The project has been flirting with development for years now but this week the World of Warcraft took one step closer to reality when Moon director Duncan Jones was officially announced as the man to make it happen. Cue frantic speculation as to what form the film will take. We've cast back into Azerothian lore to come up with 10 possible storylines to mull over while Jones sets about assembling his party (ManMadeMoon: "LFM WoWMovie 40. 1st boss down - No DKs, Ret Pallys or ninjas plz!").
Although the movie is ostensibly adapting World Of Warcraft, it could well draw on lore that predates that MMORPG game and is found in the earlier RTS iterations in the series, which began with Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Starting right at the beginning would essentially make it a fantasy alien-invasion movie in which the people of Azeroth’s Eastern Kingdoms suddenly have to contend with the arrival of the cursed orcish Horde from the shattered world Draenor (or Outland) through the Dark Portal. If they’re serious about this as a franchise, this would seem a logical starting point. And it ends with the orcs winning, which would make for lovely sequel-bait. w00t.
The later events of The Second War would have more scope for introducing the various (but distinctly Tolkienesque) races of Azeroth and Draenor, with the besieged human kingdoms pulling together and enlisting the help of the dwarves of Ironforge and the elves of Quel’Thalas to tackle Warchief Doomhammer’s Horde — which itself has now enlisted ogres and the Amani forest trolls. Undeniable epic scope here, but it feels like it would be an odd starting point. Mainly because the title would have the word ‘Second’ in it.
This arc has a distinctly Star Wars/Darth Vader vibe. Heroic paladin-prince Arthas Menethil and his special-ladyfriend mage Jaina Proudmoore attempt to curb the spread of a plague that turns people into zombiefootsoldiers of the evil Scourge, led by The Lich King (formerly orc shaman Ner’Zhul). But along the way, Arthas slaughters a bunch of infected townspeople, burns his mens’ boats so they can’t retreat from a battle with demons, becomes fully corrupted by a runesword, kills his father King Terenas, turns into a Death Knight and, eventually, fuses with Ner’Zhul’s spirit to become the new Lich King. Er, hooray?
One of Warcraft’s strongest narratives which features one of the series’ best characters, whose rise to power has parallels with Spartacus (without the climactic crucifixion, or that bit about the oysters). The trouble is, the bold slave Thrall, who goes onto become the proud leader of his people, is an orc. The turnaround (green-skinned, monstrous orcs as the oppressed; humans as the tyrants) would be a neat spin on the fantasy formula, but probably vastly uncommercial. Unless, perhaps, they changed Thrall’s name to Sporctacus...
Okay, we’re finally in the chronology of World Of Warcraft-proper now, with the races of Thrall’s Horde (orcs, trolls, tauren, undead) facing off against those of the Alliance (humans, night elves, dwarves, gnomes). A good thread to focus on would be the mysterious disappearance of the human king of Stormwind, Varian Wrynn, whose lands are left in the hands of a regent manipulated by a black dragon (Onyxia) disguised as a noblewoman. The story of his adventures — abducted by bandits, loses memory in shipwreck, captured by orcs, becomes gladiator named Lo’Gosh (“Ghost Wolf”) — is actually related in the World Of Warcraft comic-book, rather than part of the game. But we hear movies based on comic-book stories do quite well these days.
The movie could always jump straight into a relatively recent, quite literally gamechanging event in Warcraft history: The Cataclysm. This involves the “maddened Dragon Aspect” Deathwing The Destroyer (think giant dragon crossed with balrog) laying waste to Azeroth in a Godzilla-meets-2012 stylee. There would be plenty of pixel-crunching mass-scale disaster gags, before Deathwing would eventually be defeated by a massive force led by orc lord Thrall.
Why not turn one of WoW’s most controversial developments into the movie’s USP? Duncan Jones could always break the tyranny of Tolkien-rip-off races and set his entire movie in Pandaria (a continent found on the back of a colossal sea-turtle), featuring the large, bouncy, brew-chugging panda-people known as The Pandaren. Who, like a certain other cinematic talking panda, know kung-fu. Cough. It’d do well in China, at least…
World Of Warcraft’s most (in)famous player has to be foolish paladin Leeroy Jenkins, star of a disastrous, screen-captured dungeon raid by the guild PALS FOR LIFE that went disastrously wrong when, ignoring the stat-crunching tactical discussion of his team-mates, he charged into the The Rookery of Upper Blackrock Spire yelling his battle cry “Leeeeeeroy Jenkinssss!!!”. Which caused all-round panic and the swift, hilarious deaths of everyone involved (“why do you do this shit, Leeroy?”). Would be really funny. But also short. Still, at least he has chicken.
A final, possible way to go could be the whole “they all come to Earth” approach. So a group of Azerothian heroes would discover their entire reality is in fact a digital construct which exists on something known as ‘The Internet’. Utilising various powerful magicks, they work out a way of breaking into RL (real life). Here the characters meet their players — mostly 14 year-old-boys, plus one or two slightly embarrassed thirtysomething film journalists with RSI — and they all join forces to stop The Lich King (Charles Dance) from taking over Earth by turning the world’s leaders into murlocs. Or not.
If Jones and Legendary really wanted to replicate the Warcraft gaming experience on the big screen, they could base their epic drama on how a typical random instance group operates. So the team would arrive, say, in the radiation-drenched city of Gnomeregan only for their irritatingly impatient undead rogue — named Roflzilla — to keep spamming “gogogogogogogo” in /I chat and aggro mobs, repeatedly wiping the group until the exasparated tank (a tauren warrior named Boomhoof) votes to kick him. The twist? He’s replaced by a goblin warlock — named ^Gøblöck^ — who forgets to dismiss his succubus before the second parachute jump, thereby wiping the goup once more. At which point, the healer — a ‘loom gear-twinked female blood elf called Pynxie — tires of the hunter (Gandalf the troll) yelling “HEAL PRIEST! FFS YOU NUB!” and quits, causing the group to fall apart completely. Would sweep the Oscars. Guaranteed.