Announced in early 2017 the new J.J. Abrams produced movie Overlord was been eagerly awaited by fans, partly due to the film initially being speculated as being a part of Abrams’ Cloverfield universe. Now confirmed as no longer being a part of that universe but a separate entity in itself the film has attracted more interest for its resemblance to the video game series Wolfenstein.
Upon first viewing of the spectacular trailer I was immediately struck with how much the footage reminded me of the game series, and it would appear that I was not alone in making this comparison, with a number of Wolfenstein fans taking to the internet to voice their excitement for the movie.
Overlord is set to follow two American servicemen, Private Boyce (Jovan Adepo) and Corporal Ford (Wyatt Russell) the day before the invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Overlord. Trapped behind Nazi lines the two of them attempt to destroy a radio tower in order to help the allied assault. Unfortunately, they discover a secret Nazi lab underneath the radio tower, where occult experiments have created an army of the un-dead.
The premise of the film immediately brings to mind the 2014 Wolfenstein: The New Order and 2015’s Wolfenstein: The Old Blood games released by Bethesda. As with Overlord the games follow an American serviceman behind German lines as he attempts to complete his mission, before discovering dark secret experiments that could change the course of the war.
Whilst Wolfenstein: The New Order would very quickly go on to tell a story set in an alternate 1960’s where the Nazi’s conquered the world, it’s story, and the story of how the Nazi’s managed to win did deal heavily in secret experimentation and weapons development. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a stand alone expansion that told players what happened before the first game incorporated more of the supernatural elements from the series, forcing players to go up against Nazi zombies.
Obviously, Overlord will not be following these stories or featuring the characters from the game, but the film very much shares a number of the themes from the game. Nazi’s have often been connected with the occult in fiction so it’s not exactly new, but the combination of the occult and secret experiments does feel a lot more like Wolfenstein than something like Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example.
With video game film adaptations being a very mixed bag in terms of quality, and I think I’m being fairly generous in describing it as a mixed bag, there is probably very little chance of an actual Wolfenstein film being produced, especially when the last attempt at an adaptation fell through. For many fans of the series Overlord is the closest we will get to a Wolfenstein film, but perhaps that’s a good thing. Without the need to try and emulate a video game source material and the ability to tell their own story in their own way, yet one that shares similar themes and styles, Overlord will be better than an actual adaptation.
Overlord is released in cinemas on November 9th.