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Lord of the Rings Online Column: Five Possible MMO Movies

By Jon Wood on September 15, 2009

The developers over at Blizzard have been creating and expanding the Warcraft universe and the world of Azeroth since 1994 when they launched their first title, an RTS by the name of Warcraft Orcs and Humans.

Since then, and with the launch of their MMO, Blizzard's franchise has become a worldwide brand, its lore beginning to become as well known as some of the stories that make up classic fantasy canon. As with all things popular from other media, Hollywood has taken an interest and sometime in 2011, we're going to see a Warcraft movie, directed by Spiderman and Xena head man Sam Raimi set about one year prior to the beginning of the MMO.

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Reading what little information exists about this movie gave me an idea for a more relaxed list this week. We've already looked at movies that would make good MMOS, so I figured I'd take the time to count down the five MMOs that I'd like to see made into movies and no, Warcraft won't be on the list. They're already making it.

Let me start at the outset by saying that I write this with the full realization that none of these films are ever likely to be made. I just thought it might be fun to make a list and to see the discussion that it generates. So maybe it would be better to say that these are five MMO movies I could see bundled together in some discount bin at a Blockbuster some day. So, IF Hollywood were to start making MMO movies en masse, these are the five I think most fitting and likely.

#5 City of Heroes

City of Heroes was the first MMO that I really took the time to get to know. I'm not sure why that was exactly, other than the fact that playing a superhero in a world of over-powered do-gooders just appealed to me. It isn't, though, for nostalgia purposes that I put this one on my list. I just think that with the surge in really good superhero-based movies that have been made recently (I'm looking at you, Ironman, X-Men 1&2, The most recent Batmans and hell, I've give 'er up for The Incredibles as well), that an original IP not so bogged down in the mind-warpingly confusing Marvel and DC universes might actually be cool.

You have to assume that any City of Heroes film is going to be based around the exploits of Statesman and the characters that surround him, doing battle with Lord Recluse and the other denizens of The Rogue Isles. While I thought at first that these heroes would probably be, as characters, not a lot to write home about, I actually read a series of CoH comics a while back that impressed me. They honestly weren't that bad and got me more instantly interested and engaged with the characters than the top two companies ahd with any of their more recent books.

The problem is though that any first movie would have to spend at least its first hour introducing its characters and their origin stories, and that's not even counting the time that would have to be spent making sure that everyone understood that these weren't B-List Marvel heroes.

Visuals to look forward to: Hundreds of unique heroes duking it out with their evil counterparts. It's something we haven't seen yet from the powers that be of the superhero movie world... Mass hero combat. It'd be pretty cool.

#4 Lord of the Rings Online

"But Jon," I know is on the tip of your tongue. "Lord of the Rings already was a movie. Three, in fact... And they were good. They won awards and put the fantasy genre on the map. Are you so dunderheaded and addled that you've forgotten this?"

Fear not, gentle readers. I have not lost track of my senses, but there is one important thing to remember: LotRO does NOT tell the story that was told in the trilogy. It tells a whole new tale ripe to be abused and sucked dry for every last penny if The Hobbit does well when it releases in theatres.

You see, we've all seen it before. We've all seen Hollywood go to the well one too many times, beating the dead horse of a franchise until they sucks the last little bit of profit out of it leaving behind only the empty husk and memories of what it once was. This is the vision I have for the story of The Lord of the Rings Online and the silver screen.

So yeah, I suppose I include this one on my list more out of resignation than anything else with the realization that, if any MMO movie is going to follow Warcraft, it's most likely to be this one. Probably as a direct to DVD release. So am I cynical about Hollywood, MMOs, or both? You decide.

Visuals to look forward to: Poorly made up and computer generated versions of races and characters that were done so well in previous movies. The saving grace here though might be that characters would be able to explore the Mines of moria more deeply. Turbine did a great job in fleshing them out visually, it would be nice to see that translated to a live action screen.

Game that should never be movie-ized: Dungeons and Dragons Online

Seriously. Never make this into a movie. Look at my face. Do I look like I'm joking here? Don't. Just don't. I know that I was cynical about Lord of the Rings and the inevitably crappy movie that would result, but that's nothing. That was a joke. A guilty little part of me would watch and enjoy that movie. D&D? Never again.

The Dungeons and Dragons IP has already spawned two films. The second was pretty bad. The first was so painfully terrible, was such a void of anything that even resembled enjoyable that it made me revile Jeremy Irons. At the prospect of what would inevitably be yet another completely mis-handled movie adaptation of the franchise, I say no. Just... no.

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