From our first glimpses of the cast, it was clear Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves took the same approach as its tabletop source material. From the outfits to the character portraits, there were symbols denoting the class of each character. The trailer, released on Thursday, revealed these classes were only part of the picture.
But could this complexity have influences beyond this one movie? It may just provide a high-profile example of an element that franchise films everywhere — especially within the Marvel Cinematic Universe — are missing.
Ask anyone who plays Dungeons and Dragons about their current character, and they’ll have plenty to say about who they are, how they fight, and what their personality is like. But not all bards are goofy singers, not all paladins are honorable knights, and not every rogue is, well, roguish.
Take, for example, Hugh Grant as Forge the Rogue. Though his class is known for stealth and sneakiness, all we’ve seen of him so far is him being very smiley and British as he drinks tea. Essentially, he’s a Hugh Grant character, just one who’s been combined with the rogue class.
Compare this to superhero teams in the MCU. Though most of its characters have a movie’s worth of origin story, their actual traits are kept simple. In fact, the original Avengers could be summarized with a tidy list of descriptors: Rich, Patriotic, Archer, Angry, Demigod, Woman. They had some depth, but often their character development was just a story to explain how they became a superhero.
The characters in Honor Among Thieves are each a singular take on an archetype, while in the MCU the characters are just the archetypes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but almost halfway through the MCU’s second decade it would be nice to see some variety.
Granted, the MCU is starting to change. Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, and Sam Wilson all inherited their superhero titles from predecessors, making them different takes on stock archetypes, and the introduction of the multiverse provided a perfect gateway to introduce countless versions of the same character. The Void full of Lokis in Loki? That’s basically what would happen if you had a party full of rogues — each the same, yet with plenty of variety.
Hopefully, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves proves to the franchise film industry that archetypes can only take you so far, and sometimes the most interesting characters come from juxtaposing elements that don’t appear to go together at all. These films succeed or fail based on the strength of their characters, so why not get some inspiration from one of the most tried-and-true character creation systems out there?
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves premieres in theaters March 3, 2023.