The trailer for Paramount’s epic movie based on the longstanding (and recently revived thanks to the likes of Stranger Things) Dungeons and Dragons franchise is here! The longest-running and best-known fantasy TTRPG – recently mired in an online furore around its OGL misstep – is making another attempt to reach the big screen. As shows like Halo and The Last Of Us demonstrate, finally, that gaming franchises can translate to great TV shows, what does the latest trailer tell us about the direction of D&D on screen?
Firstly, the ‘bad guy’ (every fantasy film has to have one). There has been much discussion of who it might be, with fans of the abovementioned Stranger Things and the Critical Role series Vox Machina wondering if it would be Vecna. Well now we know – it is not. Although it is another lich (a dark wizard who has become a powerful undead type) by the name of Szass Tam, leader of the Red Wizards of Thay.
Many D&D players will be familiar with the name, and the trailer also reveals some of the other classic creatures that feature. It gives us a glimpse at an Owl Bear, a Mimic and my personal favourite, the Gelatinous Cube (scarier than it sounds).
Amid a pretty impressive cast including Michelle Rodriguez, Daisy Head and Hugh Grant, Chris Pine plays the arguably leading role of Edgin the Bard. The trailer suggests that the film will reflect the reality of most D&D parties. In my experience, nobody ever really has a plan, players fall into all the obvious traps, and there is always one character that positively courts chaos. Some may wonder how a fantasy blockbuster about fighting dragons could also be a comedy, but those people have clearly never awkwardly flirted with one of their friends as he pretends to be a goblin innkeeper.
The transmedia trend
There have been a huge number of Dungeons and Dragons video games released over the life of the franchise, and although this isn’t the first time it has been immortalised in film, there is certainly a big trend for this kind of trans-media content of late. The Last of Us has just been (very successfully) made into a TV series, and Mario has a new slick movie due for release later this year.
There has been a fair amount of controversy in the D&D community recently after Wizards of the Coast attempted to make changes to its terms. The proposed OGL update would have meant that it would effectively own all copyright on content created by the wider community, but after a suitably loud outcry, it seems WotC has backed down on the idea. Doubtless, the movie will bring in new fans from far and wide, boosting game sales as it has for others.
We’re pleased the Dungeons and Dragons trailer is here. You can catch Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves in the UK and Ireland from 31st March 2023