Casting The MASS EFFECT Movie That Doesn’t Exist… Yet?
Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy remains one of the coolest video game experiences of all time. It’s an epic trilogy of games that link together through your choices as Commander Shepard. Every decision you make can have positive or negative consequences further along in the story. By the end of this science fiction adventure, you get to know a large variety of species on a deep level and their fate is in your hands.
At it’s core, Mass Effect is about the first ever Human Spectre. You play as Shepard, (Male or Female) an elite solider who joins the Spectre organization at a time when one of their own goes rogue. The evil Saren has teamed up with a species of enormous living star ships known as Reapers. These creatures return from Dark Space every 50,000 years to purge the universe of all life.
It’s Shepard’s task to recruit a team and find a way to defeat Saren and eliminate the Reaper threat. Along the way, you form personal relationships with your crew and help them resolve issues of their own. It’s an action heavy yet character focused tale that fits right alongside heavyweights like Star Wars.
So why haven’t we seen a movie yet!? Currently, developer Bioware (Electronic Arts) has licensed the movie rights to Legendary Pictures. But that was way back in 2010. Since then, rumors have swirled around Universal Studios distributing the adaptation but we haven’t heard anything concrete in years. Is the film dead?
Perhaps the fate of the Mass Effect movie depends on films like Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed. Both films release in 2016 and their success could fast track a trilogy of Mass Effect films. There’s also an official Tomb Raider reboot in the works starring Alicia Vikander. (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) These projects could launch a new age of… (ahem) successful video game adaptations.
This is especially important when adapting a blockbuster like Mass Effect. These films will be extremely expensive and risky given the shaky history of live action video game adaptations. Yet the film could be closer than ever with renewed interest in the franchise thanks to 2017’s Mass Effect Andromeda.
We could be in for an entirely new trilogy of Mass Effect games set in a completely different galaxy and featuring an all new hero. With careful development, the Mass Effect movie franchise has the potential to spawn it’s own shared universe similar to Star Wars. But there is simply not enough information about the ‘movie’ to go on beyond speculation.
So, in the interest of speculation, I decided to cast the Mass Effect movie! I absolutely adored the games. If I created a personal Hall of Fame for video game storytelling (mako sequences aside), the Mass Effect trilogy would be one of the first inductees. The world of Mass Effect is incredibly detailed with a rich history you help shape over the course of three 60+ hour games.
If there is enough story to invest in for nearly two hundred hours, there’s certainly enough to fill two on the big screen. Unfortunately, until an official announcement is made, all fans can do is speculate.
Commencing speculation in 3…2…
CASTING THE MASS EFFECT MOVIE
Martin Sheen as The Illusive Man
Several characters on this list are lifted straight from the production of the video games. Martin Sheen voiced The Illusive Man in the games so he’s an easy pick to reprise the role in the movie. In the games, this character is in charge of the mysterious Cerberus. An organization that plays a large role in Mass Effect 2 & 3.
For the first Mass Effect film, The Illusive Man will be a small cameo to setup his larger role in future films.
Illusive Man Clip (Mass Effect 2)
Yvonne Strahovski as Miranda Lawson
Another easy pick. Yvonne Strahovski was the model for the character and provided Miranda’s voice. She is perfect for the role.
Miranda was genetically engineered by her own father to be a ‘specimen of human perfection‘. She has strong biotic abilities and deep ties to Cerberus and The Illusive Man. Her role in the first film would be minor but very important as an agent of Cerberus and potential love interest for Shepard. She would become a main character in Mass Effect 2.
Miranda Lawson Clip (Mass Effect 2)
Liz Sroka as Tali’Zorah nar Rayys
Tali is an extremely intelligent engineer and member of the nomadic Quarian race. Her species was forced to take refuge on a fleet of star ships after their home world was conquered. Like the rest of her race, Tali has a low immune system and must wear a protective suit at all times.
Her face barely is visible through the mask so this character would be in costume on sets and voiced by Liz Sroka reprising her role from the games.
Tali Clip (Mass Effect 3)
Seth Green as Jeff ‘Joker’ Moreau
Let me take a second to explain why I’m choosing to go with actors who played roles in the games. Hardcore fans of the franchise expect characters to look and sound a certain way. The people Bioware chose to play those roles are perfect in the game. Why wouldn’t they work on the big screen? Case in point, Seth Green as Joker.
He is the pilot of Commander Shepard’s ship, The Normandy. He’s often the comic relief in the story and that’s why Seth Green is perfect the role he already owns.
Joker Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Steven Barr as Urdnot Wrex
The final cast member from the game is Steven Barr who provides an incredibly unique voice for Urdnot Wrex. This character has to be a CG/Motion Capture creation and would be perfect for Barr’s return. The character is a mercenary/bounty hunter with biotic abilities and a key member of Shepard’s crew. He is a high ranking ‘battlemaster’ of the Krogan race. A strong military species that was infected by Turians to limit their ability to reproduce. The Krogan’s now face extinction if a cure for the Genophage isn’t found.
Urdnot Wrex Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Mike Colter as Jacob Taylor
Jacob Taylor is a well trained fighter with biotic abilities. He is a part of Shepard’s crew in Mass Effect 2 and has connections to Miranda Lawson.
