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Warcraft movie to focus on Orcs versus Humans origin story

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

At BlizzCon 2013, Blizzard executives Christ Metzen and Rob Pardo, joined by director Duncan Jones, showed the first concept art and revealed new details for Warcraft, the movie adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment's 19 year old franchise.

The Warcraft movie adaptation will follow the origins of the orc versus human war, placing an emphasis on its orc heroes and villains as much as it does its human characters. The creators behind the film said at BlizzCon today that the balance between the races is a shift away from an earlier version of the film that focused mainly on humans.

Warcraft director Duncan Jones, a longtime fan of the franchise, said he wanted to give orcs greater prominence and make audiences empathetic to the race because Warcraft is about "You can be a hero, no matter what side you're on."

"Having that balance represented was something that's very important to us," said Blizzard's Chris Metzen.

Jones and Metzen revealed two of the characters at the core of the Warcraft film, human leader Anduin Lothar and his orc counterpart Durotan. Jones described the film as an "origin story" touching on the first contact of Lothar and Durotan.


Metzen said the human and orc leaders will represent the highest ideals for their respective races. Lothar, Metzen said, is a character that has been burdened with the task of protecting his kingdom, Stormwind, while Durotan believes that family and clan are paramount, and "is ultimately horrified by the idea of them getting into some dark, cursed areas." Both characters will find themselves at a crossroads in history and see themselves tested, he said.

"One of the real difficult decisions we had was what part of the lore to focus on," Jones said, saying Warcraft has "such a huge, vast timeline," that the goal was to get "to the root of what Warcraft is and where it came from."

Jones said he couldn't reveal more details about Warcraft's cast of characters, but added that for fans who know their lore, the film offers "the opportunity for some very strong female characters."

While other details were scant, the panel did show some concept art of a few key areas: Draenor, Dalaran, Stormwind and Ironforge.


Jones noted that production design on the Warcraft film is being lead by Gavin Bocquet, "who worked on a number of different Star Wars films, ironically" — because Star Wars: Episode VII and Warcraft share the same announced release date.

Throughout the film, the film's creators said they plan to use a mix of live action and computer-generated imagery, building some real sets and using on-set motion capture actors. Industrial Light and Magic will be creating the film's orcs, said visual effects director Bill Westenhofer. He described the film's action as "gritty and dirty," referencing the action of the movie Gladiator.

Westenhofer, who says he's played World of Warcraft since the game's alpha and has a level 90 Alliance mage, says he references the game world for detailed references, down to the bark and leaves of the game's trees.

Jones and company wouldn't confirm any casting details for the Warcraft film, which begins filming in Vancouver in early 2014 and has an announced release date of Dec. 18, 2015.

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