In conjunction with game developers Ubisoft, Netflix has ordered sixteen episodes of an anime-style adaptation of the Splinter Cell games – and has attached John Wick writer Derek Kolstad as writer and executive producer.
The Splinter Cell franchise has lain dormant since the release of Splinter Cell: Blacklist in 2013. In the early 2010s there were persistent rumours of a film adaptation with Tom Hardy as the lead, but nothing’s been announced on that front since 2017. But now, Netflix have confirmed two seasons of the anime adaptation straight out of the gate.
With few details released beyond this, it remains to be seen whether Michael Ironside, the long-running voice actor of protagonist Sam Fisher, will be involved. Although he was missing from Blacklist, he returned to the role in 2020 for Sam Fisher’s cameo in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, performing motion capture as well as voice acting.
The John Wick franchise isn’t Kolstad’s only work, but its unabashedly action-focused approach is the most salient thing here – and Kolstad is almost exclusively an action writer. The main appeal of the games is the sneak-and-shoot action, not the fairly generic plot. Kolstad’s presence suggests the adaptation will also be focusing on the blood and thunder rather than getting lost in a rather vague story about international espionage.
While this comes at a time when video games are becoming a morecredible option for screen adaptations, not like the bad old days of the Super Mario Bros. film, Splinter Cell doesn’t quite bear the same curse. The games themselves started out as ‘Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell’, although Clancy himself had little to do with them, being themselves something of a spinoff of Ubisoft’s other franchises Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, both drawn from Clancy’s novels – and, coming full circle, Splinter Cell has gone on to spawn its own series of novels. The point is that Clancy was (and, it seems, still is) catnip for adaptations, with his books clocking up eight film adaptations since 1990, as well as Amazon Prime’s ongoing Jack Ryan.
As for the game franchise, Luca Ward, Sam Fisher’s Italian voice actor, claimed that a “conclusive episode” had been due to be released this year before a certain pandemic, and that he was “sure” it would return.
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