When a video game franchise is around for twenty-five years you know it has to be good, especially if it actually evolves over the years as opposed to staying complacent and giving gamers the same thing over and over again. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, the game which put stealth action on the map before it was the cool thing to do.
First starting in 1987, the Metal Gear franchise has become one of the premier gaming franchises in the industry in such a pivotal way that either Solid Snake or Hideo Kojima could be on a Mount Rushmore of gaming legends if such a thing ever came to be. With each new release of the Metal Gear franchise its popularity has reached a new audience of gamers, who while they may not be familiar with Solid Snake’s early days, can appreciate a sneaking mission whether it’s MGS4 or even one of the prequels such as Peace Walker.
What’s interesting is that despite the very cinematic nature of the Metal Gear series and its massive popularity we’ve never seen a movie based on the franchise come to fruition. Now that may be a good or bad thing to some people, but I think there’s a decent amount out there who wouldn’t mind seeing Solid Snake come to life in a grand live-action movie. So if such a thing were to actually transpire, what would be the perfect cast for a Metal Gear Solid movie?
The interesting thing about a MGS movie is that it’s been attempted at before in the past. With a bidding war for the film rights after the release of MGS 1, Sony Pictures came out on top as the studio to produce a MGS movie in conjunction with Konami. While never entering a phase of production similar to the BioShock movie, in which actual sets were reportedly built, Sony’s MGS project only had a screenwriter attached and ultimately never came to be due to creative issues. It's unknown whether or not it was because Konami and Hideo Kojima weren’t pleased with things as Sony may have wanted a an easy going action movie in the vein of the Total Recall remake or Resident Evil.
While no actual news has come to pass which points to a MGS movie being resurrected, I thought it would be fun to make a few picks on who would be the best to bring the characters of Metal Gear to life and which creative talent would be the best to adapt the vision and story created by the legendary Hideo Kojima.
Director – Duncan Jones
The world of Metal Gear Solid has been crafted for twenty-five years by Hideo Kojima and the talented staffers at Kojima Productions. With such a long period of time dedicated to one series, Kojima has put his unique stamp on Metal Gear which has subsequently changed the way the video game industry does things. So how would a Metal Gear movie move forward without Kojima at the helm?
In the world of Hollywood there are talented directors but very few of them are either capable of elevating material they’re given or simply create something so amazing that it surpasses what we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps choosing a director with an action basis would be the likely thing to do for something such as Metal Gear Solid, but it would be better for a director with a keen eye to be selected, the perfect candidate I feel would be Duncan Jones.
Since making his theatrical debut in the sci-fi drama “Moon”, Duncan has garnered a lot of buzz since his talent is more than apparent and he knows how to squeeze every last penny out of a budget. Since releasing the thriller “Source Code” Duncan has stayed low developing projects, such as one with heavy Blade Runner influences, but I think he has the creative knack and eye for dramatic action which would give a MGS movie the boost it needs to match and perhaps exceed what we’ve seen from Kojima and company over the last few years.
Writer – David Hayter
Adapting something as grandiose and complex as Metal Gear Solid likely wouldn’t be easy at all. With things such as the general tone needing to be figured out (should it be played out as an action-drama or a drama with action elements?), the other all important element of a film adaptation of MGS would be where and when the film would be set. It would make sense to start the introductory saga with MGS1 since it’s something people to relate to in these hectic times, but on top of that what sort of liberties should be taken adapting certain characters in a cinematic setting?
The most obvious choice to write a MGS movie would be David Hayter. Maybe having Kojima at the helm would be the dream scenario, but having written films such as “X-Men” and “Watchmen” David knows how to cram a lot of stuff into a two hour movie without it feeling too truncated. Also, one would have to imagine that working with and being a friend of Hideo Kojima for the past fifteen years would likely be the best possible scenario since Hayter knows the ins and outs of the decades spanning tale of the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Hayter would be a welcomed addition to the creative roster of Metal Gear Solid as the project would be better protected under his creative guise rather than Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Total Recall), who was rumored to be attached to the project while it was in production at Sony Pictures.
