Video game adaptations don't have a great reputation, both in terms of general quality and respect to the source material, but Netflix's Resident Evil has devised a bold new strategy for dealing with the latter.
While on the surface, it appears to have very little to do with the popular franchise besides some shared monsters and the Umbrella logo, it is actually more closely connected than fans might expect.
Showrunner Andrew Dabb has confirmed that the events of the Resident Evil video games are canon to the Netflix series, with references to key events scattered throughout the eight-episode first season.
For those unfamiliar with the lore of the franchise, here are some key things you need to know.
Which games are canon in Netflix's Resident Evil?
Supposedly, all of them!
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In an interview with ComicBook.com, showrunner Dabb explained: "The games are our backstory. Everything that happened in the games exists in this world. So like, the village is there. We might not get there 'til season 5, but it is in our world. We can play with those... as we're now moving ahead."
"Everything in the games is the backstory for the show. But again, we're doling it out in pieces. We're not being like, episode three, 'meet the Redfields', episode four, 'here's Leon'. And I'm sure there's a certain part of the fanbase that would be like, 'please do that version'.
"But for us, it was more important, [to] take you on this journey. And then as the journey goes on and on, we will touch on different quarters and aspects of the mythology."
What happened in the original Raccoon City?
Netflix's Resident Evil takes place primarily in New Raccoon City, which has the unfortunate honour of being named after a doomed locale from the early games.
In the first title, released on Playstation in 1996, a special operations squad from Raccoon City are sent to investigate a series of grisly murders in the vicinity of a seemingly abandoned mansion on the outskirts of town.
They get more than they bargained for when they discover all manner of gruesome monsters inside, from undead dogs to giant spiders, all of whom were horrifically transformed by a mutagen called the T-virus.
It was leaked to the world from a secret laboratory underneath the grounds of the mansion, which agents Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine and Barry Burton manage to destroy in the most optimistic of the game's multiple endings.
Nevertheless, the virus continues to spread and just two months later, the entirety of Raccoon City is infected, turning most of the residents into ravenous zombies (as depicted in Resident Evil 2).
A handful of survivors, including Leon Kennedy and Clare Redfield (sister to Chris), manage to escape before the US government destroys Raccoon City with an experimental vacuum bomb and covers up all evidence of the outbreak.
What is the Umbrella Corporation?
The Umbrella Corporation is an enormous pharmaceutical company with a wide array of subsidiaries, which allowed it to spread its tendrils into every facet of modern life.
Secretly, they were experimenting with biological weapons, which ultimately led to the creation of the T-virus and its resulting transmission through Raccoon City.
It would later emerge that the company wanted to harness the power of the virus to develop a new species of superhumans that would bring about huge societal change, with Umbrella execs serving as their hidden puppet masters.
A key driver in achieving this goal was one Albert Wesker.
Who is Albert Wesker?
Portrayed by Lance Reddick in the Netflix series, Albert Wesker was introduced in the first Resident Evil game as one of the Raccoon City operatives (or STARS) sent to investigate that eerie infested mansion.
Eventually, he is exposed as a double-agent working for the Umbrella Corporation and seemingly killed in an encounter with an organic bio-weapon known as Tyrant, in which he was impaled on the beast's gigantic claws.
However, what the STARS squad didn't know is that Wesker had previously participated in experiments with the T-virus, which had given him extraordinary healing capabilities.
From then, he was a recurring villain across the franchise until 2009's Resident Evil 5, when a dramatic showdown with Chris, Jill and new character Sheva Alomar led to his demise in a pit of lava.
This has caused some fans to question Dabb's claim that every Resident Evil game is canon to the show, as if that is the case, the writers have their work cut out for them to explain how Wesker is back – and why his personality has fundamentally changed.
On this point, Dabb told SFX Magazine: "In game five, Wesker was blown up by a rocket launcher inside of a volcano. It happens. We’ve all been there! But the Albert Wesker on our show is the Albert Wesker after that.
"I will say there will be a very good explanation of why he is back and why he is the way that he is. That explanation does not include that he happened to be wearing volcano and rocket launcher-proof clothes."
We'll see about that...
- Read more: Resident Evil ending explained
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