Here's The Joke Chris Pine And The Directors Had To Fight To Keep In Dungeons & Dragons [Exclusive]

This article spoils a great joke from "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves." Proceed with caution!

After "Game of Thrones" inspired a wave of fantasy projects seeking to replicate the tone (or, perhaps more accurately, the popularity) of HBO's dark, gritty, depressingly violent fantasy series, it's almost surprising when we get a new fantasy TV show or film that remembers you can have fun with the genre. This is why the scene where the harfoots sing a little walking song in "The Rings of Power" is so special and heartfelt; why "The Dragon Prince" bringing epic fantasy to young audiences is so important; and why "The Legend of Vox Machina" capturing the chaos and silly energy of tabletop RPG sessions makes for such an enjoyable experience.

This is to say, there were many ways "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" could have failed miserably. It could have been too meta like the "D&D" episode of "Community," or too ashamed of its nerdy source material like many a blockbuster movie, or too dark and focused on backstabbing and political scheming like "Game of Thrones." Thankfully, that's not the movie we got. Last year, we listed the 10 things we wanted to see in the film, including comedy that wasn't campy, iconic monsters, and a fantastic adventure — and for the most part, we got it all! Except we almost didn't get one of the best moments of the movie.

A straight arrow

In his review of "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," our own Jacob Hall argues the movie comes across as the handiwork of "two talented filmmakers [who] were allowed to go nuts and craft a fantasy adventure honed to reflect their very specific senses of humor and character." Indeed, the film feels like sitting at a table and playing a session in a world imagined by directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein ("Game Night"), complete with its own personal, idiosyncratic tone. The result is hilarious, with jokes and gags that it's hard to believe made it to the movie at all, particularly everything related to Regé-Jean Page and his character Xenk.

Speaking in an interview with /Film's Bill Bria, "Honor Among Thieves" star Chris Pine says his favorite joke not only involves Xenk, it nearly didn't make the final cut:

"I don't think anything was cut, quite honestly. I have to ask John and Jonathan about that. What I can say to that is one of the things they had to fight for, and what I was prepared to pick up my phone and call the studio about, is I don't think they wanted this moment when Xenk — who was played by Regé, who does an incredible job and who's so funny in this — leaves [the group] and walks in a straight line over a rock. And John, Jonathan, myself, we love this bit of straight line Xenk, which I think in some iterations had been cut. But thank god, it was put back in and remains one of my favorite [moments]. Really, it's, just for me, makes me giggle."

D&D is very serious business

In the film, Regé-Jean Page plays Xenk, a powerful paladin who is this movie's answer to Jesse Plemons' police officer Gary Kingsbury in "Game Night." Both characters are (comically) stoic and straight-faced while being surrounded by buffoons. But Xenk works on a different level, too. He's essentially the person who joins your tabletop RPG session with their high-level character, taking the game way too seriously compared to the other players — who tolerate them because their character is very useful against mobs of monsters — and leaving at unexpected moments.

The scene Chris Pine mentions is the hilarious culmination of Xenk's story, as the other characters mock how self-serious he is, how he doesn't get irony, and how he always walks in a straight line, which he literally does as he walks away. In any other movie, Xenk would be the main character; the fact he's kind of a joke here just proves "Honor Among Thieves" knows exactly what it's doing.

"Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" is now playing in theaters.