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General Spider-Man: Homecoming Writers Talk D&D Movie

Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley talked to Hollywood Reporter about the D&D movie, it's comedic themes, and how the directors are working directly with WotC.

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They directed Game Night, and wrote Spider-Man: Homecoming. They mentioned that they had been supposed to fly here to the UK to scout locations in March, but the pandemic interrupted that.

They also mentioned comedic elements and characters in the movie, which currently has a projected release date of May 27th, 2022. No actors are yet cast.

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.


Daley plays a weekly D&D game, so he is familiar with the genre. But the pair are working directly with WotC.

We haven't been accosted by players yet, but we are working with the Wizards of the Coast, the brand holders of D&D. They are the experts. We have people there that we work with and it's pretty helpful, because as much as we know about D&D, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the 45 years of lore that's out there, so these guys are such a resource. If we need a particular spell that a [high]-level wizard could do, they could give us a list. It's a lot of fun.
 
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Russ Morrissey

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Have you tried to watch the new Dolittle movie with Robert Downey Jr? It is set in the late 1800's, yet all the animals use language and slang and such from present day. I did not even get half way through the movie before that made me turn the bluray off.
Bad movie is bad.

And if they did use authentic 19th century English, you wouldn't be able to understand them at all.
 

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And if they did use authentic 19th century English, you wouldn't be able to understand them at all.
Recording of authentic 19th-Century English:


English does get eventually unintelligible as you go back, of course. Since this thread is about a quasi-medieval fantasy movie, it may be worth noting that medieval English would not be easy going. But the language in its 19th-Century form is perfectly accessible to a modern listener.
 


Recording of authentic 19th-Century English:


English does get eventually unintelligible as you go back, of course. Since this thread is about a quasi-medieval fantasy movie, it may be worth noting that medieval English would not be easy going. But the language in its 19th-Century form is perfectly accessible to a modern listener.
That's an educated American speaking, not a West Country English Doctor. And working class people from North East England and from London couldn't understand each other.

In the books a couple of characters (one human, one animal) are explicitly "cockney".
 

Perun

Mushroom
M.A.S.K.!!!
::gurgle::

:: (manly) squeal::

I didn't know that was in the works. M.A.S.K. was probably my No. 1 favourite cartoon series when I was a kid (occasionally, that place was contended by Transformers and Masters of the Universe). Oh, man, I can't wait...
 
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Anyway, for those who think it's the end of civilisation if an American accent finds it's way into fantasyland, I would just like to point out that they mention scouting for locations in the UK. UK filming means hiring British extras, so the common people of Faerun will probably have British accents. You can stop panicking now.
 
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They don't have to use old versions of English. They managed fine with Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. It's not a binary choice between medieval English and modern day slang.
No, it seems to be a binary choice between modern English English (as heard in Game of Thrones) and modern American English (as heard in Star Trek).
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
No, it seems to be a binary choice between modern English English (as heard in Game of Thrones) and modern American English (as heard in Star Trek).
The words I used were “modern day slang”, not “modern English”, referring specifically to the comment on modern day slang vs 19th century English you were replying to in post #41.
 

The words I used were “modern day slang”, not “modern English”, referring specifically to the comment on modern day slang you were replying to in post #41.
The implication was that it would not be possible for fantasy characters to speak modern American English without using modern day slang.

But it's fine for them to use English English slang (see GoT Wildlings), since the largely American audience would not know it was slang.
 

That's an educated American speaking, not a West Country English Doctor. And working class people from North East England and from London couldn't understand each other.

In the books a couple of characters (one human, one animal) are explicitly "cockney".
There is a pretty big difference between the claims "authentic 19th-Century English is unintelligible" and "certain regional accents of English are unintelligible".

The implication was that it would not be possible for fantasy characters to speak modern American English without using modern day slang.
Technically true, but it is certainly possible to write in a more formal style where the audience doesn't notice the slang. Compare the dialogue in Guardians of the Galaxy between Peter Quill and Gamora: although both speak modern standard American English, the way they're written communicates to the audience that Quill is an actual American from America and Gamora is not. If you stop and think about it, you can realize that it would be ridiculous for Gamora to speak the way she does if she weren't also American. But the distinct markers of Americanism stay below the threshold of consciousness for the average viewer.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The implication was that it would not be possible for fantasy characters to speak modern American English without using modern day slang.

But it's fine for them to use English English slang (see GoT Wildlings), since the largely American audience would not know it was slang.
I think we’re having two different conversations.
 

There is a pretty big difference between the claims "authentic 19th-Century English is unintelligible" and "certain regional accents of English are unintelligible".
Regional accents are a lot less unintelligible now than they where 150 years ago, thanks to mass media. In the 19th century the vast majority of the population spoke with regional accents. I'm sure the animals did too.

Technically true, but it is certainly possible to write in a more formal style where the audience doesn't notice the slang.
Not only is it possible, it's the standard.

The idea that characters would not use standard English (whether British or American) is the most outrageous strawman.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
Personally I thought Tasslehoff was an interesting character. But yes Jar-Jar is a perfect examples of nope. Same goes for the thief in the first D&D-film. He singlehandedly ruined the movie. Likewise I really disliked the over the top attempt of humor from Thor in Thor Ragnarok.
Most people I've talked to loved that Thor but I'm with you.

