Now that video games have plots more complex than “rescue your girlfriend from tyrannical lizards,” they’re constantly being accused of trying to be movies. And sure, both mediums are starting to look a lot alike these days, partly because both rely almost exclusively on computer graphics.
But there’s another, subtler reason movies and video games feel so similar — at a steadily increasing rate, movies have been stealing from video games in such sneaky ways that you’d probably never notice it unless someone put both things side by side. So let’s do that …
#6. The Force Awakens Stole As Much From Star Wars Video Games As It Did From The Original Trilogy
One of the bigger criticisms of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was that it borrowed too heavily from A New Hope (for instance, both movies feature a character named “Han Solo”). But that’s not the only source it shamelessly lifted stuff from. Remember how surprising it was to watch the aforementioned Han Solo get stabbed through the torso with a lightsaber in the middle of a scene that appeared to be building to a heartwarming father-son hug?
Yeah, nobody was happy about this.
Paradoxically, that moment would have been even more surprising if you had played 2010’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, because you wouldn’t have expected a goddamn remake:
At least this guy was nice enough to follow through with the hug in Han’s final moments.
The game’s Battle Of Endor expansion allowed you to murder many beloved Star Wars characters (plus the Ewoks), and Han’s death scene features the same style of execution, the same lightsaber color, and even the same disturbingly orgasmic death face as in The Force Awakens. You can see the full scene here, but be advised about watching more from that game, because if this trend continues, you may get spoiled on how Leia gets killed in a double lightsaber duel.
Now let’s look at Han’s killer, Kylo Ren — who, in a plot twist, turns out to be his emo son Ben.
That’s what you get for naming your kid after some crazy old guy you barely knew.
Kylo wears an outfit suspiciously similar to the one worn by another character from a Star Wars video game: Darth Revan from the Knights Of The Old Republic series. As with Kylo, Revan’s identity is revealed in a plot twist — he’s actually the player.
Kylo started out as a Jedi apprentice before turning over to the Dark Side, but he still feels conflicted about it. The same goes for Revan, whose final Dark/Light affiliation depends on how much of a dick the player chooses to be in the game. Even Kylo’s Starkiller Base, which drains energy out of a star in order to function, is reminiscent of Revan’s Star Forge, which works the same way. Shame on you for thinking they were just ripping off the Death Star.
In fairness, Knights Of The Old Republic was also ripping off the Death Star, because it seems that’s the only idea anyone has in the Star Wars universe.
#5. The Fight Scenes In Batman V. Superman Look Exactly Like Batman: Arkham Asylum
Director Zack Snyder is a divisive figure among movie fans, but we can all agree that he has a distinct, immediately recognizable style. As in, you’d never mistake one of his movies for an episode of General Hospital or something. His action scenes in particular stand out for being ultra-violent and tightly choreographed. For instance, one of the best scenes of Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice is the one in which Batman kicks the asses of a bunch of thugs in a warehouse.
See? Pretty original stuff … unless you’ve played the Arkham series of video games, in which case watching that video probably made your thumbs twitch reflexively. We don’t only mean that both involve Batman punching the shit out of faceless henchmen — it’s a specific style that only shows up one other place. Both Snyder’s Batman and Arkham Batman love slamming enemies’ faces on the floor:
This is why Batman’s rogues gallery is so ugly.
Taking on multiple dudes at the same time in a sort of rhythmic dance that bounces from one opponent to the next in a circle, shattering faces at every stop:
The guy who killed Batman’s parents also had bones, so it’s personal.
And occasionally grabbing heavy objects with your grappling hook and using them to smash dudes:
The Snyder version looks more like a video game.
Hell, someone put the game’s HUD over the scene and it fits perfectly. There’s even a moment when Batman renders the thugs’ guns useless with some sort of gizmo — just like the disruptor gadget from the games. The fighting styles are also very similar and much more brutal than what we’re accustomed to, making the blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em fight scenes of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight movies look like they’re full of BIFFs and POWs in stylized word balloons.
Ironically, the one thing Snyder didn’t copy from the Arkham series is the slo-mo — which the developers say they copied from Snyder’s 300 in the first place. It’s good to see that creative thievery enjoys a proud Batman tradition of being a two-way street.
#4. The Director Of Gravity Keeps Borrowing From Half-Life And Call Of Duty
Alfonso Cuaron is the acclaimed, Academy-Award-winning director behind films like Gravity, Children Of Men, and The Good Harry Potter Movie. According to Cuaron, the last video game he played was Space Invaders — which might be a ruse to prevent us from discovering how much he’s borrowed from games in his career. For starters:
Humanity may be doomed in 2027, but at least we’ll have the newly-released Half-Life 3 to cheer us up.
Yes, we know Children Of Men is based on a book from 1990 and Half-Life 2 came out in 2004. However, it’s entirely possible that Cuaron noticed both stories are set in dystopic near-futures wherein everyone is infertile and decided to borrow some of the game’s look and feel. From Half Life‘s introspective train ride …
Us when the phone battery dies.
… to the desolate but militarized train stations where dickish soldiers push people around …
What these oppressive states save on food, they spend on wire fences.
…to the eerily abandoned children’s playgrounds.
The swing industry has seen better days.
Even though the movie isn’t in first-person perspective like the game, the camera is constantly showing us the point of view of the main character in this chaotic world. Also, they both end on a massive insurrection against the totalitarian government. There’s even a moment in the movie’s long, climactic firefight in which the camera gets splattered with blood, like in a first-person shooter. All that’s missing is one of the soldiers stopping to teabag a dead body while yelling something racist.
Ironically, FPS games would be much more pleasant in this future, since 14-year-olds don’t exist.
Speaking of shooters, when Call Of Duty: Ghosts came out in 2013, many compared it to Cuaron’s Gravity (from earlier in the same year) because both feature scenes in which a space station blows up and the astronauts are left drifting in space. What everyone missed was that Call Of Duty did this years before Cuaron — in 2009’s Modern Warfare 2, there’s a short but strikingly similar scene where the same freaking thing happens:
Gravity (2013), winner of seven Oscars.
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009), winner of two Golden Joysticks.
Cuaron even adopted a first-person perspective for the corresponding shots in Gravity. It looks like the closer Cuaron’s movies get to video games, the more successful they are, so let’s hope the producers of the upcoming Tetris trilogy are reading this.