Luke Evans as Solid Snake
The character of Solid Snake is one that in some ways has become synomnous with gaming. The early days of Solid Snake may not have been as complex but they certainly did grow to be such a thing when Hideo Kojima returned to the wary soldier in Metal Gear Solid. Far from being a complete archetypical character, Solid Snake is a skilled soldier but he’s also a man that has a conscious and understands the various levels war has – even if they don’t take place on the actual battlefield. With those traits in mind, British actor Luke Evans would likely be the perfect actor to portray Solid Snake if a MGS movie ever became a reality.
A relatively veteran actor, Luke Evans’ star has been rising as of late thanks to high profile roles in films such as ”Immortals” in which he played Zeus, “The Hobbit”, and his forthcoming stint as the main villain in the sixth installment of the “The Fast & The Furious” franchise. Luke may not be the most obvious choice to play Solid Snake as some out there would say that Christian Bale would be a better option, even if there was the potential he would use his overly raspy Batman voice to match the tambour made famous by David Hayter.
The thing about Luke is that he’s simply a talented actor that can both bring a level of believable physicality to his roles yet having a level of substance to it that makes it more than just a case of a handsome dude kicking ass. If Luke can provide a performance as Zeus that’s subtle in its glints of emotion and outright anger then I’m sure he’ll pull off Solid Snake in a way that honors the character whose history and very existence is complicated. Even more, I think Luke is one of the few actors out there that could rock the bandana + quasi-mullet look without making it look silly as hell.
Matthew Goode as Liquid Snake
Adapting the presumed villain that is Liquid Snake into a live-action MGS film would be a tough task for a few reasons. First off, it may not be the ideal thing amongst the MGS fanbase, but a slight amount of adjusting would have to be done to Liquid and the MGS lore to alter the fact that Solid and Liquid are supposed to be identical twins with few minor physical differences. In this era of advanced CG it would be possible to do a digital double (TRON: Legacy style) or simply have some practical or computer effects trickery to make one actor play both Solid and Liquid, but in the end it may feel far too gimmicky and be costly from a production standpoint. But on top of that dilemma, finding an actor to convey the strong conviction and unique character of Liquid would be the more challenging task.
In a perfect world it would be awesome if Sean Bean could assume the role of Liquid Snake but seeing as how he’s a bit older now it would be odd to see him play a character in his 30s. But an equally good actor that would be able to do the role of Liquid justice is Matthew Goode. Perhaps best known for playing Ozymandias in the film version of “Watchmen”, Matthew is a character actor that can hop to projects in which he plays a would-be world savior, a love interest for a Mandy Moore rom-com, or a mid-20th century reporter in a traditional British drama. So while he may not be an actor that has a long list of films to his name or is known for playing a villain that was one for the ages, I think he has what it takes to play Liquid.
The film version of Watchmen may not have pleased the core fans of the graphic novel, but the performance Goode turned in was definitely one of the highlights of the film along with the stunning performances of Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. With Liquid Snake there needs to be a certain egoistical and dominant feel since the character is on a mission of an almost virtuous nature that ultimately changes things forever. Also, just like Solid Snake, Liquid is an adept soldier given him having the genes of Big Boss so there’s a believability that needs to be found in the character on the physical side of things and I think Matthew has what it takes to represent that as well.
Michael Sheen as Revolver Ocelot
Right off the bat Revolver Ocelot is one of the few characters that needs to be an instant badass in a MGS movie. While he likely wouldn’t serve as the chief villain in the first MGS movie, his role would likely be increased if the sequels would follow the previous MGS games leading up to a grand finale in which it may be an old man vs. old man fist fight atop a massive sea vessel that has a Mount Snake monument on it. Ok, so while one would hope that some liberties may be taken with elements of the MGS lore in a live-action movie, Revolver Ocelot still needs to be a formidable opponent and I think Michael Sheen would be a perfect choice.
We all know Michael for playing a wide range of characters ranging from films such as “Underworld”, “Frost/Nixon”, and a shady program in “TRON: Legacy”. No matter what the role or project is Michael completely sinks himself into the character and even if the writing is middling we always get a standout performance that sometimes elevates a mostly mediocre film, as he did so brilliantly in “Twilight: New Moon”. So while Michael may not be a slightly muscle bound Russian, he’ll no doubt give us an authentic Russian accent and look as slick as he can in a long brown coat wielding dual revolvers.
