I mean, I suppose if Oscar Isaac were to be on board we’d watch a Metal Gear Solid movie.
Late Sunday, Star Wars star and otherwise very talented actor, Oscar Isaac, was asked by IGN what roles in big upcoming franchises he would like to portray. Gaming twitter lit on fire, but in a very rare good way, when he stated how strongly he was interested in playing the lead role of Solid Snake in the adaptation of Metal Gear Solid.
“Metal Gear Solid, that’s the one,” said Isaac. “I’m throwing my hat in for that one.”
The director of Kong Skull Island, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, has been making the rounds for about the last few years pitching a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid that’s been in and out of pre-production for at least a decade to no avail, no doubt thanks to the video-game movie curse. It’s possible, however, that adapting this popular franchise with a good script may end that curse…
The sprawling game franchise by one of the most innovative directors in video games, Hideo Kojima, is a throwback to influential action spy thrillers of the 70’s and 80’s, well known for its many paradigm shifts, extensive exposition filled cutscenes and well designed, memorable casts of heroes, anti-heroes and villains.
The role of Snake has been an elusive mystery of casting for years, but recent trends have seen Oscar Isaac throw up his hand on social media to put his hat in the ring to play the part, not long after some folks insisted that Robin Wright would be perfect to play The Boss, the mentor of Big Boss and the complex villain of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
This article will focus on the first entry that we supposedly will witness an adaptation of: Metal Gear Solid, originally released in 1998, set in an alternate future of 2005.
For a vague sense of the plot as a courtesy to newcomers, The story of Metal Gear is a complicated and not very nuanced one so I’ll keep it brief.
Spoiler warning for the game and maybe later points in the series.
Solid Snake is the clone son of former american war hero Big Boss, a man once lauded for his efforts in the Cold War and turned villainous mercenary for making two attempts throughout the 1990’s (alternate history) to build his own Military State and construct an ultimate weapon called Metal Gear.
Metal Gear is a tank that walks on two legs that can launch nuclear weapons and is, in this universe, a highly coveted weapon.
The beginning of Metal Gear Solid finds Solid Snake in his 30s, retired from war, but unable to escape the themes of being a soldier for life. He’s pulled back into the fray by Colonel Roy Campbell, a former commander of Snake’s unit in the 1990’s, and sends him on a stealth mission to a secluded base in Alaska, which is being held with hostages by terrorists.
There is not only Campbell’s niece Meryl among a group of hostages, being held by the villains calling themselves FOXHOUND, but they are also demanding the remains of Big Boss for his DNA to create an army of perfect soldiers, much like Snake once was.
Once on the ground, known and unknown ghosts of Snake’s past encounter him as he sleuth’s his way deeper into the facility, where the discovery of a new, nuclear capable Metal Gear unit awaits…
Obviously, casting never works out as perfectly as something like this. The reality of budget, scheduling and auditions so rarely create such a perfect storm and all of these actors and actresses are pretty well known. However, if even one or two of these actors gets involved in this project we’d be absolutely thrilled.
These are the actors we’d love to see share the screen with Oscar Isaac’s Solid Snake.
Dan Stevens as Liquid Snake
The main villain of the story’s plot and the leader of the FOXHOUND villains, Dan Stevens would be a fantastic pick for the sneering twin brother of Solid Snake. Coming off of the last season of X-Men series Legion on FX, a franchise like this may be good for him. Stevens, after finding himself adapting Disney’s Beast into a live action form, is certainly capable of sinking his teeth into such a maniacal villain, and more than likely able to bring some charisma to a character that has a penchant for whining about his genetic legacy. The multi-picture deal won’t cost him an arm and a leg of commitment if the character goes down his original path.
Jodie Comer as Dr Naomi Hunter
Now network TV iconic for playing the villainous Villanelle on Killing Eve, Jodie is a young actress who absolutely should have a role in a major film production, and her ability for nuanced performance is well suited to Naomi Hunter, a complex member of Foxhound with a shrouded past and the creator of the deadly weapon FOXDIE.
Gemma Chan as Mei Ling
Just about to launch into the stratosphere with Captain Marvel at the time of this writing, Gemma is also well versed in genre films, and could bring a more contemporary, action capable version of Mei Ling to the screen as the FOXHOUND member who simply gives you encouragement, advice and saves your data.
Tom Berenger As Colonel Roy Campbell
The Colonel who sets Snake off on his mission is one of many colors, but most importantly, he begins the story with the impression of a highly regarded authority figure to everyone except for Snake himself. It’s hard to put any actor into the position of trying to impersonate the tone of legendary voice actor Paul Eiding, so the casting of Campbell ought to one with distinctly his own, and equally impactful in performance. While he’s a bit older, Platoon star Tom Berenger has his own performance gravitas that can convey Campbell’s initial grievance and humility, and follow swiftly with deception. And then he gets to pretend to be an AI version of himself in the sequel, and that’d be really fun!
Lizzy Caplan as Meryl Silverburgh
As a character actress who has been in and out of cult favorite films and TV series throughout the years, Lizzy Caplan can deliver on the platonic charisma needed between Meryl and Snake, as a “rookie” soldier trapped in the terrorist’s base, seemingly in need of rescue, and turning out to be a more valuable asset than Snake’s bravado can comprehend. We’re aging up the character here for a more palatable continuity, considering the twist that she’s actually the Colonel’s daughter and not his niece may be a bit too unsettling if she were only an 18 year old recruit.
