What makes a franchise great? There has to be wide range of talent in the cast, some great creatives behind the camera, enough ideas to keep things going without boring the audience, and yet it all has to be simple enough to keep viewers from being overwhelmed by lore. That’s a lot of plates to spin, and only a handful of franchises have done it successfully.
Nowadays, the biggest franchises are all in the sci-fi and fantasy realms: The Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Universe, and the Star Wars galaxy. But could the world of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves become a new contender in the blockbuster major leagues? Here’s why it has everything going for it.
First, there’s that name. This movie isn’t just called Dungeons & Dragons the way Iron Man was called Iron Man or Thor was called Thor. It’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, implying this is only one segment of the story, much like the naming conventions of The Lord of the Rings. This is is an opportunity to show us more of a sprawling fantasy world that already has some serious brand recognition.
But unlike Lord of the Rings, there’s no set story. Over the course of multiple films, the cast of characters could switch from party to party, with the occasional overlap. This is a franchise with the potential to be a series of one-shots rather than an entire campaign.
However, there is still source material, and quite a lot of it. With a variety of casts and directors, different parties can conquer classic D&D adventures in unrelated films set within the same realm. Imagine Judd Apatow directing a buddy comedy about a fetch quest, or Christopher McQuarrie doing a high octane, dragon fueled action flick.
Just as Dungeons & Dragons is a game that can adapt to any group of players and their preferred playstyle, this franchise has the potential to morph into whatever it needs to be: A rip-roaring family adventure, a snarky comedy, or a hard-hitting political drama. With the right approach to high fantasy, there could even be an Oscarbait Dungeons & Dragons movie.
D&D has always been a game limited only by your imagination. Why should the film, and any potential follow-ups, restrain themselves any more than that? Anyone can play, and anything can happen. This franchise has the ability to reflect this on the silver screen without committing to sprawling multi-part sagas and massive actor contracts. With an anthology format, Dungeons & Dragons could become the next big franchise, and a filmmaker’s dream.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves premieres in theaters March 3, 2023.