Did you know that there was actually a Metroid movie in the works at one point? The film was to be handled by Tiger Hill and directed by John Woo, who worked on Mission: Impossible II, but was scrapped in 2007. Why did it stall? It has a lot to do with Nintendo not being ready to introduce a number of the ideas that would have been necessary for bringing the franchise to the big screen.
IGN brought the process to light via an interview with the film’s producer, Brad Foxhoven, which gives us a lot of insight into what happened with the project. Hop inside for a look at what went sour.
At first, they wanted to embark on bringing Metroid more in line with up-to-date depictions of sci-fi. Originally it had been very heavily embedded in sci-fi traditions, so it seemed to make sense to work the movie as an update to that original vision:
We knew that a lot of the Metroid mythology had many similarities to other well-known science fiction franchises, so we had to try and propose some fresh ideas that Nintendo would approve. We also knew that the characters were originally developed many years ago, when game systems were limited in their graphics and animation. These same designs needed to be updated, particularly when seen as a live-action representation.
In the end, those updates would have to include looks at the character of Samus outside the suit – and Nintendo wasn’t quite ready to let go of the character and give up that side of her development to a Hollywood production studio. If Samus’s character development was going to come from anywhere, it was going to be from inside Nintendo:
The challenge for us was that it felt that the biggest lesson Nintendo learned from Mario [the movie] was to hold onto their rights even tighter, limiting collaboration when it came to translating Metroid to the big screen. Our entire development time was spent exploring the Metroid world, and what we could – and couldn’t – do within it.
Things started to go south when we tried to dig into the character a bit more. As you know, any film needs a deeper story arc than what is told in the game, where we learn about the characters and their world. What are they doing when they are NOT fighting? What is their daily existence and relationships? What are Samus’s aspirations, history, and fears? Nintendo appreciated the questions, but had never thought about them before, and ultimately didn’t have a lot of answers. In the end, they felt uncomfortable with our team being the ones to propose those answers.
I know for Nintendo, they walked away appreciating the process and how much further they needed to explore the franchise so that it has a chance for a feature film at some point. I still believe there is a chance. There are quite a few Hollywood executives in town who grew up playing Metroid, and who would be willing to take the time needed to bring Nintendo along in the process.
After giving a more cinematic glimpse at Samus’s character in Other M, the franchise almost could have made the leap back to the silver screen – but with the negative reception of the game, I think it’s unlikely that we’ll see Nintendo try to repeat that kind of approach in future installments for the series, much less a live-action film.