With the recent news that the Resident Evil reboot has assembled its new cast (which looks absolutely killer), it has me excited for what that could mean for the Resident Evil franchise as a whole. I’ll say it bluntly, I didn’t like the past attempt to adapt the Resident Evil video games. Those movies are practically the poster child for bad video game adaptations. With this reboot, there’s a solid chance that could be rectified.
But the more I thought about it, I realized something: Resident Evil shouldn’t just settle for the traditional reboot or movie trilogy. It needs something more; a cinematic universe. Now I know many studios have tried and failed to do this. But with Resident Evil, I think it would be a disservice to the story if they didn’t at least try. Here’s why.
The Video Game Mythology Is Large And Dense
Since its release in 1996, the Resident Evil franchise has spawned nine main video games, a lot more spinoff video games, video game remakes, movies, animated movies, comics, novels and even a play. So yeah, it’s huge.
As you can imagine, the mythology runs deep and is dense, with tons of characters and a laundry list of viruses, zombies, mutated villains and nigh-unstoppable tyrants. There’s so much to unpack and so much to work with that it demands something far more than what we got with the first Resident Evil movies.
To flesh all of this stuff out and give it its due, they need to plan for a cinematic universe and start slowly building the story and peeling back the thick layers of mythology.
A Trilogy Format Wouldn’t Do It Justice
On that note, the typical linear/trilogy movie format just doesn’t work with Resident Evil if the creative minds in charge want to make movies that are closer to the source material. There’s just too much story to condense down into a tighter space. If they committed to a trilogy or a series of movies that told a story back to back, they’d be forced to sacrifice quite a lot.
A trilogy would condense Resident Evil down to its basic parts and only scratch the surface of what fans would want. Worst of all, it might just end up mirroring what we got with the old Resident Evil movies, i.e. all fluff and action with no substance. Resident Evil fans deserve better than that, and I think a cinematic universe would solve that problem, opening them up to tell many stories.
It Has All The Trappings Of A Cinematic Universe
Obviously, a cinematic universe is a relatively new concept championed by Marvel. At least by that model, a good cinematic universe does a few things. It introduces a larger world slowly. It teases a big bad and gradually includes said big bad more often in the overall story. It emphasizes individual characters' stories and then puts those characters together in a crossover event.
Resident Evil has all of this. It doesn’t do it in that exact order or to the same degree as Marvel, but it still has the right ingredients to make a cinematic universe work. For one, it has a ton of unique characters. From Chris Redfield and his sister Claire to Leon S. Kennedy and Jill Valentine, these characters frequently go on their own missions and then come together to tackle a mission together. Their stories are constantly intertwined. On top of that, there are plenty of side stories with other characters.
The Umbrella Corporation could work as the huge evil conglomerate that these characters will have to go up against, but there are also other huge villains that work against them, like Albert Wesker and the horrific super-mutant powers he obtains. Plus, it would be incredible if they built up to the Nemesis tyrant. All the pieces are there.
It Gives Them Time To Develop The Characters With Their Own Standalone Movies
What’s cool about the Resident Evil games is that each installment focuses on different characters in their journey. Chris and Claire Redfield often taken precedent, but other characters, like Jill Valentine and Leon S. Kennedy, get plenty of focus too.
There’s an opportunity with a cinematic universe to capitalize on that. They could further develop and dig deeper into these characters, and create entire standalone movies for them. This would allow them go on their own journeys, letting the audience get to know them better, and then having the awesome experience of them coming back together as a team in one epic horror event.
Understandably, this could be tough to pull off since only hardcore Resident Evil fans would recognize their characters. The best way to overcome this would be with the first reboot movie where all the characters would likely be together in the Spencer Mansion.
Once these characters have been established, it’s not out of the question that the filmmakers could give these characters their own standalone movies that tie into a larger narrative. That would then allow them time to grow these characters rather than struggling to juggle them all for each movie.
They Could Tackle Different Genres This Way
What’s fun about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all the genres they play around with. From Thor’s epic Norse mythology to Ant-Man’s comedy heist films, they use standalone films to not only focus on a character, but also focus on a genre. It distinguishes the movies from each other even though they’re part of a singular narrative.
Resident Evil does this with video games. While many of the video games are survival horror, they shake things up every now and again in how that’s presented. Sometimes they focus much more on action-adventure than simply survival horror. Sometimes they have the characters play detective, like in Resident Evil 4 when Leon S. Kennedy is sent to find the President’s daughter, who has been kidnapped by a cult.
I could see them tackling a ton of different genres while keeping a singular theme in the main movies. Leon S. Kennedy could be primarily be known for the detective genre, while Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine could handle the action-adventure genre. Survival horror could be the over-arching genre that ties them all together.
The Tyrants Could Be Key Villains They Work Toward
Perhaps one of the scariest things about Resident Evil is the Tyrants. The Tyrants are kind of like if an ordinary human decided to fight Thanos from the MCU. They’re big, powerful, scary-looking and tough to kill. And unlike many of the other zombie-like creatures, they have a fair amount of intelligence and often hunt down specific targets, like S.T.A.R.S. agents.
Here’s the thing though: there are multiple variations and models of the Tyrant. Some of the early models weren’t as powerful as the later versions, though they’re still nothing to laugh at, like Mr. X.
Two Tyrant models they could tease in the beginning and build toward are the T-103 and Nemesis-T Type tyrants. Both are terrifying and would work well as a big bad looming in the background. They’re also popular with video gamers and it would be way more intriguing if the filmmakers built up to their eventual appearance rather than have them show up out of nowhere.
Resident Evil is one of those unique horror franchises that went from one simple survival horror video game in the '90s to becoming a large-scale phenomenon. It’s just too immense to contain into one trilogy or series, and has everything it needs to become a cinematic universe that could give filmmakers the time and breadth to develop the characters and villains. It will be a challenge, but I think the payoff would be worth it. But what do you think? Should the Resident Evil reboot try to expand into a cinematic universe? Let us know in the comments!
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