Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson‘s wildly popular and nerdy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has been around since 1974, but the best adaptation we’ve seen of the fantasy/action/adventure game has arguably been the 1980s cartoon series; the feature film attempts have been woefully disappointing. Joe Manganiello aims to change all that with his new D&D script.
While guesting on MTV‘s Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast (around the 53:00 mark) to talk about his role in this week’s animated release Smurfs: The Lost Village, Manganiello revealed that he had not only cowritten a draft of the film with a Carnegie Mellon pal last year, he also met with D&D content creators Wizards of the Coast to talk about “where [the film] could go, what it should look like, and what it should be.”
Here’s how Manganiello described their take on the property:
“Obviously, there’s a spectacle. There’s dragons breathing fire and lightning,” he says. “But what makes a great superhero or fantasy movie is the human aspect. It’s got to be about something. We root for those characters in Game of Thrones. Fellowship of the Ring was about friendship, this undying love for your friends. That’s something everyone can identify with.”
It sounds pretty obvious, but this core element of storytelling is what makes D&D campaigns so engaging to watch and participate in (if they’re run well), while the lack of it causes far too many blockbuster films to miss the mark.
“When a movie is about something human and real emotionally people are going to want to see. Then you get some dragons breathing fire, and hey, I’m in.”
Manganiello is currently “talking to all the right parties” to get Dungeons & Dragons off the ground, but this is very early stages at this point; there’s currently no timeline for any sort of production.
Update: Here’s the source material for Manganiello and John Cassel‘s script: Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman‘s 1984 fantasy novel, “Dragons of Autumn Twilight”, the first “DragonLance” novel. Check out Manganiello’s reveal:
Don’t believe that Manganiello knows his stuff? Watch him guest star on an episode of CelebriD&D with Nerdist folks and Geek & Sundry’s Critical Role cast: