Bloody, explosive mayhem is on its way. Despite not having a release date, Eli Roth’s upcoming adaptation of Gearbox Software’s Borderlands video game series has had an onslaught of casting news come out in recent weeks. The film is still in pre-production.
The Borderlands games center around a group of gun-toting explorers known as vault hunters as they scour the planet of Pandora searching for treasure and mowing down bandits. It’s one part Indiana Jones, two parts Mad Max: Fury Road, and loaded with morbid humor.
The games are first-person looter shooters which kicked off with the first entry in 2009. There have since been two proper sequels, a “pre-sequel” and a spinoff narrative based game Tales from the Borderlands.
Casting the Chaos
Earlier this week it was announced Florian Munteanu (Creed II’s Viktor Drago) would be playing the role of Krieg; a psycho bandit turned vault hunter who first appeared in Borderlands 2. He is the first character to be cast who doesn’t appear in the first Borderlands game.
Munteanu joins an already star-studded cast with several key characters already announced. The first, and perhaps most shocking casting announced was Cate Blanchett as Lilith. Lilith was one of four playable characters in the first game and has been at the center of the story going forward. She is known as a Siren, which is a woman with mysterious superhuman powers. In Lilith’s case, these powers manifest as the ability to use phase powers to turn invisible and blast energy. She is also the leader of the Crimson Raiders, a group of soldiers and adventurers.
The second big casting announcement was Kevin Hart as Roland. He is sort of a second in command to Lilith within the Crimson Raiders and also was playable in the first game. Roland is an expert soldier who is well versed in all types of weaponry. What he isn’t, usually, is funny; which makes Hart’s casting feel like an odd choice.
Jamie Lee Curtis as Patricia Tannis — an archaeologist, scientist and expert on vaults and the history and mythology around them. Tannis has a very dry and unintentional sense of humor as well as a tenuous grip on sanity.
Jack Black as Claptrap — sort of the mascot for the Crimson Raiders and the Borderlands series. Claptrap is like a wise-cracking, self-deprecating R2-D2.
Ariana Greenblatt (young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War) as Tiny Tina — an explosives expert who is just as unstable as the cache of weapons she loves toying with.
Who is Missing?
While it is somewhat surprising to see some of the names attached to this project, there are still a few key players that could figure into this story.
The most popular villain in the Borderlands series is Borderlands 2’s main antagonist Handsome Jack (pictured above). He is an incredibly arrogant and self involved dictator. He lost his parents at a young age and fell under the care of his abusive grandmother who he later killed.
Jack ended up having a daughter, Angel, who became one of six Sirens. At any given time, there are only six Sirens in the universe and when one dies, their powers transfer to someone else.
With the inclusion of Krieg, it doesn’t appear this film will stick strictly to the story of the first game so it opens the door of Jack to appear here or in a sequel. It also suggests the story won’t necessarily follow any existing Borderlands game and could be a somewhat original tale.
Commandant Steele was the main villain in the first game and leader of the Crimson Lance, a private military employed by the Atlas Corporation. Like Lilith, she is a Siren and uses her power to piece together fragments of the vault key and unleashes an alien monster. She and the Crimson Lance could act as a likely adversary in the film, especially with Roland as one of the main characters. Roland is a deserter of the Crimson Lance.
Among the heroes of the first game, the key names missing are Mordecai and Brick. Both were founding members of the Crimson Raiders with Roland and Lilith. Mordecai is a marksman who is accompanied by Bloodwing, a predatory bird-like creature which assists him in battles. Brick is more of a brute with immense size and strength.
As for supporting characters, Mad Moxxi and Marcus are two of the more notable recurring characters. Moxxi is a bar owner, seductress, and has a huge appetite for violence. She once operated a coliseum which specialized in death matches. Marcus is an arms dealer who isn’t shy about trying to make a dollar off the destruction his products bring.
Eli Roth’s Influence
To say Eli Roth helming this project as its director is cause for optimism would be an understatement. Borderlands games are a loud, wild, bloody experience. Who better to capture that tone than Roth.
In Roth’s most recent venture in the director’s chair he directed Cate Blanchett and Jack Black in The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The family fantasy/comedy was quite different from what Roth usually does but it was moderately well received.
Aaron Berg and Craig Mazin are onboard as writers. Berg is a relative newcomer who is also writing a screenplay for an upcoming GI Joe project. Mazin recently wrote for HBO’s critically acclaimed miniseries Chernobyl.
The biggest key to making this film feel like a proper Borderlands movie is balancing the gruesome violence with the snark and humor of the games. With a stream of casting news starting to ramp up we will likely be learning more soon.