Halo Writer Agrees: Master Chief an Empty Character

By Chris Remo, Jan 16, 2008 5:16pm PST

As much as I love the Halo series--and I do love it, a lot--I have always felt that the Master Chief is a fairly bland, uninteresting character. Hell, he's called "the Master Chief." His name is his rank. And yes, Halo fiction aficionados, I know his real name is John-394 or whatever, so maybe The Master Chief in The Books is a deep and multilayered literary presence (not that I plan on finding out), but The Master Chief in The Game is a suit of armor that talks. Occasionally. I bet he and Gordon Freeman are awesome at parties.

Anyway, it seems that Bungie writing director Joe Staten agrees. In an interview with Newsweek's N'Gai Croal, Staten revealed that in the Halo film adaptation--which currently seems to be lingering in development hell--Master Chief was actually going to be a supporting character, not the protagonist.

"In the final version of the script the Master Chief was certainly absolutely critical to the film, but there were other characters around him which carried most of it, that did most of the emotional heavy lifting," explains Staten. "The Master Chief was there in support of their story." He pointed to the Master Chief's body language (and, presumably, his grunts) as likely being unable to sustain a feature's worth of screen time.

"But wait," you might say; "Staten is only emphasizing the inherent differences between storytelling in the film medium and in video games." You may have a bit of a point there, but you have to read between the lines. I know the truth: Halo is awesome, but the Master Chief is lame.

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9 Threads | 11 Comments
  • The master chief and Gordon are really plot devices...vehicles for story telling because you just can't do character development worth a damned (not that it gets done well in games all that often (and I'm being generous there) anyway), when the player pretty much IS that character. I think in terms of story telling and character development there are a lot more interesting possibilities with the characters surrounding the player (or perhaps...the player is Marlowe...but the story is about Kurtz). In terms of focusing more on the surrounding characters, I think that is really what Valve has been trying to do with the HL2 episodes and while there's room for improvement...its a definate step up in terms of having a character that feels even somewhat developed (Alyx).

  • this is a great idea. in the movie (if it ever sees the light of day) i picture the chief being more like Capt. Speirs from band of brothers... it's been a while since i watched that, but i remember when they first introduced that character it was more or less the main characters viewing him as a total badass as he charged across a field dodging bullets to take out a german bunker or what-have-you.
    smart way to handle it... make him a legendary figure... a mystery rather than trying to humanize him and essentially recreate the character into something he's not. otherwise you end up with something like the doom movie. look what they did to our poor space marine!

  • Awesome, another game based movie that's going to suck. I don't understand why movie writers feel that when they make a movie based on a game, they have to take all the stuff that was awesome about it and change it. Doom was a good example, too much story and "emotion", too little shooting zombies in the face. Sounds like they're going to do the same thing ti Halo. The game is cool because you're a bad ass space Marine that runs around shooting aliens in the face. Why can't the movie be a good old fashioned action movie, where the Master Chief runs around shooting aliens in the face. Rambo certainly did pretty well with that.