If that sounds all-too familiar, that’s because it should. Since Bioshock’s groundbreaking release in 2007, studios have been trying to bring that same success to the big screen. Sadly, as it never came to be…so would you kindly join us as we go over the failed history of the Bioshock film franchise and what we want to see in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation.
Bioshock is hands down one of the most iconic series in gaming. Released as a spiritual successor to the classic System Shock 2, Bioshock, helmed by Ken Levine, rocked the entire medium with it’s incredible art direction, unique upgradable plasmid mechanic, deep environmental storytelling, rich characters and political themes that all worked together to tell one of the most thought-provoking stories in gaming that all culminated in one of the most mind-bending twists in modern memory.The game became so beloved that it became the go-to example for gamers to point at to argue that, yes games were indeed art, which was still an ongoing debate at the time with the mainstream opinion being that videogames were all just murder, blackjack and hookers.
BioShock is set in the underwater city of Rapture, built by industrial capitalist Andrew Ryan in order to create a place where the best of society, ie the rich, pompous and privileged, could escape the “horrid” anchor that was society and build a grander city where they wouldn’t be subject to things like ethics…. Which of course quickly descended into civil war with it’s inhabitants addicted to genetic tampering serums. As Jack, you enter into the city after a plane crash and are forced to deal with the denizens of this dystopia.
With the franchise’s runaway success and intense visual style and storytelling, its by no means a shock that Hollywood attempted to try to capitalize on the success with a big budget adaptation. Take-Two announced a partnership with Universal Studios to produce a film directed by Gore Verbinski, who was fresh off his success with the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. However, the film was put on ice in 2010 due to it’s ballooning budget, an almost necessity given the series unique setting and art direction. Sadly, they didn’t decide to shop at the Circus of Values… Instead, Verbinski dropped out as director to helm Rango, but he continued to fight as a producer for the film to be given an R rating, which left many studios hesitant to jump onto the project given the typically low box office return for such films, like with the disappointing performance of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. Eventually, Verbinski and Bioshock creator Ken Levine abandoned the project, with Levine stating "I don't need to compromise - how many times in life do you not need to compromise?"