While this article isn’t about World of Warcraft, I do have to take a moment to recognize the Warcraft movie’s massive financial success. I’m not the only one who noticed this either; there are rumours flying that Tencent is moving towards creating their own movie set in the League of Legends universe. Of course, there’s no real evidence of this yet, just boardroom whispers and a strong economic incentive.
That being said, there are some really genuinely cool stories that could play out in the League of Legends universe. The first thing that comes up in a discussion about a potential movie is that the universe, as a whole, is just too big. This is a fair point: there’s nearly a dozen regions of varying sizes and over one hundred champions, each with their own story. We’ve talked about how Riot is revamping their lore, region by region. By narrowing down the scope of the story, it’s pretty easy to see some cool potential movies emerge. If any directors or scriptwriters are looking for a place to start, here are a few of the best foundations for a movie version of such a lore-dense, narratively unfocused game.
Ionia is a region ravaged by war, invaded by Noxus and heading towards a massive civil conflict in the aftermath. The once tranquil populace are furious at the invasion, and rebelling against the elders who preach calm and order. (It doesn’t help that the elders occasionally make terrible decisions about what to do with the youth. See: Syndra.)
All of this is interesting, but it’s not the primary focus of the really fascinating Ionian story being told right now: that of Jhin, the serial killer armed and aimed by radicals. Jhin has been released and granted Whisper, his magical gun, after a long imprisonment by Shen’s master. The hunt to capture Jhin nearly tore Shen’s master, Shen, and Zed apart. Now, after Zed’s betrayal, Shen’s father’s death, and Shen’s maturation into the Eye of Shadow, the two warriors must put their differences aside and end the madman before he tears Ionia’s already frail state into a canvas of chaos. Add in Karma, as the stateswoman who doesn’t know the Golden Demon is free, and Akali as the newcomer to the twisted dynamic between Shed, Zen, and Jhin, as supporting characters. Combine all of that, and you’ve got one hell of a story that would fit nicely into the confines of a two and a half hour movie.
War for the Freljord
This one’s a bit tricky, but if executed well, would really be fun to watch. The Freljord has three major factions with a handful of important characters for each, sure, but each character has a pretty minimal backstory, and it would be pretty easy to set up the Ashe and Sejuani war with minimal boring exposition. The Freljord was one of the first regions that got a revamp, and it shows; the stories are interesting, the characters are engaging, there’s a lot of opportunities for action. Best of all, there’s the built-in third act badguy that the two heroines have to temporarily truce over: Lissandra.
This would be the most formulaic of the stories, in many ways, and is slightly reminiscent of the big superhero team up flicks of recent memory. That being said, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for an old story. It’d be fascinating to see icy battlegrounds, charging vikings, barbarian kings, and ursine warriors going toe to toe. Even if the story was a bit light, it’d be worth it to see Braum on the big screen.
Swain’s rise to power
This story would be interesting because Swain’s rise to power is something that has been in both versions of League’s lore. It capped off the end of the Journals of Justice, and returned in Sion’s relaunch promo material, Rise. Swain is an interesting guy who we know very little about: he was injured during a battle, but didn’t flinch as his mangled leg was set. He hangs out with an evil raven, Beatrice, and has some sort of link that allows him to become a giant raven monster on the battlefield. Swain sucks at the traditional Noxian pursuits of being big and carrying a huge weapon, but he’s smart. Even better, he’s befriended LeBlanc and her mysterious Black Rose.
This story is, honestly, a little political for what fans of Warcraft, or League in general, might be looking for. If you’re about to protest, remember that last ranked game you had and think on whether the jungler who called gg at four minutes because top got ganked has the patience to sit through a slow boiling political thriller in a harsh fantasy meritocracy. The Noxus story is a cool one, and it hasn’t received too much attention despite the amount of dangling threads that are going on in the region. (Seriously, what happened to General DuCoteau?)
There are two stories that are the “obvious” choices, but that I don’t think would make for a great movie: the entire Shuriman epic, and Noxus versus Demacia. My reasons are simple: Noxus versus Demacia is, at this point, too simple and seems to be the most generic good versus bad guy fantasy story around. Shurima, on the other hand, is too complex. It took two lore reboots and events to get all of the pieces aligned, set in canon, and in play. We still don’t know how that’s going to play out.
The stories above would make really great Hollywood movies, and while they’re not perfect stories and they certainly won’t be contending for any Oscars, that’s alright. In the summer months, there’s nothing better than a simple, beautifully made story with fight scenes, interesting characters, and the possibility for a sequel. If Riot wanted to follow in Warcraft’s lucrative footsteps, they could certainly do worse.