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A Roundtable of Characters From Movies Based on Video Games

The new Lara Croft joins a meeting with Luigi, Agent 47, Raiden, and more to discuss why film adaptations of video games get no respect

INT. — THE RICKETY OLD BOAT THAT THEY RIDE IN ON THE WAY TO THE ISLAND IN 1995’s MORTAL KOMBAT — EVENING

A handful of characters from movies based on video games are milling about in a cabin. Some of them are standing, others are sitting. It’s clear, though, that they’re all waiting for a meeting to start. In attendance:

  • Lara Croft (played by Alicia Vikander) from 2018’s Tomb Raider
  • Raiden (played by Christopher Lambert) from 1995’s Mortal Kombat
  • Guile (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) from 1994’s Street Fighter
  • Dastan (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
  • Agent 47 (played by Timothy Olyphant) from 2007’s Hitman
  • Luigi (played by John Leguizamo) from 1993’s Super Mario Bros.
  • Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) from 2002’s Resident Evil
  • Sarge (played by the Rock) from 2005’s Doom
  • Tobey (played by Aaron Paul) from 2014’s Need for Speed
  • Katarin (played by Michelle Rodriguez) from 2006’s BloodRayne

Finally, after a moment, Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider walks in. She’s the leader, and so the meeting starts.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Hello, everyone. Glad you all could make it to this month’s Assembly of Characters From Movies Based on Video Games council meeting. We have some big news today …

[She points toward Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider, who smiles, then waves almost sheepishly.]

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Today will be my last meeting here with the ACFMBVG council.

Luigi from 1993’s Super Mario Bros.: We really need a new acronym. That one is so bad. Every time someone says it I have to run through it in my head to make sure all the letters match up correctly.

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Ha. I do the same thing at the GoPWLPoPSoT meetings.

Agent 47 from 2007’s Hitman: What’s that?

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Huh? Oh, it’s the Gathering of People Who Liked Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

Agent 47 from 2007’s Hitman: Are there … a lot of people in that?

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: At the moment, no. It’s just me. But the movie is only eight years old. It hasn’t had a chance to really grab hold yet.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Can you all focus please? As I was saying, today is my last meeting here with the ACFMBVG council. We are inducting a new member, who will be replacing me: Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider.

[Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider waves at everyone again. Some clap, others don’t.]

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: Why do you have to get replaced? I still don’t really understand.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: It’s just the rules. They’re making a new Lara Croft movie, so that means there’s a new Lara Croft, which that means she gets my spot.

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: What about when they made the Mortal Kombat 2 movie and had a new Raiden in it? We didn’t make Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat get replaced by the new Raiden.

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Aye, man. What the fuck? I’m minding my own business here.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: I don’t know. The rules are the rules.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: I … I really don’t want to be any trouble to anyone. I honestly still don’t even really know what this council is, let alone why I’m a part of it now.

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: It’s simple: It’s a monthly gathering where characters from a few of the more well-established movies based on video games get together to discuss things related to movies based on video games. You might’ve heard about the one they do with the sharks from the different shark movies. We got the idea from them. It’s just good to be with like-minded people every so often, is all.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: Correct. We talk about things related to movies based on video games, and also we spend a fair amount of time making fun of Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed for looking so much like the guy from that TV show Breaking Bad.

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: [Shakes his head.]

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: We stay with a cast of 10 or so characters. Occasionally, someone will leave or be forced out, but that hasn’t happened too often, which is why everyone is so keyed up today.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: Who was the last person to get kicked out?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Max Payne from 2008’s Max Payne.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: Really? Why? Did they make a new Max Payne movie?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: No. He was just an asshole.

Agent 47 from 2007’s Hitman: With his turtlenecks and leather jackets.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: YES THANK YOU WHY WAS HE ALWAYS WEARING A TURTLENECK?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: We replaced him with Sarge from 2005’s Doom. He’s so much nicer.