Thor not only makes an excellent straight man, but one is needed to make that kind of comedy work.

I guess Valkyrie was the closest one to the straight man in the movie. Just not enough.
 

Most people I've talked to loved that Thor but I'm with you.

Thor not only makes an excellent straight man, but one is needed to make that kind of comedy work.

I guess Valkyrie was the closest one to the straight man in the movie. Just not enough.
Banner is the straight man when he is on screen. But the "other guy", clearly, is not.
 

humble minion

Adventurer
Most people I've talked to loved that Thor but I'm with you.

Thor not only makes an excellent straight man, but one is needed to make that kind of comedy work.

I guess Valkyrie was the closest one to the straight man in the movie. Just not enough.
I loved Thor Ragnarok, but the humour in that film 100% would not have worked had the characters of Thor, Hulk, Loki etc not already been established in the previous films. Marvel's humour (which I very much enjoy, don't get me wrong!) is heavily based on riffing on the familiar. Guardians of the Galaxy's humour riffed heavily on the whole 70s music/culture thing. Most of the more recent Marvel films are able to riff on previous Marvel films, and the characters that have been built up over a dozen-odd hours of screentime. Damn near every Nick Fury joke in the entire series has riffed off the audience's knowledge of the roles Samuel L Jackson has played previously. And so on and so on.

That style of referential humour can be a double-edged sword. It's good because at it's best it's immersive and the humour itself can be a way of illustrating characters, so it can be incorporated naturally without having to write the entire script around the jokes. The downside is that you risk stuffing the films so full of in-jokes that you baffle people unfamilar with what you're referencing. That'd be the risk with a D&D movie. You'd be working with a tabula rasa, with characters you'd have to establish from scratch. You have to build them up before you can use them to their fullest extent in the humour, and the sort of pop culture jokes that GotG was so heavy on would be ridiculously anachronistic in a D&D film.

Not saying it can't be done, but it'd need an excellent scriptwriter.
 

I don't agree that GotG was entierly dependant on pop culture jokes. For example, most of the Drax jokes and Groot jokes where linguistic in character and had nothing to do with pop culture. Rocket jokes where based on the dichotomy of being small, furry and psychotic. Even Quill's "dance off" joke would have worked with a D&D bard. Gotta get Performance skill checks in there somewhere!

And Iron Man could not draw on references to previous films, on account of being the first one, but still managed to be plenty funny.
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Thrall of Coot.
I don't agree that GotG was entierly dependant on pop culture jokes. For example, most of the Drax jokes and Groot jokes where linguistic in character and had nothing to do with pop culture. Rocket jokes where based on the dichotomy of being small, furry and psychotic. Even Quill's "dance off" joke would have worked with a D&D bard. Gotta get Performance skill checks in there somewhere!
No! I hope you're joking about the performance checks; actual mechanics or fidelity to the rules of D&D tends to be the death of good fiction.

A common complaint about the more entertaining podcasts/youtubes/twitch streams of D&D is the extent to which they fudge or break the rules. I happen to think that it isn't a coincidence.

And Iron Man could not draw on references to previous films, on account of being the first one, but still managed to be plenty funny.
I think we often forget that Iron Man was lucky in so many way, but they main way is that it happened to get an amazingly charismatic star at the height of his powers. I'm not sure there are many times you can catch lightning in a bottle in the way that RDJ playing Tony Stark did (maybe ... maybe Depp in the first go-around as Captain Jack). But if you think back to it, the movie is rightly considered great for stating the MCU on its path, but you really have to strain to remember much about, well, the plot, the villain, the action sequences, and so on.

But you immediately remember RDJ standing in front of the Jericho test. In fact, the most iconic moment of the movie "I am Iron Man" was a Downey ad lib.

There are very few Kubricks out there. Most movie-making is an alchemy of luck, and it's a wondrous surprise when a movie gets made at all, and the interplay of the script, the cinematography, the editing, and the acting choices often come out in surprising ways.
 

Dausuul

Legend
"The challenge is to approach it as you would a much smaller movie, and not get caught up in the fact that you have $100 million-plus to spend and start thinking about the biggest set pieces you can construct. Rather, focus on the stuff that makes it special and makes an audience invest — and that's the characters. That's in the stuff you don't need a lot of money to do right. That's how we approached The Flash and that's how we're approaching D&D."

This is what I really, really wanted to hear. It's not a guarantee that the movie won't suck--there are no such guarantees; the vast majority of movies suck, any movie that doesn't is bucking the odds--but it means there is a greater likelihood of it not sucking, and a possibility that it will be awesome.
 

I think we often forget that Iron Man was lucky in so many way, but they main way is that it happened to get an amazingly charismatic star at the height of his powers.
When Iron Man was made RDJ was not considered to be at the "height of his powers" - he was considered a washed up liability. That's how they where able to afford him for a relatively low budget (compared to what followed) movie. But like the character he played he pulled himself together and made good.

But when it comes to humour, the joke is pretty much irrelevant - it's the delivery that matters. A good cast is at least as important as a good script.
 

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