By Jack Francis


When The Last of Us was first announced in March 2020 by HBO, as a fan of the games, you’d be forgiven for that lingering feeling of concern in the pit of your stomach.

After all, video games don’t have the best track record for live action adaptations. Uncharted, Resident Evil and Assassin’s Creed are just a few that attempted to make the jump into live action, only to never quite capture the magic that their source material possessed.

Thankfully, The Last of Us understood the assignment perfectly, with bold storytelling, pitch-perfect performances and a supreme understanding of what made the game so special, hopefully ushering in a new age for video game adaptations. Amazon and its upcoming God of War show should take plenty on board.

Much like The Last of Us, God of War is a rare blend of high-stakes action mixed with powerful, emotionally resonant storytelling that helped to transcend your typical video game. It’s for this reason that Amazon clamoured to secure the rights, and why God of War has the potential to help video game adaptations continue to break the curse of shoddiness that has plagued the genre for so long.

One sure-fire way to give God of War a chance of building on what The Last of Us has achieved is by following suit with its cast and its crew. The Last of Us is written not just by Craig Mazin, the incredible mind behind Chernobyl, but also by Neil Druckmann — the writer of the original games.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us.
Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us. HBO/Warner Media

Immediately giving the show a voice who fully understands the overall theme has been a small but masterful stroke, and one that Amazon has continued with Cory Barlog, creative director behind the God of War games, being attached to the show as an executive producer.

Barlog, who's previously opened up on his own connection to the theme of fatherhood in God of War, has a level of care that translates perfectly to the game, and you feel the depth of emotion in each passing moment. His significant role in the show should bring that emotional heft with it, translating the game to screen with the same success as The Last of Us.

Just as important, however, is the casting. We have no details for who Amazon will look towards to fill the shoes of Kratos and Atreus, our father/son protagonists, but it’s vital they cast on par with HBO and their Pedro Pascal/Bella Ramsey pairing. Pascal, known for his work in Game of Thrones, Narcos and The Mandalorian, has reached a point where you immediately buy into any of his new projects, while Ramsey was herself a Game of Thrones standout at a point where the show was beginning its decline.

Their chemistry as Joel and Ellie is tender and forceful, perfectly conveying their internal struggles of loss and loneliness, and the dynamic between Kratos and Atreus is similar. One is a hulking rage-filled god far from home, seeking peace and atonement for past sins. The other is a child, unaware of their importance, their power, desperate for paternal love. Similarly to The Last of Us, these characters have far more potential to achieve a kind of acclaim than previous attempts at video game adaptations, given the nuanced nature of their arcs.

Speaking of that fantasy setting, and particularly the action — this is essential for the show to succeed. For all of its surprisingly sensitive storytelling, God of War stands out to so many gamers for its visceral, furious action sequences. Whether dumped into a small area to combat some reanimated Draugr or fighting off a dragon while destroying the surrounding mountain range, Amazon’s God of War simply must have action sequences that match the scope, intensity and dynamism of the game.

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While obviously different to The Last of Us in this regard, a comparison can be made as to how the action can draw in viewers. The Last of Us offers a fresh take on a genre that has become quite tired over the years, replacing your typical zombies with the cordyceps infected and replacing shambling hordes with Clickers and Bloaters, all eliciting immense terror.

With God of War, the action is so brutal, so aggressive, so utterly relentless, that it can stand out above any other show of its kind. Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, The Rings of Power — all of their action sequences could pale in comparison to what God of War can bring to the screen.

Amazon has already shown its ability to create jaw-dropping scale in its original programming. The Rings of Power, while divisive among audiences, did a great job providing the scope for action set pieces and Middle-earth itself. Following this with God of War and making everything from dragons and giants to the land of Midgard itself feel huge is precisely the best way to bring this franchise to live action.

It’s a challenging trade-off, crafting something that is both intimate in its storytelling and characterisation while grand in its overall scale, but that is exactly what God of War has the potential to do. There are countless moments from the first and second games of the series that you can curate in your mind's eye as live action set pieces, knowing they will dominate the discourse for a week until the show inevitably tops it.

Most significantly however, is in the adaptation of the story. Let’s look once more at The Last of Us, which has expertly carried over the plot of the game and incorporated its wider themes but left itself room to lay new groundwork.

Take episode 3, for example – we spend the entirety of the episode building the relationship between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), right until their end, while further cementing the overarching theme of love and protection. While this relationship is alluded to in the original game, the circumstances are altered in live action and the show is better for it. It sets it apart from its source material in a powerful and memorable way.

God of War, as mentioned, has a similar story of love told across a long journey for two protagonists feeling out their connection and what it means. Along the way, the show will have plenty to opportunity to flesh their story out even more, as well as the stories of God of War’s many colourful supporting characters.

People don’t watch adaptations for beat-by-beat repetition of what they know. They want the characters and the world they know and love explored in new and refreshing ways, offering different perspectives of their favourite stories — and that's exactly what God of War has the potential to do.

God of War does not yet have a release date but is expected to land on Prime Video in 2024 — try Amazon Prime Video for free for 30 days. The Last of Us is available to stream on NOW.

Check out our Fantasy hub for more news and features, or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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