When the highly anticipated Paramount+ Halo series finally drops, fans will inevitably have to get used to seeing a new Master Chief. He won’t be the same character fans are used to in the games.
Adapting a video game property to live-action or even animation is a very difficult endeavor. There are those that would go as far as to argue that it’s never once been done in a way that does justice to the source material. After all, it’s hard to find an actor that will make the audience feel as immersed in the subject matter as they would if they were literally controlling the main character. Speaking to IGN, 343 Industries studio head Kiki Wolfkill explained that she and the minds behind the Halo series are bumping up against that very issue.
It seems that the show will have to make minor changes to Master Chief, the game’s core protagonist, in order to make a live-action series at all compelling. While it was fine for him to be basically mute during large-scale battle scenes, a viewing audience is going to need a lot more to keep them interested now that they’re watching someone pull the trigger rather than doing it themselves. As Wolfkill explains in her interview, the games were designed to put the viewer inside Master Chief’s armor. Now, the Halo series needs to find a way to make the character interesting to viewers from outside the armor.
Although that may seem like an insurmountable challenge for the Halo Series, given that it’s where other game adaptations have failed spectacularly, Wolfkill sees only opportunity. She’s acutely aware of the fact that jumping from the game medium to the live-action medium means audiences are expecting the franchise to present something it hasn’t before. After a dozen games, that’s a tall order, but one that she feels the show can meet by offering more character dimension to Master Chief.
Wolfkill previously discussed her desire to take the Halo intellectual property to new heights with the Halo series in an interview with Gary Whitta’s Animal Talking. According to GameSpot, she noted that everyone had to fight the urge to simply take the first video game and make it a live-action TV series. While that certainly captivated gamers far and wide and launched Halo to the successful franchise it is today, she understands that viewers need more. Instead, she says they tried to look at what the franchise in general means to people. How they feel when playing, reading a novel or comic book, or even reliving a cut scene on YouTube.
Fortunately, it seems Wolfkill has a grasp on where video game adaptations have failed in the past and has a relatively promising philosophy when it comes to the Halo series. However, that doesn’t mean that the production of the show is not without its hiccups. It was initially scheduled to come out in 2021, but its release was waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other productions. In that time, Variety reported that showrunners Steven Kane and Kyle Killen both walked away from the project.
They were initially attached to the Halo series as co-showrunners, however, Killen departed close to the start of production because he was unable to commit full-time to the shoot in Budapest. Kane, meanwhile, took on the role of lead showrunner and will continue through season one. However, if the show is picked up for another season, he announced that he’s out so that he can return to the states after two years away in production.