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Assassin's Creed: What We Know So Far

Video games have come a long way when it comes to narrative. With more hours of gameplay than many TV series, never mind movies, this means that there's a lot of story to adapt when the movie studios come looking for new movies to make. Assassin's Creed has been an incredibly popular game series since it debuted in 2007. Now it's being turned into a feature film, with hopes of turning it into a franchise as big as the games themselves.

While the movie looks to be taking the basic premise of the Ubisoft (opens in new tab) video game's structure, there will be many differences as well. Take a look at the trailer so you can get a taste of what you're in for.

There's a lot we still don't know about the Assassin's Creed movie, but here's a breakdown of the structure of the game, as well as that of the movie.

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What Is The Assassin’s Creed Release Date?

Assassin’s Creed is scheduled for a North American Release on Dec 21, 2016. December is usually the home of the award-worthy films, which would put Assassin's Creed in a class by itself. However, with the return of a certain major franchise, the assassins may have their work cut out for them. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is hitting theaters the weekend prior, and if Star Wars: The Force Awakens is any indication, Rogue One could have some serious staying power.

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What Is The Assassin’s Creed Rating?

Assassin’s Creed is currently unrated, but we anticipate a PG-13 rating when it is finally released. The film will fall squarely into the modern action genre, and as such, it is likely to have a rating similar to other movies of its type. All of the Assassin's Creed games have received M ratings, which is closer to that of an R for the MPAA, however, the M rating does not restrict game sales the way an R rating can do for movie tickets. It's possible, however, that the film could go for an R rating as other game-to-film series have done (Resident Evil).

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What Is Assassin’s Creed About?

While a great deal of Assassin’s Creed is still clouded in mystery, the first trailer gives us the story’s basic premise. Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is dead. At least, that’s what the rest of the world believes. He recently faced execution, but rather than being killed, his death was faked and he’s now being held by a company called Abstergo. They claim to be working toward the future of mankind, but as their methods are somewhat questionable, their motives are as well. Abstergo has perfected a technology that will allow Callum to experience the memories of one of his own ancestors. Abstergo needs him to do this in order to obtain information that the ancestor had, but has since been lost.

A large portion of Assassin’s Creed will take place during the Spanish Inquisition. Here, Michael Fassbender will portray, Aguilar, a member of an ancient order of assassins involved in a feud with the Knights Templar. Exactly how the Spanish Inquisition will fit into the modern day story is still unclear.

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The Game

The film version of Assassin’s Creed is based on a long running video game series of the same name. Begun in 2007, Assassin's Creed is simultaneously a science fiction series and a historical adventure at the same time. The story follows a centuries long battle between two factions, the assassins and the Knights Templar. The sides have been fighting for the fate of humanity for centuries. In the initial games the characters are faced with a world ending event (based on the famous 2012 Mayan calander doomsday conspiracy theory). The Templars believe that if humanity is to to be saved, they, as the best and brightest humanity has to offer, must take control. Assassin’s believe in free will above all else, and that a life lived under somebody’s thumb is no life at all.

In the games, the primary objective of these historical experiments is the recovery of objects called Pieces of Eden, ancient technology with immense power, left behind by a race of beings that predate humanity. Whether this will be the objective of the film as well is not yet clear, though it has been said that the Assassin’s Creed movie is taking place within the same universe as the games, so it’s a safe bet that the goal in the film will, somehow, be related.

The key mechanics of the Assassin’s Creed games are based on free running and other parkour like skills. Assassins can climb the near sheer sides of buildings barehanded, and are most at home running across rooftops, jumping from one building to the next. The trailer shows us a fair amount of this. We can be sure that action will be a key aspect of the film.

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How Will Assassin’s Creed Be Different From The Game?

While there are many things that we can assume about the movie, based on the game, it's to be expected that some changes will be made. First and foremost, we know that the movie is not an adaptation of any game in the series, but rather it’s another chapter in the same universe. The primary modern day protagonist of the game series is a man named Desmond Miles, who grew up as an assassin, but rejected the lifestyle and left home, only to be eventually found by the Templar order and kidnapped. What little we know about the character of Callum Lynch appears to suggest that he will not know much, if anything, about his ancestor’s involvement in the assassin order.

The biggest difference that we know of so far, is that while the games spend the vast majority of their time on the historical period, the film will deal much more with the modern day character. It will be interesting to see how this difference impacts the story. In the games, our hero has always been the historical character, Ezio Auditore, in Renaissance Italy or native American Connor during the American Revolution. The modern day character of Desmond Miles was always our conduit to that character, but was never of any particular importance himself. The movie is planning to flip the script and make the modern day Callum Lynch the story’s driving character.

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Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender was not familiar with the Assassin’s Creed franchise when he was approached about the role. Since then, he’s become very excited about the film as he has also signed on as a producer. Callum Lynch appears to be a very different character than we’re used to seeing in Assassin's Creed. While killing is, of course, a standard part of assassin life, spilling the blood of innocents is expressly forbidden within the creed. It’s unlikely that Aguilar will be the same sort of character, this has the potential to give Fassbender two very different characters to play.

