Netflix Adds One of the Most Classic Sci-Fi Stories in History with Blockbuster Epic

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

When Orson Scott Card first conceived of a short story about a gifted kid in a futuristic battle with alien forces, he could not have imagined the scope this work would eventually take on. Today, almost 50 years later, the film adaptation of that original work, Ender’s Game, is streaming on Netflix. 

The central theme asks how far you would go to win a war, even a war you didn’t start?

Based On The Classic Novel

The short story did so well that Card developed it into a full-length novel, Ender’s Game, in 1985. The book is named for the main character, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, a supernaturally gifted young boy enlisted to help win the war between Earth and the aliens. Card also said he chose the name because of how close it comes to “endgame” in chess. 

An Unfilmmable Story

The novel was hugely popular, winning multiple awards, including the Hugo and the Nebula. For decades, Card was sure his work could not be developed into a film because the entire experience takes place in Ender’s head. After much deliberation, debate, and discussion, he finally agreed to the version we have now.

So, we can take the word of the author and the reception by critics. Even the U.S. Marines have declared that the book stands as an excellent example of what kinds of decisions are necessary when in the midst of war. 

Changes From The Source

While the movie Ender’s Game, directed by Gavin Hood, follows the book quite closely, it must leave some things out. However, more than edits, the primary change readers of the book who watch the film will note is that the on-screen version of this story makes Ender, played here by Asa Butterfield, a much more sympathetic figure. 

The Movie Is A Lot Softer

In Ender’s Game, the novel, Ender exerts excessive force from a very young age over perceived bullies, part of what catches the attention of higher-ups in the military. His reasoning is that it is better to take extreme measures now to prevent conflict later. It must be acknowledged that Ender is only 10 years old by the time he kills two different people. Whether he needed to kill them or not is up to the reader to decide. 

In the movie, we see only one death, and it is portrayed as much more accidental.

A Cast Of Rising Stars And Hollywood Icons

Despite the changes to the story and the softening of the tone, Ender’s Game was praised for its exceptional cast, in addition to the rising star Asa Butterfield, it includes Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin, and Harrison Ford as Colonel Gruff. Author Orson Scott Card even makes a cameo, well, his voice does.

Streaming Now On Netflix

While the film got mixed reviews, it has a mostly positive following, and it has already become a cult classic since 2013. It’s certainly worth watching, but of course, as in most cases, you should read the book as well. When you’re ready to take on this heavy material, you can stream Ender’s Game on Netflix. Just be prepared to have a conflict of conscience.