Earlier in the week, Netflix presented their 2017 programming slate to the press — and included in their announcements was one very simple sentence: “‘Castlevania’ Season 1, Part 1 coming to Netflix in 2017.”
Wait, hold up… A series inspired by one of Nintendo’s all-time best video game franchises is being adapted into a television series? For every fan out there — of the gameplay, the story and that timeless 8-bit music — we took a deeper dive into the announcement.
For those who have kept track of the project, Warren Ellis — the writer who became a comics-household name with “The Authority” and “Planetary” before crafting movie-related projects like “RED” and a stint on “Iron Man” — penned the scripts for the project well over a decade ago. According to SlashFilm, the animated series is based on the prequel storyline featured in the 1989 NES release: “Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.”
We couldn’t get executive producer Adi Shankar (“Dredd,” “The Grey”) to clarify that — but he did have a lot to say about the importance of video games as an art form, the delightfully disruptive nature of working with Netflix and why he thinks this could be the best video game adaptation fans have ever seen.
Real talk: When the news hit that a ‘Castlevania’ series is on the horizon, I absolutely flipped my lid!
There was a simplicity to the games that I think you were responding to. It’s not that they were easy — they were actually notoriously difficult — but there was a simplicity to the mechanics of them that you could get into. Plus, they were also fun to watch! Someone could be sitting on the couch with you, watching it, and it would’ve been just as entertaining to them as it was to you.
Plus, there’s a definite sense of gamer nostalgia that you’re going to be tapping into…
The art was always dope. The key art was always dope.
So, why is 2017 the right time for a ‘Castlevania’ series?
My philosophy on everything has always been: I have stories to tell and I’m going to figure out a way to tell that story — legally, or illegally.
If you look at a lot of the adaptations in the nerd sphere, they lack a point of view. I would argue that [games] are the greatest art form to come out of the last 30 years. The fact that they’re not treated as such — the fact that a guy like Terry Richardson is treated like more of an artist than a video game designer — is a f*cking travesty… [it’s] a joke. That’s seriously insane to me.
You’ve got the gaming community on your side — but how do you broaden the appeal of an adaptation like this, to bring in viewers who may not be familiar with the original subject matter?
Fundamentally, the experience of playing a game versus watching a film is so different. Here’s how I would boil it down: Movies almost feel like these fake memories cut together with emotional arcs, they’re like these emotional stories that etch into your mind. It’s like sitting around a campfire and telling stories with your friends: That’s a movie. A video game is more like sports.
So a video game adaptation should invoke the same immersive, experiential quality of a sporting event?
Yes. Exactly. 150,000 percent.
Why is Netflix the right place for a ‘Castlevania’ series?
I have worked with every major studio at this point and Netflix is the dopest company in entertainment today, on every level. It’s literally like Silicon Valley coming in and going, Hey, let’s be disruptive! Which is awesome, because the whole reason we make art is to disrupt!
If you are an artist, your goal is to be the conscience of humanity: If you’re a dreamer, show people the better way — or a version of a better way. Art has stopped doing that, and has become purely about commerce. This is why, you know, movies are tanking — it’s why sequels are tanking. Because raising awareness will only take you so far.
You previously posted on social media that this project will ‘flip the vampire sub-genre on its head.’ Can you elaborate on that at all?
I will just say this: It’s going to be the best video game adaptation to date.
That’s a pretty bold statement.
If it’s not, I will quit. I am holding myself to this standard, you know?
“Castlevania” Season 1, Part 1 will hit Netflix later this year.