[Sarge from 2005’s Doom touches his his index finger to his forehead as a kind of hello salute.]

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Hey. Everyone. Again: Can you all please focus? I don’t wanna be here all night again like last time.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: Last time?

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Ugh. It was this whole thing. We were having a regular meeting and then someone — I think it was Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil — brought up the time I punched a shark in the face, and so then the meeting turned into this thing about whether or not it was real, and of course it was real but they were all saying it was fake. So then we had to find a shark. Then I had to punch it. It was so dumb.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: You punched a shark? Like, in the face?

Luigi from 1993’s Super Mario Bros.: Wait, have you not seen that scene?

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: No.

Luigi from 1993’s Super Mario Bros.: It’s incredible. She’s chasing some bad guys. The bad guys have Jet Skis. They ride away, but before they do they shoot Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’s scuba gear so that it doesn’t work anymore. She takes out a knife, cuts her arm, goes underwater, flexes her arm a few times to make it bleed a lot, a shark comes swimming up to her to bite her, she punches the shark in the face, and then when he tries to swim off she grabs ahold of his fin and fucking uses him like how Marty McFly held onto the back of the truck when he was skateboarding away from the bullies in Back to the Future.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: Wow.

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: Honestly, the most impressive part for me was that she opened her eyes in salt water.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: [To Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed.] Honestly, the most impressive part for me was that you were able to escape from the Nazis, because I thought you were gonna be cooking meth for them forever.

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: Goddamnit.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: OK, but for real. Since this is my last ACFMBVG meeting I want to talk about the thing I’ve been trying to get us to talk about since what feels like forever.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: The time Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed and his friend Walter used a giant magnet to defeat the Albuquerque Police Department?

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: You gotta stop.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: I want to talk about what we can do to make movies based on video games that are actually and legitimately good, and not movies based on video games that are … you know

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: That have Raul Julia playing M. Bison?

Sarge from 2005’s Doom: Don’t do that.

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: I’m just saying, man. M. Bison was a big hunk of meat in the Street Fighter video game. Having Raul Julia play M. Bison in the Street Fighter movie is like if we had Chris Rock play Shaq in a movie.

Sarge from 2005’s Doom: You can’t make fun of Raul Julia.

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Why?

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: Because I’ll fucking sonic-boom you across the chin, is why.

Agent 47 from 2007’s Hitman: Raul passed away.

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: … Did he really?

Agent 47 from 2007’s Hitman: Yes. Street Fighter was actually the last movie he was ever in.

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: I honestly did not know that. Apologies, Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Sucky, is what I was implying. Movies based on video games have, by and large, been seen as sucky things. There’s never been a video-game movie that was critically good. There have been plenty that were fun to watch, sure. But none had people leaving the theater saying, “That was a good movie.” Like, what’s the Good Will Hunting of video-game movies?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Wait. So we’re just gonna act like none of us saw Se7en? That movie was so good, and it was based on a video game.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: No, it wasn’t.

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Yes, it was.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: Se7en? With Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Yes. That’s it.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: Please tell me what video game Se7en was based on?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Wasn’t it … [a little unsure of herself because now everyone is looking at her] wasn’t it Super Mario Bros.?

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: You think … Se7en … was based … on Super Mario Bros.?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Morgan Freeman is Mario. Brad Pitt is Luigi. Gwyneth Paltrow is the Princess. Right?

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: Gwyneth Paltrow is the Princess?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Yes.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: So you think that at some point in the Super Mario Bros. video game the Princess gets her head cut off and mailed to Mario?

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: Well, I mean, I’ve never actually played Super Mario Bros., so who’s to say?

Luigi from 1993’s Super Mario Bros.: Me. I’m to say.

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: There actually is a movie based on Super Mario Bros.

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: I knew it!

Tobey from 2014’s Need for Speed: Yes. It’s called Super Mario Bros..