Anything that Michael Sheen portrays is gold so the prospect of him playing Revolver Ocelot could be one of those rare occurrences in which we see an actor play a role so good that it seems like he was born to play it.
Rachel McAdams as Meryl Silverburgh
There aren’t a lot of strong female characters in the world of video games, but Hideo Kojima did change that a bit by creating Meryl Silverburgh. A rookie soldier, Meryl may not have the veteran skills of Solid Snake but in the end she becomes a confident soldier that ultimately leads the Rat Patrol 01 unit.
In a film adaptation of MGS there’s the potential for Meryl to be changed to a cliché damsel in distress or even worse to become an obvious love interest for Snake instead of being someone he grows to care for in a non-romantic way. I would personally hope that creative liberties aren’t taken with Meryl, but even if they are I think Rachel McAdams would do an excellent job at representing the strengths of Meryl.
Those out there probably only know Rachel for the half dozen romantic comedies/dramas she’s done such as “The Notebook”, which if I may add is a film that would likely have Solid Snake crying at the end since it’s so damn emotional.
Cillian Murphy as Hal “Otacon” Emmerich
The role of Otacon is an important one not only because of the relationship he has with Solid Snake, but because he’s easily the one character in the movie that viewers can relate to. With a plot featuring clones, cyborg ninjas, and other such fantastical elements there needs to be something that casual audiences can attach themselves emotionally to and that character is easily Octacon. Putting such a heavy burden on the shoulders of an actor may sound like a bit much, but I think Cillian Murphy would more than be up for the task.
A dramatic actor that also doesn’t mind doing genre fair, Cillian somewhat resembles Otacon and I think he would be able to hit many of the emotional notes and character traits that made the character so memorable amongst gamers. CIllian can be profoundly intense in his roles, as evident by his performance in “28 Days Later” and even “Batman Begins” but he also knows how to make his characters seem grounded and relatable.
With his skills as an actor and his lack of fear for jumping into projects deeply rooted in a specific genre, Cillian would be a perfect Otacon and could very well steal the show from his co-stars.
Alex Pettyfer as Raiden
If there’s one character that fans have constant debates about it has to be Raiden. After being unveiled in a twist fashion which cemented Hideo Kojima as being a master troll/prankster of unimaginable proportions, Raiden immediately became a love him or hate him character. His appearance in MGS2 may have deserved criticism as he was introduced in a way that basically amounted to Batman playing second fiddle in a movie about him… oh wait that happened already.
Post MGS2 Raiden bounced back a bit in the eyes of Metal Gear fans since he was a bonafide cyborg ninja badass. But even then certain elements of Raiden’s character were tough to swallow for fans since it was odd to see another key protagonist besides Solid Snake. If a Metal Gear movie were to happen it would be expected for Raiden to make an appearance, either in a sequel or even the debut film if major story liberties were taken. If such a thing were to transpire I think British actor Alex Pettyfer would be suitable to portray the ever traumatized warrior that is Raiden.
A bit of a pretty boy by Hollywood standards, Alex almost perfectly embodies what Raiden is. He’s young and a bit too pretty for his own good but deep inside he’s a bit of a mess. Alex may not be known amongst gamers for any of his roles, that’s unless you saw “Magic Mike” this Summer, but he fits the general look of Raiden and can likely be believable as a man that was reared on the battlefield. Seeing Alex in the role of Raiden may be a tough sell given the history the character has amongst fans, but in the end I think gamers would grow to like Raiden in a live-action setting – even if he isn’t based on his ultra-violent Metal Gear Rising iteration.
Kurt Russell as Col. Campbell
When it comes to the role of Col. Campbell you need to have someone who can have that authorative tone but at the same time portray the human elements of the character through his relationship with Meryl and being one of the only friends Solid Snake has. The only piece of stunt casting I made amongst my choices, I feel that veteran actor Kurt Russell would do a tremendous job at portraying the forever patriotic soldier that is Col. Campbell.
