Hopefully you caught our exclusive premiere of the Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist teaser trailer and images just a couple of days ago. (If not, what are you waiting for?) It got me to thinking that Hollywood! Adapt This! should take a look back on previous video game adaptations, specifically those of fighting games, and that I should also suggest a property that’s ripe for a new adaptation. This line of thinking led me to the rather unique take on fighting games that places its characters in a highly stylized Gothic horror world. That’s right, it’s time for a Darkstalkers movie. Hollywood! Adapt this! Hit the jump for more.
What It’s About:
First released twenty years ago, Capcom’s Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors burst forth onto arcade game screens, with home versions appearing a couple of years later. The plot of the game, which was deepened over successive iterations, takes place in an alternate Earth where the mortal and demonic realms are merging. This collision between worlds introduces reimaginings of classic monsters (called Darkstalkers), which are then hunted by Darkhunters. The most powerful from each group then battle it out to see who will rule the night, or so goes the thin storyline behind a button-mashing arcade fighter.
The real hook of Darkstalkers is in the look of the game and its characters, highly stylized (and sexualized) avatars that range from the muscle-bound vampire antagonist Demitri Maximoff and his busty succubus Morrigan Aensland, to Felicia the barely-covered bakeneko (catgirl), to Anakaris, a massive and ancient mummy. The characters are every bit as colorful and eye-catching as other games of this ilk, but the Gothic horror tone applied across the board gives Darkstalkers a little extra flavor.
Let’s be honest, most fighting video game adaptations have been lacking, to say the least. The 90s’ Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter series did the games little justice, and the 2000s’ efforts of DOA: Dead or Alive and Tekken did little better. It makes one wonder why studios choose to adapt the thinnest possible gaming storylines for their feature films; if it’s to allow for a looser adaptation and more original story, then it stumps me as to why we haven’t seen that just yet. But I digress. Thankfully, with more recent fan-fronted adaptations like Mortal Kombat: Legacy and Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, audiences are getting a much more clued-in look at their favorite video games realized on the big (or small) screen.
Darkstalkers could easily be the next step in this pattern. It’s chock full of cool and sexy characters that come with a Gothic appeal that always finds an audience (even if vampire and werewolf love is starting to wane in recent years), plus a comic-book action aesthetic that’s clearly in vogue today. The tricky thing here, as always, will be crafting an internally logical story to go along with the property’s bigger-than-life characters, rather than relying on the “Fight for the Right to Rule the World” trope that’s been used before, in spectacularly awful fashion. Relying on the Gothic elements of the series to support the plot, while thanking the Gods of Technological Advancements for the ability to bring these fantastical characters to life on screen, could be two key elements in reviving the Darkstalkers franchise and adapting it for the big screen.
The Final Word:
Darkstalkers has been adapted for the small screen in the past, sometimes fairly appropriately as in the anime miniseries Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge, and sometimes atrociously, as in the short-lived mid-90s cartoon series, Darkstalkers. The issue with the latter adaptation (in addition to poor production quality) was that it was aimed towards children. My concept for a feature film adaptation would be aimed at a slightly more mature audience … at least as far as the bounds of maturity will allow for watching scantily clad demonesses battle steroidal vampire hunters. Give us the romanticized version of Abraham Van Helsing (and not the Hugh Jackman version, though I enjoyed Stephen Sommers odd take on the material), and show us a group of hunters who can be just as monstrous as the creatures they pursue. Give us heroes with a dark side and villains we can root for, against the odds. Give us Darkstalkers.
If you’re not familiar with the Darkstalkers property, check out the (awful) intro for the (still awful) TV series adaptation, followed by the anime miniseries below:
Let us know what you think about a Darkstalkers movie in the comments, along with who you think should play the principal roles. Then be sure to tune in to Hollywood! Adapt This! next week for our latest and greatest installment in the world of adaptations!