10 Things We Want To See In The Dungeons & Dragons Movie

The new "Dungeons & Dragons" movie is scheduled to release on March 3, 2023 and we can't be more excited — and trepidatious. Considering the debacle of its predecessor, the 2000 "Dungeons & Dragons" fantasy adventure film, this new entry into the D&D universe has a lot to prove. The original film had a lot of issues, including a total disconnect between the plot and the tone, comedy that Dimension Doors beyond cheesy and into cringe territory, over-the-top acting, terrible computer graphics, Golden Globe and an Emmy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons acting his head off either despite or possibly to spite the terrible script, and Bruce Payne wearing an absolutely atrocious shade of blue lipstick. Roger Ebert described the previous D&D film in less than glowing terms: "'Dungeons & Dragons'" looks like they threw away the game and photographed the box it came in. It's an amusing movie to look at, in its own odd way, but close your eyes and the dialogue sounds like an overwrought junior high school play" (via Roger Ebert ). We'd say that's a pretty generous assessment.

To really get the new film right, the producers will need to embrace the source material and tell a story that captures the spirit of the roleplaying game. As the game itself points out, "The 'Dungeons & Dragons' roleplaying game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and sorcery. ... In this fantasy world, the possibilities are limitless." (Via Dungeons & Dragons)

So what does success look like?  Well, we'd love to see any, or ideally all, of the following things in the upcoming "Dungeons & Dragons" film.

A Fantastic Adventure

Any roleplayer will tell you that the best roleplaying games involve really engaging plots and so it's critical that this film have a story we actually find interesting and exciting — there's no faster way to pick up some "D&D" cred than that.  According to the description submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office, the story will be centered in Faerûn, a classic setting in the "D&D" universe. "An ex-Harper turned thief escapes from prison with his partner, a female barbarian, and reunites with a no-talent wizard and a druid new to their team in an effort to rob the cheating conman who stole all their loot." From there, it seems the crew discover a more nefarious plot that could have implications affecting the whole world.

Very few other details have been revealed as of yet, but it's exciting to see that the movie will be incorporating actual locations and factions from the setting. Instead of the usual "heroic" party it looks like we'll be getting a crew who's a little more neutrally aligned and self-interested. Here's hoping the plot leans into the heist idea a la "Ocean's Eleven." There are a lot of opportunities for wacky hijinks when you plan to rob the leader of an entire city!

Great Character Development

The other essential part of any good "Dungeons & Dragons" campaign is a fun cast of characters. There's nothing like coming up with an amazing backstory and finding ways to use those details from your character's life to create exciting moments within a game. According to IMDB, we can look forward to seeing a star-studded cast including Chris Pine ("Star Trek"), Regé-Jean Page ("Bridgerton"), Justice Smith ("Detective Pikachu"), Sophia Lillis ("IT"), and Hugh Grant ("Love Actually") as the big bad evil guy. While we don't have much in the way of details about their characters yet, getting to know each party member's backstory and seeing them develop throughout the film would be a  great mirror to the heart of the classic "D&D" experience.

As the plot summary points out, the adventuring party will be composed of a rogue, barbarian, wizard, and druid. With this variety of classes, hopefully we will see some ingenuity on the part of the characters in solving problems with their unique abilities, such as the druid Wild Shaping into a bear to intimidate their way out of a bar brawl ... or maybe find some honey, fish, or something else bears classically love.

The Red Wizards

So, hold up. You might be asking, what's the deal with the Red Wizard mentioned in the plot summary? Infamous in "D&D" lore, Red Wizards are a despicable group of powerful mages from a nation called Thay, who seek to expand their influence over the land of Faerûn. Owning slaves, dealing with demons, and doing horrifying magical experiments on living beings, the Red Wizards have well earned their terrible reputations, but their research into magic, the artifacts that they hoard, and the sheer wealth of their nation gives them so much diplomatic power that the leaders of the other nations haven't truly risen up against them.

