First Ender’s Game images are in the wild

The first images are out for Summit Entertainment’s new adaptation, and Ender isn’t as young as he once was.

Ender’s Game, originally an Orson Scott Card novel, tells the story of Andrew Wiggin (played by the talented Asa Butterfield), a third-born child, in a world where multiple births are frowned upon. When Wiggin is recruited for tactical training (for which, he learns, he was born), he is ranked as a strategic genius and quickly rises through the ranks, making friends and enemies of children from around the world – children who will one day be great leaders or generals in their home countries.

When I first learned of this adaptation, the first thing I thought was how difficult it would be to make it work with child stars. All the kids are supposed to be very young in the book, and yet much of the material is fairly tough stuff with children being incredibly cruel, and even murdering one another. Not only is that thought for audiences to like, but it would be difficult acting material for the children.

Even though I knew who the actors were, I guess I wasn’t really paying attention to their current ages. I was visualizing Butterfield the way he appeared in Merlin several years ago, but the actor is about 12 years old now, and when we see this production still, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, it’s clear that all of the Battle School kids are going to be significantly older than their depictions in the book.

Apparently this decision was made to avoid having to change actors to depict the final scenes.

“We were trying to hit that sweet spot right around 12, which Asa fits in very nicely… When you sit down for two hours, you’re just beginning to bond with an actor, and then he changes and suddenly you’re bonding with someone who’s meant to be the same person, but you know he’s a different actor,” director Gavin Hood told Entertainment Weekly.

My initial reaction is to be a bit disappointed, but the explanation does make sense, and older actors – plus a compressed time-frame for the story – will likely make the film better over all. Ender’s Game, which also stars Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, and Ben Kingsley, hits theaters November 1st, 2013.

As noted above, Ender’s Game is based on the classic science fiction novel penned by Orson Scott Card. The book itself actually started off as a short story published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Card later expanded the franchise with additional characters, plot lines, books and graphic novels, which culminated in an updated version of Ender’s Game hitting store shelves in 1991.

Ender’s Game is set in a dystopian future where Earth has barely survived two encounters with the Formics, an insectoid alien species dubbed the “Buggers.” Card depicts the aliens as exhibiting ant-like group behavior, as they are quite protective of their leader, much like ants shielding their queen on Earth. 

Ender’s Game is reportedly considered suggested reading material for a number of military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The book won the 1985 Nebula Award for best novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for best novel. Sequels and spinoffs include Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender in Exile, A War of Gift and Ender’s Shadow.