Assassin's Creed Movie: 15 Interesting Facts You Need To Know

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Assassin’s Creed movie: The long-awaited video game adaptation of Assassin's Creed will take a leap of faith on December 21st this year.

The iconic leap of faith.

Michael Fassbender will take a leap of faith this December.

The award-winning video game series Assassin’s Creed may not showcase a new game this year, but it will make its big screen debut on December 21st, directed by Justin Kurzel and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Even though the film adaptation of Blizzard’s beloved title Warcraft was met with a lot of praise, it didn’t necessarily make the breakthrough regarding video game adaptations. After its reveal in late 2015, the Assassin’s Creed film has met with huge expectations; both long term fans and newcomers to the franchise have their eyes set on Kurzel’s adaptation which aims to turn the tide of video game movie adaptations.

Here are 15 interesting facts you need to know before the film hits theatres worldwide:

1. Michael Fassbender had no idea the game even existed

Scouring the Spanish rooftops.

The assassins are ever vigilant on the Spanish rooftops.

The Assassin’s Creed movie took flight when oscar-nominated actor Michael Fassbender became involved as both producer and star, set to portray the character of Aguilar de Nerha, a 15th century Spanish Assassin, and his present day scion Callum Lynch. However, what became a point of interest for some fans was the fact that Fassbender had never played any of the Assassin’s Creed games prior to being approached for the movie role. 

Like many other actors who had to read a book or watch a television show in order to attain a deeper insight into the story of a movie which is based on previous existing material, Fassbender had to play a lot of the Assassin’s Creed games so as to understand the world and its lore that the movie was trying to recreate.

During an interview with Coming, Fassbender claimed to play the games not for a better grasp of a certain character or plot line, but for ample understanding of the game’s mechanics, which include a lot of parkour-style techniques. Fassbender hopes to portray this physical aspect of the game faithfully.

2. The movie will not follow the storylines of the games

The assassin's gaberdine.

The iconic assassin mien.

Even though the movie will be set in the same universe as the games, the creative minds behind the film decided to feature a completely unique, fresh storyline with its own original character. As a result, Crowley and Kurzel worked closely with Ubisoft in order to remain faithful to the world and lore of Assassin’s Creed as they start to build their own mythology from scratch. As most of the characters in the games have a copious backstory, director Justin Kurzel hopes to incorporate his own original story that will expand and enrich the franchise’s lore. However, one game character who will appear in the movie is Alan Rikkin, the Abstergo CEO, who will be played by oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons.

3. The costumes of the assassins took more than 2 months to make

An Abstergo facility.

Aguilar’s present day counterpart, Callum Lynch.

In order to preserve the authenticity and style of the assassin robes from the games, the costume designers spent 2-3 months making the costumes which were all hand-crafted. Each costume had eight different versions with an entire costume team devoted to each assassin. For the designers, the greatest obstacle was the design of Aguilar’s costume along with the construction of the hoods, which were supposed to maintain their point even when the actors were running around. Therefore, it took the costume designers 20-30 versions in order to create a hood resembling the ones in the game and which maintained its shape while the actors moved.

4. During the shooting in Malta, a hurricane swept away and destroyed the whole set

In the middle of combat.

Aguilar in the middle of combat.

Apart from London and Spain, the shooting of the movie also took place in Malta, which was a key location for the film. During the building of a courtyard set in Malta, a hurricane swept inland and damaged the set. The set in question was built on the same site as the amphitheatre in Gladiator.

5. It was rumored that Robert Downey Jr. would be cast as Leonardo da Vinci for a cameo

The assassin's rich embroidery.

The assassin costumes are richly embroidered.

In the fall of 2014, a rumor, which originated from a site called MoviePilot, claimed that actor Robert Downey Jr. has reportedly signed on to join the Assassin's Creed movie cast in the role of Leonardo da Vinci, who was introduced in Assassin’s Creed II as a mentor-like figure to protagonist  Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The rumor, which has long since been removed, went on further to claim that the story will be set around the events of Assassin's Creed II, with Michael Fassbender in the leading role as modern-day protagonist Desmond Miles.

6. The release date was delayed to 2016

Inside Abstergo.

Inside the Anbstergo facility.

The big screen adaptation of the games has been in development for several years and its release date has been pushed back several times. Primarily scheduled to hit cinemas on August 7th, 2015, the film was delayed to 2016. The reasons for this are unclear, however there have been claims that the film’s development has been hindered due to script rewrites, production issues and Fassbender’s busy schedule.  Nonetheless, while the film is still set to be released in the U.S. on December 21st, as a result of delays, the U.K. will have to wait a few extra weeks to see the film in theatres, the fixed date being January 6th, 2017.

7. There are a lot of past sequences in the movie

Aguilar imprisoned.

An eerie, sterile color palette pervades the modern day scenes.