If the filmmakers wanted to really put some serious terror into D&D fans, then the Red Wizard in this film should be one of the most influential leaders of Thay, Szass Tam. If they're up against Szass, our heroes are in for a rough ride, as this wizard has lived more than one lifetime, gathering power, lore, wealth, and influence, all hidden behind a disarmingly affable personality. Wrangling control over one of the largest cities in Faerûn by bringing its dishonest leader under his thumb is exactly the kind of political move that Szass Tam would consider a step in any of his grand plans. 

No matter who the Red Wizard turns out to be, it means bad news for our heroes and potential excitement for the viewers — as long as we actually get to see them in action, instead of just hearing about them as the manipulators behind the throne.

The Grand City of Neverwinter

Neverwinter, known as the Jewel of the North, is considered one of the most cultured and cosmopolitan city-states in Faerûn. Led by the Lord Protector, the city is a part of an alliance that protects the realm from larger threats such as war, but seeing as the new lord is working with a Red Wizard this could mean dire things for the political situation. With an in-road to Neverwinter, Thay could fracture the alliance and make it easier for the evil wizards to make moves towards their ultimate goal of world domination.

Overall it would be amazing to see such a large fantasy city come to life. Neverwinter's claim to fame are the beautiful gardens that bloom year round and the multitude of skilled workers who craft everything from fine jewelry to extremely precise water clocks. The trade brings in a vast number of merchants and buyers which means we'll most likely get a chance to see a huge variety of folk from around the world. "Dungeons & Dragons" has been doing a lot of work over the years to make their world more diverse and it would be fantastic to see that reflected in the film. According to IMDb, it is confirmed that we will see at least one of the lesser known races, since a Tabaxi (humanoid cat-person) is listed in the cast, but it would be so impactful to see the whole spectrum of peoples represented in the crowds of the city.

Comedy Without the Camp

Considering that "Dungeons & Dragons" is written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who previously worked on the dark comedies "Horrible Bosses" and "Game Night," it's likely that the film will have a fair bit of comedy to it. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, Goldstein explained, "We want it to be fun. It's not an out and out comedy, but it is an action-fantasy movie with a lot of comedic elements and characters we hope people will really get into and enjoy watching their adventures." In a separate interview, Chris Pine described it as: "...it's like Game of Thrones mixed with a little Princess Bride, just a smidge of Holy Grail...John and John are killer guys. They know comedy and they know heart and we had a great cast and we had a good time making it. And that's all you can ask for" (Via Collider).

Those are some amazing films to compare to, but the idea of mixing RPG action with humor has been accomplished quite smoothly with shows like "The Legend ofVox Machina." They manage to weave the laughs in without dipping into the campy or breaking character. We're hoping that Daley and Goldstein use comedy with a thoughtful touch and don't resort to outright ridiculousness like the thief disguising himself by placing a pair of boots on his head and carrying around a stuffed cat...which is a thing that actually happened in the last "D&D" film.

Spectacular Fight Scenes

"Dungeons and Dragons" was originally designed as a war game. Many of the elements that make up the RPG still harken back to those days and focus on how to simulate combat. We're really excited to see "D&D" battles brought to the big screen in an awesome way, since monsters and heroes alike have signature abilities and spells that could make for some truly epic encounters.

If the movie sticks to the common interpretations of "D&D" classes, then we'll likely see the thief using stealth and precision to cut down their opponents while the barbarian may tap into their rage to fuel a battle frenzy. The wizard and the druid both have differing forms of magic that could light up a scene. Depending on what type of wizard the movie goes with the character could cast any number of spells, from throwing massive fireballs to summoning creatures from other planes of existence to straight-up casting a barrier that will kill anything that tries to enter it. The druid, on the other hand, will most likely lean into the shapeshifting aspect that the class is known for, but they do also pack a powerful punch when it comes to elemental magic. You don't want to anger a druid or you may end up on the wrong side of a tornado full of piranhas, which is exactly the sort of thing we hope to see!

Iconic Monsters

The "Dungeons and Dragons" RPG is chock full of highly-recognizable monsters which have terrorized players for decades, and that would be amazing to see brought to life on the big screen. Over the years, we've seen Orcs in "Lord of the Rings," a Beholder in "Big Trouble in Little China," and Vampires just about everywhere, but there are plenty of creatures that haven't had their moment in the spotlight yet. 

