Movie executives and scriptwriters have been trying to turn games into movies for decades. The last few years have seen some notable successes–Sonic, Detective Pikachu, Netflix’s Castlevania series–but so many others have missed the point. The latest example comes from a newly-leaked script for a Deus Ex movie that never made it to production (via USA Today).
Back in 2012, director Scott Derrickson was hot off of the success of Sinister–apparently the scariest movie ever made–but hadn’t yet picked up Doctor Strange responsibilities from Marvel Studios. At that time, he was working on an adaptation of 2011 game Deus Ex: Human Revolution with Sinister collaborator C. Robert Cargill. The movie was ultimately scrapped, but Scott Kinney, development executive for Prime Universe Productions, supplied a 2014 draft of the script to USA Today, along with a few interesting reveals about the process of making the movie.
Perhaps the most notable about the script is one particular change to the game’s story. In the game, protagonist Adam Jensen wakes up after an explosion with a bunch of experimental cybernetic augmentations in his body. Of course, they give Jensen all kinds of new abilities, but in the world of Deus Ex, enhanced people are treated differently from “pure” people. When asked how he’s handling the augmentations, Jensen replies “I never asked for this.”
Much of the script follows the game, but when Jensen wakes up in the hospital after the explosion, he literally asks his boss, David Sarif, to augment him for the purpose of getting revenge.
Later in the movie, though, Jensen is facing off against one of the movie’s primary antagonists, Barrett, and just as he slices off Barrett’s arm, he says “I never asked for this.” The scene is really cheesy, even compared to the rest of the script, and both of these examples miss what seems like a really important part of Jensen’s story–that he was augmented against his will. From Super Mario Bros. to Assassin’s Creed, this is one of the biggest concerns gamers have going into films based on their favorite franchises. Is it an actual adaptation, or is it just a licensed name that loses the heart of the original story?
According to Kinney, the movie was never planned to be rated R despite some really intense action scenes in the script.
“Most studios at the time–this was before Deadpool was such a huge hit with an R rating in the US–were not interested in making big-budget films intended for adult audiences only,” he said. “I think it could and should be an R-rated film if made today, and that wouldn’t be a hindrance.”
So why didn’t the movie get made? Well, Doctor Strange is at least partly to blame for that.
“We made really good progress on [the Deus Ex] script, and it’s an incredible property,” Derrickson told Empire Online. “Those folks over at CBS Films hired myself and C. Robert Cargill, I love them, they’re great people. It was a really positive process going on, and it was a little heartbreaking. Getting on Doctor Strange, this was the biggest downside of it. The fact that I needed to stop off Deus Ex. I couldn’t expect them to wait two years for me.”
According to Kinney, the studio scrapped the script because “Deus Ex wasn’t the kind of film they wanted to make or felt comfortable making” at the time, and that they planned to shift away “from making action films like Dwayne Johnson’s Faster, which they had previously financed, to films more like The Duff.”
USA Today’s story has a big chunk of the script that you can read through if you’re curious–the script feels like it has potential, even for a draft.