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Supporting Characters

The supporting cast of Assassin's Creed looks to be very strong and contains several stellar actors. Jeremy Irons will play Alan Rikken, the man in charge of the facility where Callum Lynch is being held. His daughter, Dr. Sofia Rikken, played by Marion Cotillard, is actually the one running the experiment on Callum in the Animus. While father and daughter do appear to be working together, there may be some degree of conflict between the two.

During the Spanish Inquisition era scenes we see several people dressed in the traditional assassin robes, most of what we get from them are action shots without much context. We are introduced to a female assassin in the trailer rather prominently, this appears to be Ariane Labed's Maria, a role that was originally planned for Alicia Vikander. She'll be playing the female lead in the historic portion of the movie. The games have been a little light on female assassins, so Maria could end up as the one of the most important women in the entire franchise.

Brendan Gleeson will be playing the father of lead character Callum Lynch in the modern day. We know from an early preview, that we see will see Callum as a young boy along with his younger father (played by Brendan’s son Brian) early in the film. This means that we will meet the father in the modern day story as well, though we don’t know how. Callum’s father Joseph appears to be an active member of the assassin order, though, due to circumstances, he was never able to impart this wisdom to his son.

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The Director

Justin Kurzel has never directed a big budget action movie before. He’s better known for smaller productions like his recent adaptation of Macbeth. However, on that project, he worked with both Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, who are back with him for Assassin's Creed. This means both actors are likely confident in his ability to pull all of the vastly different aspects of the movie together.

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Abstergo is the modern focus of the Knights Templar. It's a large corporation, which funds the various templar plans. One of the key Abstergo technologies is the Animus, a machine that is able to recover genetic memory from its subjects. The key conceit of Assassin's Creed is that each of us carries in our cells the memories of our ancestors. By recovering this, the Animus can cause a person to relive the events of somebody who lived hundreds of years in the past. It would seem that Callum Lynch's ancestor during the Spanish Inquisition has some knowledge that the Templars need, and by forcing him to relive these events, they can get it.

One key difference about the movie version of the Animus is that it is a much more massive machine. The Animus of the video game is essentially an examination table that the subject gets strapped into, the action in the past takes place entirely in the mind. Here, the animus appears to be the world's most advanced virtual reality rig, where the subject physically runs around just as he does in the memory. This machine includes a large mechanical arm that keeps the subject from running outside of the machine's range. One, likely unintended, result of this is that Callum Lynch will learn how to fight like an assassin by reliving the experience of one.

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Opposing the Templars are the assassins. While the Templar order exists in plain sight, as part of Abstergo, the assassins live in the shadows. The implication of the games is that the templars have done a fairly decent job hunting down and exterminating assassins in the modern age. There aren't many left, the hiding is out of necessity, not strategy.

The assassin’s look, of a long robe with a hood is an iconic image which the movie will be continuing. Exactly how the assassins hide in plain sight when nobody else wears outfits like that is not clear, but perhaps the film will help explain that. One line in the trailer tells us that the actual Assassin's Creed, the words that they live by, will be in the film as well.

The wisdom of our creed is revealed through these words. We work in the dark to serve the light. We are assassins. Nothing is true, everything is permitted.

The assassin’s chief weapon is the hidden blade. We see a pair of these devices attached to Callum Lynch’s arms in the trailer. Each device holds a small knife-like blade that can spring forward, and then retract, so that an assassin may covertly stab a target, without anybody in a crowd even being aware that it has happened.

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The Spanish Inquisition

While the Assassin's Creed game series has covered numerous time periods, the movie will delve into an entirely new era. The games have covered the Crusades, the Renaissance, and the French Revolution, but the movie will give us the Spanish Inquisition.

As the Spanish Inquisition was actually the beginning of the Templar order, historically speaking, it makes sense that this would be a chosen time period for the film.

What we don’t know is exactly how the Spanish Inquisition will play into the film’s larger story. We do know that at least one historical figure, Torquemada, will appear as a character in Assassin’s Creed, and it’s common for real historical people to make appearances throughout the game franchise. Since the names we know from history are the people who shaped it, it’s common for them to turn out to be either or Assassins or Templars. Most of America’s founding fathers were associated with the Assassins, while loyalists were Templars. People viewed as historical heroes turn out to support the Assassins. Historical assholes are always Templars.

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Franchise Possibilities

Since the Assassin’s Creed video games are almost a yearly franchise, and 2016 will be the first year without a new console game in the series since 2008, it’s a safe bet that the hopes are that the movies will have sequels as well. Rumors have claimed that early work on the sequel has already begun. According to those rumors, Michael Fassbender will reprise his lead role in a follow-up.

If the plan is to follow the game’s structure in some way, this would make sense. The first several games followed the character of Desmond Miles, but involved him experiencing the memories of different ancestors. This would allow the movie to travel to different historical eras as well as different geographical locations. We fully expect that the Assassin's Creed movie will set itself up for sequels, and if the movie is financially successful, we will see them happen.

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.