The success of Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Marvel, and DC Movies, has proven that nerd-culture is thriving. In fact, it’s been five years since the New York Times declared that “We are all nerds now”, and the mainstreaming of nerd-culture has continued apace.
We are arguably living in a golden age of comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy. Each year there is a new Star Wars movie, Marvel and DC continue to churn out material at a frightening pace. Next year we will also see the long-awaited Marvel’s Avengers video game from Square Enix. We will even be treated to more Lord of the Rings once Tolkien gets the Amazon treatment.
However, there is always a chance of overkill. Mainstream movie studios and gaming developers tend to wring every last bit of life (and cash) out of a concept until the audience is left with a feeling of saturation. Thor 4 might sound exciting, but at what point should the characters and themes be left alone? Does the request for sequels and reboots overshadow the creation of original material?
Greek Mythology Largely Untapped
Games and movies need themes and settings, of course, and the more familiar the better. Marvel’s Thor and Loki (who will star in a standalone tv series) have opened up our eyes to Norse Mythology, although one would argue that some of the more interesting stuff has still been overlooked. But what about that other great wealth of mystical resource – Greek Mythology?
Of course, many movies and games have been based on Greek myth. But what about really great content? Not since the days of Ray Harryhausen, the father of “dynamation” – Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans (1981) – has the world of Greek gods and myths really pushed the boat out.
The God of War video game series hit some good notes, of course, but there is so much more to explore in the genre. An interesting comparison is the Age of the Gods casino game range available at Mansion Casino, which has a simple Pay By Phone option. That series spans about 15 games, covering the gods, titans, minor gods, heroes, monsters and myths, and there is more still to come. Each game seems fresh because it explores new characters and themes.
Many Interesting Characters Ripe for Interpretation
The point is about untapped thematic backdrops for video games and movies. We don’t need a new Hercules movie, but there is plenty of material on Pan, Hermes, Dionysus, Sisyphus, and Tantalus. Above all, in this era when movie and gaming developers should be pushing women into kick-ass roles, we have Athena, who has enough canon to fill a thousand comic books.
However, there is a trap that movie makers, in particular, tend to fall into; namely, they use the previous Greek mythological moves as the reference point. Clash of the Titans (2010) and Wrath of the Titans (2012) felt like it was made in the same tone as the classic myth movies a half-century earlier. This is a misstep. Making something based on Greek mythology should be a brand-new interpretation. Do you think Chris Nolan wanted to mimic Tim Burton’s Batman when he began working on the Dark Knight? Not a chance.
The canon is out there, just waiting to be taken in a new direction. We don’t need to see remakes of old movies, but new interpretations – brave interpretations – coming to screen and video games. There are so many directions for developers to go, and the movie and gaming landscape will be much richer for it.
Visual journalist/Graduating student, University of Missouri-Columbia. Lover of everything in the gaming industry and an avid fan of all films!