Kurt may seem like he would be a bit of a stretch for Campbell seeing as how the two don’t look like one another, but Kurt is a complete badass. Seriously, I think that’s all that needs to be said on that matter along with that he’s an actor that’s good at his craft. For the past few years Kurt may have been in semi-retirement outside of an appearance here and there, but I feel that he would do a tremendous job as Col. Campbell, especially if he goes with the slick buzz cut he had in the flick “Soldier”.
Having Kurt be part of a MGS movie would provide a much needed anchor for audiences who are perhaps unfamiliar with the series since most people enjoy Kurt thanks to his past performances. The addition of Kurt in the cast and in the role of Col. Campbell would also serve as a nice inside joke of sorts seeing as how the character of Snake Plisken from “Escape From New York”, which Kurt is known the most for, partly inspired Hideo Kojima in the creation of Solid Snake. For that inside nod alone I think Kurt would be perfect as Col. Campbell since he’s probably one of the more underrated actors in the biz.
Emily Blunt as Sniper Wolf
If a MGS movie opts to go for a complete adaption of MGS1 then it would make sense for Liquid’s FOX Hound group to make an appearance, even if it comes across as boss battles brought to life in cinematic form. Given how Sniper Wolf plays heavily into the growth Meryl Silverburgh has as a person, it would make sense for the lone female sniper to appear in the film, even if it amounts to a small cameo.
Over the years British actress Emily Blunt has shown she has a knack for portraying drama well in films such as “My Summer of Love”, but I think she would be believable as the ill-fated Sniper Wolf, not just because her beauty matches that of Yoji Shinkawa’s drawing but because she’ll bring the proper tone to accurately depict such a flawed yet likeable character.
Gary Oldman as Pyscho Mantis
Easily providing one of the most memorable moments in MGS1, it may be hard to properly convey the crazed masked psychic in a film adaptation. Sure, special effects magic will make it possible for Psycho Mantis to levitate and use furniture as weapons, but who would be the best to accurately depict the crazed Russian that torments Solid Snake? It may sound like a bit of a stretch, but I think Gary Oldman would be an interesting Psycho Mantis.
Far from mirroring the lanky if not emaciated frame of Psycho Mantis, an actor’s job to sink themselves into the role no matter what and that’s what Gary does in every performance. It may be required for Gary to merely to voice Psycho Mantis or perhaps portray his movements through performance capture, but even then I think Gary would be able to match the chilling performance made famous by actor Doug Stone in MGS1.
Rebecca Hall as Naomi Hunter
It could be possible for the role of Naomi to be scrapped in favor of story editing, but if she were to make the cut it would allow for some much needed exposition to be made as well as provide another character for Solid Snake to flirt with since movie audiences eat that stuff up.
Even if Naomi were to play second fiddle more or less in the overall plot of a MGS movie, I think actress Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Iron Man 3) would provide the required tone to make Naomi come across as a strong doctor while being a bit insecure if not afraid of certain things. Naomi’s inclusion in a MGS movie may play a bigger part if sequels were to be made, but it would be nice to have her included right off the bat just to set the framework for the series from the get go.
Dwayne Johnson as Vulcan Raven
Again, a mere addition if the film were to go the 1:1 accurate route, Vulcan Raven would likely serve merely to provide a cool action sequence as his character isn’t deeply attached to any of the major MGS lore.
An appearance by the giant mini-gun wielding Inuit would probably result in fans flipping out since despite his minimal time in MGS1 he proved to be entertaining whenever he appeared. Based on how the proportions of Vulcan Raven are so over-the-top I think that Dwayne Johnson and his comic book chiseled body would be right on the money to portray Vulcan Raven.
Dwayne may not have had the best history with video game films since his appearance in “Doom” was just ok, but Dwayne fits the look of Vulcan Raven and would likely be able to provide us with a performance we wouldn’t forget.
It's anyone guess at this point whether we'll ever see a MGS movie surface, presented to us in either live-action or through CG. As a fan of a series I wouldn't mind such a thing as long as care and respect is put into the project; a thing which sadly seems to be devoid in most movies based upon video games.
If anyone out there would like to share casting choices for a MGS movie then feel free to post a comment here or on our Facebook page.