Avary to write and direct Castle Wolfenstein

The Pulp Fiction writer will try his pen at adapting the classic video game franchise.

Castle Wolfenstein is a classic game  from the early 80’s. The player controls an Allied operative who has snuck into an old German castle where plans for a secret Nazi weapon are being stored.

The gameplay varies significantly from the later remake Wolfenstein 3D, which was one of the earliest first-person shooters – a side-project created by the guys who were working on DooM over at Id Software.

Castle Wolfenstein was 2D, and an early example of a stealth-focused game, the hallmarks of which – limited ammunition, predictable enemy patrol routes, secret areas with treasure – were all established here, to be seen again nearly 20 years later when the Thief franchise reinvigorated the stealth genre for a generation of gamers used to linear shooting games.

One of the nice things about this project from a development standpoint is that they have very little that they must stand on to deliver the Castle Wolfenstein story.

The details I provided above are really all there is to it – at least at this stage. As long as their story includes a secret agent sneaking into a castle to steal Nazi plans, they’ve got the whole thing. There are no pesky subplots or secondary characters to get in the way of telling whatever other story they want to tell. Any details they reap from the games would likely come from the later remakes, like Wolfenstein 3D, which gave the character a name, U.S. Army Ranger B.J. Blazkowicz, or the later addition Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which established some background for the character as a D-Day beach-stormer.

Of course, Universal Pictures had similar freedom when they adapted DooM, and they slagged it pretty badly. Then again, they didn’t have a talented writer like Avary on the payroll.

The film has been in pre-development stages for about five years while talks were had about the rights, which are still owned by Id. Roger Avary has been connected to the project since the beginning, being a big fan of the later games in the franchise. It seems that all of that has been hammered out now, however, as it’s been announced that the film is now in development, and Avary will be writing and directing the feature, with backing from veteran video game film producer Samuel Hadida and his production company, Davis Films Productions.

“With [Avary] at the helm, we expect everyone will join us for a wild and fun cinematic ride that will grab contemporary film audiences with the same irreverent, hip, over the top approach that Roger brought to ‘Pulp Fiction’ and the other films he has either written or directed. It is a big action adventure but also strongly character driven and based on a very solid story,” said Hadida.

“The film involves a classic assault on the bad guys, who are nominally Nazis, more evocative of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ than the [real Nazis of] World War II. It is a vaguely futuristic retro world as fun as ‘Captain America’, which has recently been reintroduced to the world audience with great success.”

Invoking the names of both Captain America and Inglorious Basterds seems a stretch, but they do have some elements in common, like evil pseudo-Nazis. As long as it’s not the farcical Nazis of Iron Sky, I think we’ll be all right.

 “I’ve been playing the Wolfenstein games since I was a kid,” said Avary, “and feel that their outlandish sensibility has deeply influenced my own writing and directing throughout my career. I have always thought Wolfenstein, transformed and opened for the screen to wider audiences not familiar with the games, would be a major cinematic experience, which is why I introduced it to Samuel. He bought the rights, and I could not be happier that we are now embarking on this adventure.”

The filmmakers have revealed so far that the film will feature a pair of heroes: a US spec-ops and a British special agent working together. I’m going to guess that they will be opposite gendered, so that there can be some sexual tension thrown in. Hitler will be in the story, and the opposing forces will be Himmler’s SS Paranormal Division.

Castle Wolfenstein is currently in development. No production or release dates have been announced.