Adam Scott as Hal Emmerich (AKA Otacon)
Who wouldn’t want to see Ben Wyatt whine about computers and his anime mechas being used for war crimes? As long as Adam is comfortable peeing his pants with a sword in his face on screen, I’m game. He can make a character like Hal actually kind of charming and foppish instead of… whatever he is in the games.
Brian Tyree Henry as DARPA Chief Donald Anderson
An armament specialist during the cold war, this character is partially responsible for the development and funding of Metal Gear, and swiftly following his introduction is revealed to have been used by the villainous FOXHOUND to ensnare Snake in their plans. While his introduction would be seemingly cut short, as a member of Big Boss’ original patriots as to be revealed later on, Brian Tyree Henry would be a wonderful, charismatic investment in the long run of the franchise. While we’ll barely see him, Kiefer Sutherland as Decoy Octopus, the villain causing the DARPA Chief’s demise, will be great as a nod to the fan theories when Metal Gear Solid V came out.
Sam Elliott as Revolver Ocelot
We tried not to fall into the trap of “cast because he looks just like him” but I’ll be damned if Sam Elliott is not perfect for portraying former Gru member-turned Diamond Dog triple agent, Revolver Ocelot. At 75, he’d need to be de-aged or recast for his youthful introduction in Metal Gear Solid 3, but to have such a legendary star in the hands of one of this series most fascinating, and in a way, touching character arcs with Ocelot’s everlasting loyalty to Big Boss’ ideology, extending throughout decades of deception and war, I can’t think of anyone better.
Dwayne The Rock Johnson as Vulcan Raven
It’s too perfect not to. Would it be expensive? Sure. But he’s in a maximum of 3 scenes and some pickups. This character tries to decimate Snake with a TANK in act 1, and a minigun in a freezing server room in act 5. Slap a raven tattoo on his forehead and Dwayne Johnson is a perfect revival of Vulcan Raven. The Rock is no stranger to absurd genre films, and this is just a perfect dash of his screen presence to add variety to the film’s action set pieces. I need it. I need The Rock saying “The Raven on my head thirsts for his blood” on film. Please.
Thandie Newton as Sniper Wolf
The Westworld star has been in films for years, and is one of the redeeming qualities of the otherwise lame Mission Impossible 2. Newton would be a great spin on the Russian master sniper who was notorious for making an emotional connection with her targets before destroying them when least expected. She would also be the centric villain in an emotionally heightened set piece that Hideo Kojima has previously confirmed was influenced by a sniper attack sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.
Tatiana Maslany as Psycho Mantis
Psycho Mantis is a character will be hard to pull off cinematically in general. How do you create a feature film villain out of a character in a gas mask that just happens to be telekinetic in a world where everything else makes at least some kind of sense. Best case scenario, it can be a fun 4th wall breaking deviation that a new crowd of filmgoers can walk away from just as bewildered and excited as fans were back in 1998 when they were told what games are saved on their memory cards in a cinematic scene.
Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany is immensely talented and deserves to have a thrilling and fun villain role in a franchise poised for mega success and I can easily see her telling the audience what is playing in the theater next door, or something like acknowledging the difference between camera A and B from the directing team, and doing so being essential to Snake’s victory of the minds.
Tom Cullen as Grey Fox (AKA Frank Jaeger)
This character is just fun. Anyone should be chomping at the bit to play a cyclops cyborg ninja turned into a tool of western government with a katana after being decimated in a fisticuf on a field of LANDMINES. Truly though, despite all the cool aesthetic, Grey Fox has an actually fulfilling, remorseful character arc, and turns out to be a key player in the story climax. While he doesn’t make it out of Shadow Moses alive, his legacy leaves a lasting impact, and a cautionary tale for Snake.
This character has no subtlety, no nuance, and is all style. He needs an actor that is able to fulfil those things, and also have fun disappearing into the part, allowing the actual character to take center stage ahead of his own appearance. Tom Cullen, known for Downton Abbey and Black Mirror, has the rage and humility for this kind of machine-soldier hybrid.
Daniel Radcliffe as Johnny Sasaki
Johnny enters this franchise as a no name soldier who gets beat up, knocked out and thrown ass-upward into a jail cell as a throwaway gag, and moves through the franchise becoming increasingly more important to the story than anyone could realize.
Daniel Radcliffe is a great person to have as a fun throwaway joke of a cameo with the eventual prospect of becoming Meryl’s love interest by the end of the series arc. And if you’re thinking to yourself “Dan is above doing that!” You clearly forget about Equis and Swiss Army Man. The man is not afraid to go absurdist or surrealist, and I applaud him for it.
Love is funny like that. One day you’re a butt joke, the next you’re being “shipped” in a romantic narrative thread.
Like I said, this is a dream team. There’s no way the world could be this perfect, but I think alongside Oscar Isaac, these performers could bring Hideo Kojima’s beloved, absolutely bonkers vision and homage to action film history to life in a wholly contemporary way that knows when to take itself seriously and when not to.
I now address director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
If you’re actually looking at this article! Wow! Thank you! I think you have a dedicated passion for this franchise, and I can see it clearly with how you engage the MGS community. However this project turns out, I hope the production goes smoothly and you get to make it the way you want.
That’s all any film maker can ask for. This journey may just be starting for you, but the best is yet to come.