A few months ago it came out that Michael Fassbender had signed on to produce and star in an adaptation of the video game Assassin’s Creed. I fretted, because video game movies, historically, don’t work and I don’t want to see Fassbender suffer the same fate as Jake Gyllenhaal and Prince of Persia. Well ditto for Tom Hardy, who has just become attached to an adaptation of Splinter Cell, the game linked with Tom Clancy’s military-espionage brand.
Splinter Cell centers on Sam Fisher and his elite black ops unit which fights terrorism. It’s a pretty straightforward set up for a video game (unlike Assassin’s Creed, which deals with past lives and multiple personalities), and it’s easy to see it as a summer blockbuster. There’s already a writer on board, Eric Singer, whose Black List script American Bullsh*t is being made by David O. Russell. The project is being developed in-house at game owner Ubisoft before they seek a production partner to handle the movie, which is the same structure they used with Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft recently partnered with New Regency to make Creed).
It’s easy to picture Hardy fronting a big splashy video game movie. I recently saw This Means War, and while it is an horrendous movie of unspeakable proportions, when Hardy handles a gun, you believe it. He doesn’t ring my bell but I buy him as a guy who can stomp around barking orders and pointing at things. That’s essentially what he did as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises; at least this time we’ll be able to understand what he says.
This puts Hardy in direct competition with Fassbender—I always like to see two actors of similar stature and equal career hotness go head to head on similar projects. It makes for a good “state of your career” survey. Who can get their game adaptation made first? Whose will turn out better? Is either capable of breaking the video game movie curse? It also means prioritizing from Ubisoft, who owns both game properties. I’ve heard Creed is a high priority for them, and they hope to get it into production next year with a 2014 release. But Splinter Cell seems to be in good train, too, and there’s no reason it couldn’t also get made next year. If you had to choose to between seeing Michael Fassbender or Tom Hardy as a highly-stylized action hero, which one would you give your $11 to?