The film version of the character is perfect for an actor like Mike Colter. Thanks to his role as Luke Cage in Jessica Jones season one, we know he can bring the physicality as well as quieter character moments. He’s also poised to explode with Luke Cage getting his own spin-off series on Netflix in Fall 2016.
Jacob Taylor Clip (Mass Effect 2)
Brie Larson as Dr. Liara T’Soni
Dr. Liara T’Soni is an extremely powerful character in the games and a potential love interest for Shepard. Among her species she is a very young at 106 years of age. Her strong biotic abilities are equally matched by her intelligence and she plays an important role in the battle against Saren and the Reapers. For the movie role, Brie Larson could go the route of Mystique with practical make up. (Liara AND Captain Marvel?)
Liara T’Soni Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Ron Perlman as Garrus Vakarian
Garrus is a Turian. In the game he is a key ally for Shepard and a talented fighter. Garrus is an officer who is responsible for uncovering Saren’s betrayal and goes against his commander’s orders to pursue the villain. He joins Shepard’s crew to defeat Saren for good. Like Urdnot Wrex, Garrus is perfectly suited to be a CG/Motion Capture character. With Ron Perlman providing the voice, you have the makings of a memorable member of Shepard’s squad.
Garrus Vakarian Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Tom Hiddleston as Saren Arterius
The Reaper’s may be the ultimate big bad in the Mass Effect universe but it is Saren who drives the majority of ME 1’s plot.
I chose Tom Hiddleston because of one specific scene in Marvel’s The Avengers in which he threatens Black Widow. (Here’s the clip) Having an actor like Hiddleston provide the voice for such a complex and powerful villain would be phenomenal. Like Garrus and Urdnot Wrex, Saren would be a fantastic CG/Motion Capture character.
Saren Arterius Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Richard Madden as Kaidan Alenko
Kaidan Alenko is a crucial character in Mass Effect. Eventually, every player has to choose to send Kaidan or Ashley Williams on an impossible mission. Whoever you picked had a strong chance of dying. In the end, I chose to save Ashley and Kaidan didn’t survive. It’s a brutal moment in the game that truly made me realize how attached to the characters I was.
In the film, Kaidan would have a similar role and I chose Game of Thrones alumni Richard Madden bring him to life.
Kaidan Alenko Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Emily Blunt as Ashley Williams
While there are several options for love interests in Mass Effect, mine was Ashley Williams. Her relationship with my version of Shepard was a big part of the entire trilogy of games. This relationship would be central to the Mass Effect movie trilogy as well. Ashley is a strong fighter and a perfect fit for a star like Emily Blunt. (Need help visualizing Blunt in the role? Check out Edge of Tomorrow and/or Sicario.)
Ashley Williams Clip (Mass Effect 1)
Wentworth Miller as Commander Shepard
There are many fantastic choices for Commander Shepard out there. It’s a huge role as the center of a brand new blockbuster franchise. My money is on Wentworth Miller. There are two reasons why he would work other than the fact that he looks like ‘default’ Shepard. First, he can play the action hero as evidenced by his roles in Prison Break and Legends of Tomorrow.
Second, the Mass Effect movie is a story about the crew of the Normandy. A family unit with Shepard at it’s dysfunctional core. His relationship with every crew member and species they represent ties the entire series together. For that, you need an actor who can handle the action and command the respect of his crew. I think Wentworth Miller is more than capable of pulling it off.
Commander Shepard Clip (Mass Effect 1)
THE MASS EFFECT MOVIE
First, here is a fantastic recap of the first Mass Effect game:
The setup is simple. After encountering an ancient artifact created by a race known as The Protheans, Shepard becomes a Spectre charged with finding the evil Saren and the Reaper that controls him. Standing in his way is a mechanical army of artificially intelligent robots known as the Geth. Shepard must recruit a crew of his own and find a way to destroy the Reaper threat before all life in the universe is wiped out.
On a more personal level, Shepard encounters the Quarians who created the Geth. The robots took over their home world and forced them to live on star ships. The Krogan Urdnot Wrex belongs to a violent species that faces extinction thanks to a virus created by the Turians. You can imagine the tension between Wrex and fellow crew member Garrus. Rounding out Shepard’s crew is a team of characters you can’t help but fall in love with as a player. As Shepard, you invest a great deal of time learning about each characters history. It’s these personal relationships that make Mass Effect such a thrilling adventure when the action hits.
You fight to save your friends and make difficult decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families. You fall in love. You get betrayed. You unite them all and save the galaxy.
Outside the basic premise and relationships you form is a rich mythology so dense it would be impossible to adapt in a trilogy. Let alone a single film. There are ancient races and modern political agendas. There are characters with powerful abilities, technologically advanced weapons and countless breathtaking locations. Specifically a massive space station known as The Citadel that serves as a hub for every known species in existence.
This journey takes place mainly on The Normandy, a star ship that has the potential to take it’s place beside the greats like the Millennium Falcon.
It all ends with an incredible cinematic battle that takes into account every decision you made as you played through the game.
Mass Effect goes way beyond traditional video games. It combines space exploration, a deep RPG system, a ship and crew of your own to command and difficult choices to make. Choices that impact all three games as your character evolves. At the center of the Mass Effect movie is the heroic Commander Shepard and the difficult mission he must complete. A mission that’s perfect for the big screen.
It’s not a reality yet but thankfully fans have Mass Effect: Andromeda to look forward to and maybe… Just maybe… A feature film.