Although there are many films or TV series that have original stories written specifically to be put on screen, it seems that every other film in the cinema or binge-worthy box set is based on pre-existing material and adapted for the visual arts. Everything has been done, from dramatised movies about famous musicians, political scandals and battles, to beloved book series, video games and uplifting (or sometimes heart-breaking) tales of real people’s lives being given the small screen treatment. Sometimes it can feel like there is nothing left to adapt. Well, there is plenty still to do and here I am going to be detailing five in particular that are absolutely crying out to be put on screen.
There are obviously way more than just five adaptations that can be made, many are just as worthy of shortlisting as my final five. However, there’s no reason for me not to just throw a few alternatives out there.
I am a big Star Wars fan, and one character that has always fascinated me is Qui-Gon Jinn, the mentor of fan favourite, Obi-Wan. Perhaps with Disney+ offering us fantastic exclusive shows, there is the potential for him to have his own.
Although I am not personally a gamer, many video games have just as (if not more in some cases) backstory to explore than a large book series. After consulting with my fellow FinalBoss cult members, The Legend of Zelda and God of War were put forward to me as games with great backstories, along with another included in the five finalists to follow. Zelda follows the elf-like characters, Link and Zelda, as they get embroiled in adventures surrounding the Triforce, a powerful artefact left by the three golden goddesses. The God of War franchise tells the story of the warrior Kratos and has storylines stretching through both Greek and Norse mythology, both of which have their fair share of satisfying action and adventure.
Although maybe not very well known, the book series The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is also fantastic and should definitely be given the cinema treatment. It follows the story of Rin, who lives in a China-like fantasy world that is about as grimdark (dark, gritty, realistic, and violent) as fantasy gets. Rin struggles with prejudice, learning to use her shamanistic powers that come from a powerful verity of gods, and the threat of war from the cruel Federation of Mugen.
Now that we have the honourable mentions out of the way, let’s dive straight into the main course…
5. Gears of War
Gears of War is a game franchise created by Epic Games. It follows humanity’s struggle to survive against the menacing Locust horde who have emerged from beneath the surface of Sera, a world ravaged by war, politics, and economics. The Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COG, battle for the survival of their people against all the odds. With six games, five novels and a comic book series, there is plenty of scope to adapt Gears of War into a film/TV franchise.
4. Dave Grohl
Not exactly a property but I really wanted to include a real-life event or person in this list, so it’s not all just fantasy and sci-fi. I landed on the current trend of biopics about musicians, like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman and Straight Outta Compton. Oasis was then firmly in the list, but I then realised we don’t have the dream ending for the film, a reunion of the Gallagher brothers. So, in the end, I settled on the legend that is Dave Grohl.
Just how does a kid with no formal lessons, who learnt to play the drums by whacking pillows on his bed, become the supremely talented drummer in one of the greatest bands of all time, Nirvana? Then, after the tragic death of Nirvana’s lead singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain, how does he rebuild his music career to create and become the frontman of one of the only chart-topping rock bands of today, the Foo Fighters? From feuding with Kurt’s wife, Courtney Love, to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the story has more than enough drama to make a film.
3. The First Law Trilogy
Perhaps not a familiar trilogy too many, The First Law is an (often dark but also hysterically funny) fantasy book series by Joe Abercrombie. The Union is heading to war with both the Northman and the Gurkish Empire in the south, but there are powers at play bigger than the doings of politicians and soldiers. Magic is fading but Demons still rage on “the other side”, the Eaters (people who can absorb power through eating human flesh) are abroad and Bayaz, the First of the Magi, sets in motion his plans to keep the union he helped form on top.
Although the story is really excellent, it is the characters that make this series something special. Anybody who has read the series will say that Glotka, a crippled Inquisitor who works for King’s Inquisition, is one of their favourite characters of all time. The dastardly, drunken and flamboyant soldier of fortune, Nicomo Cosca, is also one of my favourite characters and pops up from time to time in the series. In a recent interview, Joe Abercrombie heavily hinted that there are at least talks and “stuff going on” with regards to adaptations of his works, so hopefully it won’t be long before we see the trilogy, the stand-alone novels and perhaps the new follow on series, The Age of Madness Trilogy on screen.
Games Workshop has created an absolutely enormous amount of background for their various tabletop wargames that they sell and I am shocked that one of the big production companies has not created much in the way of TV or cinema in the Warhammer worlds. Now, I will confess, there was a movie (that nobody saw) in 2010 called Ultramarines but the vast body of Games Workshop’s work is completely unexplored. Their publishing company, Black Library, has over 200 titles and every rulebook Games Workshop have released is stuffed with history.
Games Workshop has created three “worlds” for their games, the first is Warhammer 40,000, which is a sci-fi galaxy in constant war. The Imperium of Man fights people who have fallen to the evil intentions of the Chaos gods and a myriad of different alien races in a grimdark future, where there is only war. The Horus Heresy is a particularly good series that details how civil war formed the current state of the Warhammer 40,000 galaxy.
The Warhammer world is Games Workshop’s fantasy setting, with all the typical elves, goblins, dwarves and dragons you’d come to expect. It’s a gritty world and Games Workshop took the brave (and controversial at the time) decision to completely destroy the world in a series of game supplements called the End Times. This cataclysm created the third of Games Workshop’s worlds, the Mortal realms, which are a variety of realms that embody eight forms of magic. This is the setting for the tabletop game, Age of Sigmar.
Of all the Warhammer fantasy works, I think Gotrek and Felix is most worthy of adapting. It’s the story of a doomed Dwarven Slayer and his poet sidekick, as Gotrek the slayer seeks a glorious death battling the world’s deadliest monsters. They get caught in many of the events in the Warhammer World and I think this series would make a perfect Witcher style TV series.
1. Quenta Silmarillion and Other Lord of the Rings Stories
The Quenta Silmarillion is the main bulk of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, The Silmarillion and details the historical and legendary events that lead up to The Lord of the Rings. A good way of thinking about it is it’s like the Bible of Middle Earth, with creation and individual stories of grand heroics. The main story of the Quenta Silmarillion is the creation of the dazzling gems, the Silmarilli, their capture by the Morgoroth (Sauron’s old boss) and Fëanor’s (the jewel’s creator) mission with his kindred to get them back. It would be very difficult to conceptualise and contain all that happens in a series or movie though and the Tolkien Estate would be very unlikely to allow it to be made anytime soon. But we can at least dream of the tragic children of Húrin, the love of Beren and Lúthien and the seismic repercussion of the Fall of Gondolin being onscreen in the future.
We have news that Amazon is developing a Lord of the Rings TV series for Prime Video. This show is going to mostly detail events in the second age. We’ll get the rise and fall of Númenor and Sauron’s defeat by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, which is detailed in the Akallabêth section of The Silmarillion and the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings isn’t completely drained of all stories to tell though, as the War of the Ring was thought on many fronts, only one being followed in the main story arc. In the North, as Gondor and Rohan battle the host of Mordor, the Dwarves of Erebor and Men of Dale are locked in a bitter conflict with the Easterlings. In Lothlórien and Mirkwood, the Elves fight the Orcs of Dol Guldur and Galadriel, Celeborn and Thranduil show off just how badass they can be.
Well, they are my top picks for adaptation into TV or cinema but I’m sure there is plenty I have left out. So, what are your picks? Is there a war story that you’d love to see on the big screen, is your favourite game series missing a big-budget TV show or have you just read a book that you’d love to see adapted? Let us know in the comments or via our social channels. There is so much to choose from and there will only be more with time.
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Avid fan of many geeky exploits, Callum likes to delve deep into the lore of fantasy and sci-fi, including The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and many more.