In the first Assassin’s Creed game, Ubisoft let players take control of a present day character named Desmond Miles, who travels back in time, into the body of his ancestor, Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad. From this, Assassin’s Creed was a franchise unafraid to stage its secret war between Assassins and Templars directly into a religiously charged setting. The film based on the franchise, will take place with brand new characters, in a brand new timeline, and in a brand new setting. Only this new battlefield is just as potent as in the game’s, taking place during The Spanish Inquisition.
Michael Fassbender will be playing Callum Lynch, a convicted deathrow inmate who gets sent back in time to the body of his ancestor, much like in the games, through the power of a machine called the Animus. There, he reawakens as his 15th century ancestor, Aguilar de Nehra.
The Spanish Inquisition, was a campaign set out by Queen Isabella to maintain Catholicism as the dominant religious force in Spain. The kingdom, which until then saw a large Muslim and Jewish contingent, forced conversion upon its subjects or exile, and the Inquisition made ensured converts were keeping the faith, so to speak.
Adapting a brand new story for the Assassin’s Creed movie was a great choice, as that is very much in-line with how the game series operates, shifting timelines, settings, and characters with each new entry into the series. More than that, they couldn’t have chosen a better powder keg to stage their grand Templar vs. Assassin conflict than in the heart of Catholic supremacy, the church that founded and maintained the real life order of the knight’s Templar.
There’s also a practical case to be made for the new setting. Placing the conflict during the Spanish Inquisition allows the filmmakers to let de Nehra freely wage war against the Catholic Church during a time they were being — let’s say over —zealous. Staging a good versus evil narrative using the church militant would really let the filmmakers explore the sort of grand, religious campaign not seen in film really since Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.
Assassin’s Creed will come out in theaters this year on December 21.