As a franchise, the Gears Of War series has enjoyed massive success over the years. Despite having over nine games, eight novels, several comic series, a toy line, and replica weapons, the series has yet to receive on-screen representation. It wasn't until recently that Gears of War developer The Coalition announced a partnership with Netflix to create an animated and live-action adaptation of the saga. In terms of the partnership, I am extremely excited and also very nervous. It's no secret that video game movies haven't exactly been the best at impressing their fan bases. Most adaptations do not capture the spirit and essence of the games. Despite this, one can hope that this partnership will do justice to a game series filled with so much history and emotion.
The idea of a Gears of War film has been floating around since the game was released 15 years ago. It has been attached to multiple studios in the past, including New Line Cinema and Universal Studios, with Netflix being the one to likely pull the trigger. Having both a live-action film and an animated series available on Netflix is an interesting idea. The film could offer an intriguing experience, depending on how they approach it and what story they plan to tell in only an hour-and-a-half to two-hour timeframe. Due to the short amount of time, they have to introduce the world and characters to the audience, video game movies are difficult to pull off. However, the animated series is where it could really shine. Here, it will be able to craft its story while growing its characters over multiple seasons, which will keep the plot from feeling rushed.
As far as story and casting go, I don’t know what Netflix is planning. Since the planet Sera has such a rich history, I'm curious about where they intend to explore in the timeline. An intriguing setting for the games would be the Pendulum Wars, as humanity battles each other over a fuel source for over 79 years before the antagonists of the games (the Locusts) are introduced. It's imperative that they bring back the legendary voice actors for the animated series if they're using pre-existing characters! Unless I get to hear the Brotherly banter between actors John DiMaggio (Marcus Fenix) and Carlos Ferro (Dominic Santiago), I'm not sure I want to see their characters make an appearance.
Casting for the live-action film is a subject on which everyone and their mother has an opinion. Former Pro Wrestler and movie star Dave Bautista has been vying for the iconic role of Marcus Fenix for years and hasn't been shy about telling the world he's interested. In one instance, Dave even turned down a role on Fast & Furious to pitch a Gears Of War movie (talk about dedication). In my opinion, this man is the right choice for the role. Rather than showing up for a paycheck, he apparently cares deeply about the character and the world around him. In the case of Augustus Cole, also known as the Cole Train, nobody can play the role better than the character's voice actor himself, Lester Speight. There's no doubt he has the voice, physique, energy, and passion to succeed. If you aren't convinced, check out his work as Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, and then tell me he isn't the right man. It would be a crime if Speight were not considered for the role. If Netflix decides to use the new generation of Gears protagonists that have appeared in more recent games, then my controversial casting choice for the role of JD Fenix would be...well, if it isn't the character’s voice actor Liam McIntyre (which would be awesome), then I would have to go with...that's right, Chris Pratt (Come at me, internet). It is easy to see the resemblance to Pratt playing a young, inexperienced JD, whom he has already shown to be both witty and serious when necessary. Many people will probably be up in arms about this casting choice, but were you seriously expecting someone like Tom Holland (don't answer that)?
Apart from casting, I would like to see a new squad of characters introduced with a unique story that would leave even the most diehard fan speechless and craving more. Aside from that, showing off the vast array of weapons, such as the (space laser) Hammer Of Dawn, would make fans go wild. The great thing about Gears of War is that there are still so many stories to be explored within its universe in many different locations and time periods. It is crucial that both the live-action film and animated series make an effort to convey the horrors and toll that war brings along with the themes of brotherhood that these characters all share.
As of late, the momentum around the Gears series has slowed down drastically, with the franchise's most recent main title, Gears 5, no longer being supported as of almost a year now while the next entry is still being developed. With Netflix announcing the partnership, hopefully, this will start turning some gears (yeah, I said it), giving the series some momentum to reclaim the spotlight in the gaming world. It is unclear when either project will be released, but I am fine with them taking the necessary time to ensure this stands out among other video game adaptations.
As a fan who holds this gaming series very close to my heart (read my Gears life-changing story here) and who has built a complete cosplay from scratch to even cutting my own Gears-themed wedding cake alongside my wife with a replica Retro Lancer, I am always eager to consume anything the franchise has to offer. In the meantime, check back here on Couch Soup for more coverage while we wait for future updates on the project. And as a side note, if there is any chance either Netflix or The Coalition may need one more extra for a random Cog Soldier or red shirt, I am reporting for duty and ready to serve!