin tight catsuit that leaves absolutely no question as to her gender, but that only half solves the problem. If you are going to make a Metroid movie, you NEED the suit, at least at the climax. The fans of the franchise will boycott if you leave it out. That means that for the most crucial moment in the film, our starlet is going to be encased in a battlesuit, rendering those ample assets you paid top dollar for moot. It is that scene that will provide the best effects shots, and thus the scene that will be taking up a sizable chunk of every ad for the film, which means that your high priced eye candy is going to be somewhat wasted.
All of those points aside, I still think the time for Metroid: The Movie has come. It won’t be easy. The road is fraught with peril, and the deck is stacked against the intrepid filmmaker the entire way, but if ever there was a moment that a Metroid film could succeed it is now. Sure, Metroid doesn’t NEED to be a film, but when you get right down to it, nothing NEEDS to be a film. I want to see someone take the challenge on this one. If any of you out there agree, then let’s hear from you. Should she talk? Should she be in the suit? Who should play her? There’s a lot of questions to answer, and I want to hear what you folks think.