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Bill Murphy: How the Warcraft Movie is finding the Soul of the Warcraft Universe

By William Murphy on November 07, 2015 | Previews | Comments

How the Warcraft Movie is finding the Soul of the Warcraft Universe

Late Wednesday I got an email invite from Blizzard’s PR about a special press conference with the cast and crew of the Warcraft movie. Since the trailer premiered at the show, the cast and director were on hand, and it was as good a time as any to chat with the actors about their characters, their ties to Warcraft itself, and the process of making an effects heavy film.  Most importantly, they spoke to the soul of the film and the heart that makes Warcraft such a powerful story to so many people.

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Duncan Jones, Tobey Kebbell, Chris Metzen, Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, and Paula Patton were hosted by the Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick. They showed us the trailer again and got right into the discussion.

Duncan Jones is the Director of the film (Moon, Source Code). Tobey Kebbell plays Durotan. Chris Metzen is well, Chris Metzen. Dominic Cooper plays King Llane Wrynn. Ben Foster plays the mage Medivh, Clancy Brown plays Blackhand. Daniel Wu plays Gul’dan, and Paula Patton plays Garona.

Garona Halforcen, as Duncan Jones put it, is kind of the tie that binds the whole movie together. As the only known daughter of an orc and a human (not a Draenei as the original lore declares), she’s the literal tie that binds both the Alliance and Horde together as well.  These two sides of an ever-surging battle have more in common than they think, and that’s the sort of lesson the viewers know throughout the whole movie… but have to watch and hope the Horde and Alliance figure it out soon enough to stop the real threats.

Warcraft is going to retell, possibly even retcon, the story of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans --- the game that began it all. As Chris Metzen put it, storytelling back when Orcs & Humans came out was crude. You could just put a text window up between missions. He admitted with a laugh that even WoW has done some silly things to the lore over the years. This movie, more than even the books, is a way to sort of redeem the founding story of Warcraft and give it the gravitas it needs. Does this mean there won’t be humor? Absolutely not… just don’t expect too much of it. The core of this story is still about the Orcs fleeing their dying world and seeking refuge in Azeroth.

Daniel Wu put the notion of playing a character that’s fully mo-capped best. It’s like they’re playing a game in a way, putting life into characters by using their face and body to create this character. His own wife plays WoW, and he asked her a lot of questions about the lore and the world leading into playing a big-bad like Gul’Dan.  This is in stark contrast to Dominic Cooper, Ben Foster, Paula Patton, and the others who aren’t WoW players. But as soon as they were tapped for the parts, they did geek out with Duncan who’s been playing Warcraft since the original. He gave them tomes of knowledge on their character and the universe to immerse themselves in. 

The Orcs want a new home. They want to stop Gul’Dan and they’re willing to fight to the death to protect their families and their clans. And yes, that little baby orc in the trailer is Baby Thrall. I’m a bit worried that the true heroes of the movie will wind up the Orcs, with the Humans being the “bad guys”. But I suspect that feeling won’t last. It’s clear that both Gul’Dan and Medivh are the far extremes of the two sides, and it’ll be their characters who become the antagonists for either side.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.