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""A feature film adaptation of the beloved video game franchise Metal Gear Solid has been in the works for a long while now, but it gained some steam in February 2014 when filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts—fresh off his unique Sundance indie Kings of Summer—signed on to take the helm for Sony. Vogt-Roberts soon thereafter became mighty busy as he took the helm of Warner Bros. and Legendary’s King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island, but now that that film is about to hit theaters, Vogt-Roberts may have more time to devote to Metal Gear Solid.
But where, exactly, does that movie stand? Is it actually happening? Is it Vogt-Roberts’ next film? When Collider’s own Steve Weintraub caught up with Vogt-Roberts at the Kong: Skull Island press day, he asked the filmmaker for an update:
“Metal Gear Solid is probably the most important franchise to me on the planet. It is such a genius, idiosyncratic work and being able to spend time with [Hideo] Kojima recently has been like a dream. He’s the best and his whole team is the best. We are working on the script. That is a property that I will fight tooth and nail to make sure is done properly because it’s so easy to screw it up and so easy for a studio to try and make it into G.I. Joe or try and make it into Mission: Impossible or try and make it into something that it’s not. Metal Gear Solid needs to be exactly what it needs to be, which is Metal Gear Solid.”
Indeed, as Vogt-Roberts discusses the film his passion for the property becomes perfectly clear. He pointed out that fans might see a taste of his Metal Gear take in Kong: Skull Island, and noted that the video game franchise is unique in that it’s been shepherded by the same creative voice over the course of its lifetime:
“It’s so interesting because unlike a comic book that’s had 40 writers or 100 writers over the course of a decade or two decades or whatever, for decades now Metal Gear Solid has essentially had one voice. So you’re dealing with a highly, highly specific property that’s idiosyncratic to one persona and one person’s point of view and the way in which they interpret sort of culture and Western culture and twist that back around into this super pure amazing property that has a tone that I think is unlike anything else that is out there. I actually think that when people see [Kong] they’ll realize like, ‘Oh tonally there are things that sort of line up with this’ where this can be incredibly serious and dark and intense or it can also be incredibly goofy and kind of take the piss out of itself and be slapstick at times, much like Metal Gear. Luckily there are amazing producers on it, but that’s a property that is so pure and important to my soul, because it’s something that I grew up on, that I would love to shepherd into the film that it needs to be. I think it’d be a massive film, I think it’d be an incredible film, but it needs to be done in a way that completely honors what Metal Gear is because it’s a classic and it’s a seminal work not just in video games, but in media.”
Given that the Metal Gear Solid property revolves around Special Ops, the opportunity to make an R-rated movie is certainly there. But while Vogt-Roberts acknowledges that films like Deadpool and Logan have opened the door to R-rated blockbusters with smaller budgets, he says the Metal Gear Solid movie could go either way:
“I think that for me, I want to make the version of the movie that is most true to what it needs to be, so if that is a Deadpool or Logan route where you go with a smaller budget and you’re able to make it R, great. If you need to blow it out more and really get that bigger budget and go PG-13, I think it could exist in both avenues. There are hyper-violent parts to Metal Gear but I would not necessarily call the hyper-violent part the core element of it versus like the tone and the voice and the philosophies that the characters exhibit. Those characters sort of are these walking philosophies, so I think nailing that part is far more important necessarily than thinking about the rating at this point, because right now we’re just trying to get the best version of it.”
When asked if the uncertainty about the rating has affected the screenwriting process, Vogt-Roberts said that right now he’s simply focused on finding the best way to turn Metal Gear Solid into a movie:
“I think right now the more important thing is let’s nail the voice, let’s nail a story that makes sense. You look at the scope of the Metal Gear world and you go all the way back to the ‘60s and before that in the lore, and then you go to the more contemporary games in the near-future and stuff like that, you’re dealing with decades and decades and decades of characters. You’re dealing with like okay how do Snake and Big Boss interact, how does Zero and all these other people interact with each other? How do you pick and choose the cyborg ninja and the sniper wolf and all these people and have them fit into a narrative that makes sense?”
The filmmaker went on to say that his main goal is making a film that Metal Gear Solid superfans like himself will find satisfying:
“So first and foremost beyond thinking about budget, I wanna find the version that someone like you who’s like a superfan of this property would say, ‘They did it. That’s my Metal Gear. That’s my shit.’ Beyond it being a video game movie, beyond the difference between active experience and passive experience and why people haven’t been able to translate an active experience into a good passive experience in the shape of a film, beyond that question to me it’s not even about being a video game movie, Metal Gear is an important story, an important set of characters. So it just needs to be approached right now from how we nail that, and once we nail that then budget questions will happen, then those things will happen down the road, but right now I’m just working with incredible producers and trying to make a version that you or a Metal Gear megafan would be proud of and where people would be comfortable with that version to say, ‘I know this is different, I know this is not exactly the way a normal movie might go, but this is very Metal Gear’ and that is what will make random Joe Schmoe in Nebraska who has no idea what Metal Gear is, that is what will make them fall in love with this franchise and with Solid Snake and these people, and that is what will make them say—beyond the nerdverse and things like that who already accept this thing as super important—it’s such a potentially massive thing that we’re focused on getting that right first.”
As I said, Vogt-Roberts’ passion for the material is absolutely clear here, so one imagines he won’t be settling for a film adaptation that falls short. Whether that proves to be too risky an approach for the studio or not remains to be seen, but I do hope his version of the film comes to fruition.""