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Maybe a way to get people to take our movies more seriously is we should do something grittier. Mostly our movies are kind of cartoonish and friendly. We need a movie like when Ryan Gosling played that teacher who was freebasing cocaine.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: I’m not so sure there’s anything more gritty than Pyramid Head.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: What’s Pyramid Head?

Sarge from 2005’s Doom: Not “what.” “Who.” He’s a guy from Silent Hill, which is this other video game that they turned into a movie. And let me tell you something: You do not want to fucking hang out with him. He does this thing where you could all be out having a good time and he’ll just pick someone up and then rip the skin off their body. It’s terrible. It makes a big mess. I remember one time I was like, “Hey, Pyramid Head. We’re a player short for our softball league game tonight. You wanna play?” He was like, “Yeah, of course. I love softball.” He maybe made it two innings into the game before he tore someone’s skin off. There’s actually a clip of him doing it on the internet somewhere — not of the softball player, but of some other person.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: [Tapping on her phone, then holding it up for Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider to see.] Right here:

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: OH MY GOD.

Alice from 2002’s Resident Evil: The thing that I don’t get is why the two women were more upset about Pyramid Head yanking the woman’s clothes off than they were about him yanking her skin off.

Sarge from 2005’s Doom: It does get a bit old after a while. He’s all “blah blah blah I’m ripping someone’s skin off,” and it’s just like, “OK, I’ve seen this already.”

Dastan from 2010’s Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: This is gonna sound like a weird question, but: How bad do you think Pyramid Head is at masturbating? Like, do you think there was a time when he was a Teenage Pyramid Head when he accidentally yanked all the skin off his own di — 

Sarge from 2005’s Doom: [Interrupting.] That’s quite enough, thank you.

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: This whole thing is a dumb conversation, and if not a dumb one then at least an unnecessary one.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: I don’t know how this whole thing went from talking about making better video-game movies to talking about Pyramid Head masturbating.

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: That’s not what I mean. Or, rather, I guess kind of it is, but really I was talking about the making good video-game movies part. I think that’s wrong. I think we’re heading in the wrong direction there.

Katarin from 2006’s Bloodrayne: What do you mean?

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Well … it’s just like … OK, think on it like this: When someone plays Mortal Kombat, they’re doing so because they want, even if for just a couple minutes, to pretend to be a demon ninja warrior with a spear hidden inside his hand who performs fatalities and whatnot. That’s what the game gives them. Nobody’s playing Mortal Kombat so they can go on some long quest where they have to find a Great Fairy like in Zelda or so they can spray ink all over the floors of an obstacle course like in Splatoon 2.

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: I never understood the appeal of fatalities.

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Well, I never understood why you have an American flag tattoo on your arm and a European accent coming out of your mouth, so I guess we’re both confused.

Lara Croft from 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: [To Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat.] Can you please continue what you were saying?

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Right, but so my point is: Why are we trying to be what we’re not? Why can’t we just be what we are, which is to say in movies that are usually fun but rarely critically good? There’s merit to what we do. There’s an importance baked into our very existences. A kid plays a video game, falls in love with the characters we have and the worlds we present, and then, if they’re truly lucky, one day they get to go to the movies and see it acted out on a big screen with real people. I can’t even count how many times someone has come up to me and mentioned the scene in Mortal Kombat where Scorpion and Sub-Zero are introduced for the first time. I’m sure every single one of you here has had that conversation with some kid about how they used to play as you in a video game and then you became even more real for them, even more meaningful to them, even more everlasting in their brain and heart.

[They all look at him, remembering those conversations, nodding softly.]

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Even the suckiest version of something is better than the best version of nothing.

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: That was really insightful.

Raiden from 1995’s Mortal Kombat: Well, I’m a god, so.

Lara Croft from 2018’s Tomb Raider: But … it’s just I think my movie is actually good. Like, good good. Is it not?

Guile from 1994’s Street Fighter: I thought mine was good, too. So did we all.