Twisted Metal: What Is Anthony Mackie’s Series Based On And Who Is That Insane Clown?

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Twisted Metal

It’s been over a decade since gamers last had a Twisted Metal game to enjoy, but that hasn’t kept this franchise from making a comeback in the most unexpected way. Recently, Peacock dropped an explicit trailer for their upcoming television series based on the games, and against all expectations, it quickly became one of our most anticipated shows of the year.

To help prepare you for this killer Anthony Mackie series, we’ve put together your definitive primer on the world of Twisted Metal, including who that scary-ass clown is from the trailer.

The first Twisted Metal game debuted on the original PlayStation way back in 1995 before later coming to PC. It was short on plot and long on innovative gameplay.

Basically, players compete in a “Twisted Metal” tournament that is held in Los Angeles each year, and the competition involves pitting your own souped-up vehicle in wild vehicular combat against an array of crazy cars and crazier foes.

And from the very beginning, the ersatz mascot of the franchise has been the killer clown Needles Kane. He drives the Sweet Tooth (and, rather confusingly, is often referred to as Sweet Tooth), and his personality and appearance have only gotten more frightening over time.

twisted metal
Sweet Tooth in Twisted Metal

The basic plot of that first Twisted Metal involved competing for literally whatever drivers want. Tournament organizer Calypso promises to grant the surviving driver whatever he wants, with no limitations.

The first three games kept this basic plot, with the fourth giving us a kind of prequel origin story for everyone’s favorite killer clown. That fourth game also confirmed that Calypso derives his power from a mystical ring, and this gives him the magical ability to grant winners whatever they desire.

Needles Kane is the killer clown who drives Sweet Tooth

The franchise came to PlayStation 2 with Twisted Metal: Black, a game that mostly returned to the basic “fight for a wish from Calypso” format as the first three games. However, we do learn a bit more about Calypso, including the fact that he is malevolent and finds ways to pervert noble wishes to evil ends.

More notably, this game gives us a deeper look at the background of various drivers and introduces John Doe, the character that Anthony Mackie plays in the upcoming television series.

The first Twisted Metal game debuted on the original PlayStation in 1995

Twisted Metal: Head-On for the PlayStation Portable and its PlayStation 2 enhanced port served as a sequel to Twisted Metal 2, essentially ignoring everything that happened after the second game. And the last title we got in the mainline franchise was the PS3 game Twisted Metal in 2012, which gave us more definitive story arcs and much more detailed information about characters such as Needles Kane/Sweet Tooth.

Specifically, we discover that he was a clown-themed serial killer whose sole wish was to hunt and kill his daughter. He is angered when Calypso reveals that the daughter actually committed suicide due to her father’s actions and has already been dead for over a decade.

“Dead for over a decade” was also an apt description of the Twisted Metal franchise until Peacock announced their ambitious television adaptation of the PlayStation games, and it looks like the show makes a few minor deviations from the original source material.

The Twisted Metal series looks like it has made some major changes from the video game series.

For example, it looks like Calypso has been replaced by Neve Campbell’s Raven, though this new character similarly promises drivers a chance to get whatever they wish for. In order to get his own wish, though, Anthony Mackie’s John Doe doesn’t have to complete a demolition derby: instead, he must safely deliver a package from New San Francisco to its destination, which is a dangerous prospect in this apocalyptic dystopia.

The Twisted Metal trailer also reveals that the characters are somewhat different: rather than just being a race participant, Needles/Sweet Tooth is portrayed as the ruthless ruler of all of Las Vegas.

And while he’s all charm and quips in the trailer, it’s not clear whether Anthony Mackie’s John Doe will suffer the extreme memory loss that the character in the games suffered from. Of course, we can discover the answers along with him by tuning into this Peacock original when it premieres on July 27.