Just like the games, the Assassin’s Creed movie will feature both historical and modern day settings with Fassbender being the only present day actor who appears in the past sequences of the movie. According to executive producer Pat Crowley, 65 percent of the upcoming movie will be set in modern times whilst 35 percent will be set in the past. The film’s historical setting is going to be 15th century Spain.

8. More than 900 extras were used for the sequences shot in Malta

Aguilar zoom-in.

A close-up of Aguilar.

During the film’s shooting in Malta, the team had up to 900 extras in 15th century clothes. Citing production designer Andy Nicholson, during the biggest scene filmed on the Malta set, in which Aguilar and the other assassins are put on display to answer for their crimes, there were around 800 extras all in costume, including the king, queen and the inquisitor.

9. Ubisoft handed a guidebook to the prop makers which listed out every weapon ever used in the games

Steadfast Aguilar.

Aguilar is steadfast while wielding a bow and arrow.

With Ubisoft maintaining a firm creative presence during the course of the movie’s production, the filmmakers had all the resources at their disposal so as to convey the aesthetic quality and splendor of the film. The prop makers were given by Ubisoft a Bible of every weapon from the games to use as a guide. Consequently, over 3,000 weapon props were made. Weapons taken directly out of the games and dispersed throughout the movie were treated as Easter Eggs for long-term fans of the games to discern while watching the movie.

10. The past day sequences have been shot on more earthy looking sets

Aguilar on a horse.

The austere, earthy tone of the historical sequences.

As the film’s storyline is featured as a junction of modern-day and historical elements, akin to all Assassin’s Creed games, the creative team wanted to differentiate the present day sequences from their past counterparts through the use of color palettes; this effect was achieved by the juxtaposition and use of an earthy tone for the flashbacks with a more sterile tone for the present day scenes.

11. Fassbender showed interest in the movie because of the sci-fi fantasy genre

Abstergo prison.

One of the many experiments at Abstergo.

In spite of the fact that leading actor Michael Fassbender had only just discovered the games prior to being approached for the movie, he has shown a keen interest and hope that the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie will launch video game movie adaptations on a new trajectory.

Fassbender cites The Matrix as being partly the inspiration for the movie’s story as both touch upon the sci-fi/techno genre. He also likens the movie and games’ themes to Star Wars as the struggles and contentions between the Assassins and Templars reflect the themes of the Dark side versus the Light side of the Force.

12. The toughest costume to design was of the assassin Aguilar

Another Aguilar screenshot.

Aguilar’s costume is reminiscent of the Spanish culture and tradition.

Apart from the wristblade, the classic robe with the beak-like hood remains the most iconic element of an Assassin’s mien. Director Justin Kurzel wanted the clothing to feel “ancient and beautiful, traveled and worldly”. The most challenging apparel to make was that of the assassin Aguilar de Nerha, which was designed first to set the filmmakers’ version of the Assassin. As a result, Fassbender’s costume was a fusion of 15th century Spain Moorish influence and the tribal, nomadic influence. The games’ assassin iconography and the clothing’s shape were also additional guidelines for the costume designers.

13. Fassbender prefers the theme of Assassin’s Creed over Star Wars

The bleeding effect.

A side effect of the Animus.

According to Fassbender, the American epic space opera adventure Star Wars, headed by American director Rian Johnson and Israeli producer Ram Bergman, lacks the morally grey aura of the world of Assassin's Creed. Unlike Star Wars, where there is a stark antithesis between the Dark and Light side of the Force, the Assassin’s Brotherhood and the Templar Order represent two different sides of the coin which invariably contradict one another, and whose ardent beliefs in their own philosophy are shrouded in a veil of hypocrisy.

14. Animus, a virtual reality machine is used in the movie

Callum’s further exposure to various experiments.

In the movie, modern-day protagonist Callum Lynch gains access to his heritage via the Animus, a machine which in the video games was an enormous, comfortable chair on which the subject laid on and relived their ancestor’s memories.

However, in the movie trailer, the Animus was showcased as a machine which lifted its subject high into the air for a better facilitation of the virtual reality experience. The main reasons for this creative decision were the aim toward originality and hesitance to imitate other movies besides the fact that the team wanted to make the Animus more interactive for the actors and have them be more physically involved in the entire process.

15. The director didn’t want to portray it as a superhero movie

One man army.

Aguilar versus the Spanish Inquisition.

As the Assassin’s Creed games have always aimed for historical accuracy and humane feats, Fassbender and Kurzel wanted the movie to be more grounded in reality and “to embrace what it is to be human”. As a result, the movie team used very little green screen and avoided the “quick-cut” technique in favor of having the fight take place in front of a single camera.

There was also a strong emphasis on making all the jumping and parkouring feel plausible; for example, one action sequence involved Fassbender’s stuntman free-falling 125 feet into an inflatable pad, which, by Hollywood standards, was the highest by a stunt person in the last 35 years.

The Assassin’s Creed movie stars Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson and Michael K. Williams. The movie will take a leap of faith on theatres worldwide on December 21st in the U.S. and January 6th, 2017 in the U.K.

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