One of our favorites is the cuddly, yet terrifying Owlbear. It is what it says on the tin: a bear with the head of an owl. Ferocious and territorial, the Owlbear is one of the more feared predators of the forests of Faerûn and we would love to see one in all its terrifying, furry, feathered glory.

Even if the adventurers never make it to the woods, it's likely they'll at least delve into a dungeon somewhere along the way. In that case, the party may stumble into a gelatinous cube. Imagine a giant, semi-sentient chunk of gelatin that wants to melt your face off and you'll have a good idea of what a gelatinous cube is. This transparent ooze isn't very fast, but it can engulf any creature that gets near it and can sprout acid-covered pseudopods to flail at attackers. Earlier this year, Goldstein tweeted an image of a sculpture resembling the monstrosity, indicating he knows EXACTLY what a gelatinous cube is. We hope we'll get a glimpse of one of these classic horrors in the upcoming film.

Realistic Dragons

Of all the monsters of "Dungeons and Dragons," you'd think the one in the title should be featured. In the roleplaying game, dragons are intelligent and powerful foes that have been portrayed as both terrible beasts and more cultured enemies who can take on humanoid shapes and insinuate themselves into society unbeknownst to the populace at large.

One of the most tragic things about the original "Dungeons and Dragons" film was its goofy dragons. The computer animation made what was supposed to be majestic and terrifying creatures into cartoonish parodies that were as unbelievable as they were ridiculous. Even the dragons in the 1981 "Dragonslayer" movie felt more real than the ones Jeremey Irons was trying to control with his magical rod. 

 "Game of Thrones" has given us hope that we will see well designed CG dragons in the new movie. HBO's visual effects team gave the dragons a believable physicality and kept the audience from losing their immersion in the world. Hopefully the new "Dungeons and Dragons" movie will take the lessons learned from "Game of Thrones" so we can enjoy the true awesomeness these iconic creatures should rightfully command.

Drop the Overused Tropes

When your source material is as timeless as "Dungeons & Dragons," you're absolutely bound to run into some truly trope-tastic plots. And that's perfectly understandable — "D&D" started many of these common conventions, so it's not too terrible when they make their way into stories based on these worlds.

But that said, just because it's always been this way doesn't mean it's good, and one critical way for the new "D&D" movie to shed some of the stigma of previous iterations is to make sure that it doesn't lean on tropes in a way that's lazy or uninteresting.  Sure, the classic "D&D" cartoon was built on the plot that a group of teenagers rode a rollercoaster at a state fair and ended up transported into a fantasy world (it was the 80's, don't think about it too hard), but that's no excuse to see a redux of something so campy.

So we hope that the new "D&D" movie skips out on the "Artifact of Doom," the "Win to Exit," and the "Sealed Evil in a Can" tropes as much as possible. We at least hope it engages them in a way that feels fresh, exciting, and more likely to elicit cheers than groans.  Just like with the humor, a little cheese is delicious, but this is a fantastic chance to show that "Dungeons & Dragons" has grown up a bit, all the better to join together old fans and new in getting excited for all the source material has to offer.

A D&D Multiverse

If done well, the new "Dungeons & Dragons" film could lead the way to seeing an entire "Dungeons and Dragons" multiverse series get developed — a veritable Well of Many Worlds for future films to explore. We've seen the great success that Marvel has had developing the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Imagine a whole series of films covering the different aspects of the game. You could get explorations of the more modernized world of Ebberon, have a horror film set in the gothic dimension of Ravenloft, perhaps we could get an entire comedy based on the life and times of Xanathar, the delightfully insane Beholder! Considering that "Dungeons & Dragons" has been around since 1974, there is a ton of untapped material that could be translated into film. As the game's popularity has spiked over the years, there's a demand for more content based on the game, so we have high hopes that the movie will not only be a fun romp through this classic fantasy roleplaying game, but also act as a stepping stone to something greater.