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Fans of the Twisted Metal video game series will finally get the chance to see the vehicular-combat franchise adapted for television when Peacock releases its Twisted Metal TV series on July 27th, 2023. But will longtime fans of the games recognize what they love after all the changes made to the story and characters for the show? Using the trailers and what other limited information is currently available, this article attempts to figure out just how accurate (or inaccurate) of an adaptation Peacock’s Twisted Metal will be. Potential spoilers ahead.
Watch the Twisted Metal Trailers
The first full trailer for the Twisted Metal television series created for the Peacock streaming service has been released, giving us a look at what we can expect from the show. Check it out below.
A “first look” teaser was released a few weeks prior to the full trailer. The teaser shows a scene with series star Anthony Mackie (playing the character John Doe) in an altercation with the most well-known character in the game franchise, Sweet Tooth (played by Samoa Joe and voiced by Will Arnett).
The teaser is… interesting. Some fans of the Twisted Metal games might even call it concerning, especially given the complete lack of vehicular combat that the games are known for. Other viewers, whether they were fans of the games or not, were divided on the tone and comedy of the teaser. While the full trailer provides more of the same comedy, it does show the car combat which looks fun. But let’s dig deeper.
Comparing the Basic Premise of Twisted Metal
The Twisted Metal game series began in 1995 when the first Twisted Metal game was released on the PlayStation game console in North America. The series consists of seven main games and a spin-off made for younger players. The story of each of the main games involves a tournament put together by a mysterious man named Calypso. Competitors engage in deadly vehicular combat until only one person remains, and the winner is rewarded with a single wish granted by Calypso. The wish can be for anything they desire, including wishes that require magic or other reality-breaking methods to acquire. Players can choose to play as multiple different characters, each with their own story and ending.
The TV series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where survivors congregate in major cities that are walled off for protection from outside forces. Areas outside the cities are desolate wastelands overrun with criminals who attack each other with vehicles modified with guns and other weapons. John Doe (Anthony Mackie) is a driver who delivers cargo between cities. Doe is hired by a woman named Raven (Neve Campbell) to pick up a package, and his payment could make Doe’s “every wish come true.” During his journey, Doe works with a car thief named Quiet (Staphanie Beatriz) and comes into conflict with various people.
When looking at the games and the TV series side by side, their setups are quite different. The basic premise of being granted a wish does appear to be in the TV show in an altered form, but how that will be handled is not clear. It’s also unclear if there will be magical wish granting like in the game. There is no indication that the show will feature anything supernatural, but Peacock could just be hiding that for a big reveal at some point in the series. Twisted Metal could work without magic, but it’s such a big part of the games, especially the various game endings, that fans of the video games might be disappointed if there is nothing supernatural in the show.
For the setting, the games take place in a dark version of the real world. The Twisted Metal competitions often take place in areas like city streets and suburbs where people are living their lives like normal. The show sets the action in a desolate, apocalyptic world. The altered setting drastically changes the the tone of the violence and destruction. The games put the player in the position of causing rampant destruction (and the deaths of innocent people) as a byproduct of competing for personal gain. Even if their wish is altruistic, they’re still hurting a lot of people along the way. The trailer for the show explicitly states that the areas between cities, where most of the action presumably takes place, is filled with bad people. So, John Doe can cause all the death and destruction he wants without feeling too conflicted. This is especially true since Doe will probably be fighting in self defense most of the time given that there is no incentive to actively hunt and kill people like there is in the games.
The Characters (and cars) of Twisted Metal
Anthony Mackie plays John Doe in Twisted Metal on Peacock. John Doe is a character who first appeared in the game Twisted Metal: Black released in 2001. In that game, Doe is an amnesiac who enters the Twisted Metal competition so he can ask Calypso for the return of his memories. Anthony Mackie’s character in the TV series also has amnesia, but nothing else is currently known about the character. It’s probable that his motivation in the show is tied to him hoping to get his memory back. However, what his memories reveal are likely going to be changed for the show since in the game he turned out to be (SPOILER) an FBI agent who lost his memory while working undercover inside a doomsday cult.
The face of Twisted Metal, Sweet Tooth (aka Needles Kane), is played physically in the television series by pro-wrestler Samoa Joe, and he is voiced by Will Arnett. Sweet Tooth is characterized differently throughout the video games, but he is most often portrayed as a maniacal serial killer. In the game Twisted Metal: Black from which other main characters in the show are drawn, Sweet Tooth is sentenced to death, but a preacher curses him during his electrocution. The curse saves Sweet Tooth from death, but it causes him to live in a state of unlife with his head constantly on fire. Sweet Tooth in the show definitely looks deranged and violent. He’s almost surely still going to be a serial killer in the show, though he probably won’t be as dark as he is in the game Twisted Metal (2012) when his wish is to find his daughter so he can murder the final member of his own family.
Neve Campbell plays Raven in Twisted Metal. Like John Doe, Raven first appeared in the game Twisted Metal: Black. Her story was one of revenge. She entered the Twisted Metal tournament to make two boys pay for the murder of her best friend Kelly. Nothing is known about Raven in the TV series other than she is the person who hires John Doe to deliver a mysterious package.
Thomas Haden Church is Agent Stone in the Peacock series. There are different versions of Agent Stone in the games, but the show appears to take inspiration from the version of Stone seen in Twisted Metal: Black. In that game, Agent Stone is a police officer and SWAT team member who seeks a do-over of the time he went into a rage against a criminal and accidentally killed a woman and her children. Stone could have a similar backstory in the TV show, though the trailer only indicates that he leads other police officers who likely uses deadly force to maintain order in their territory.
Stephanie Beatriz plays a character named Quiet. Quiet is a new character created for the Peacock series. She is described as a car thief on a path of vengeance.
Other characters announced for the show include:
- Richard Cabral as Loud, an original character and Quiet’s brother.
- Mike Mitchell as Stu, one of the drivers of the monster truck Hammerhead in Twisted Metal 2 (1996).
- Tahj Vaughans as Mike, the other driver of Hammerhead in Twisted Metal 2.
- Lou Beatty Jr. as Tommy, an original character who has critical knowledge of the dangers John Doe and Quiet will face.
- Michael Carollo as Carl Roberts, a recurring character in the games who is a police officer who wants to end the Twisted Metal competition. The character’s role in the show is not known.
- Chelle Ramos as Jamie Roberts, who is a police officer and sister of Carl Roberts in the games.
- Chloe Fineman as Mary, a character in the show who could possibly be Bloody Mary from Twisted Metal: Black, a murderer in a wedding dress. However, nothing is known about the character Mary in the show.
Cars from the games can be seen in the trailer, though without official confirmation we can’t be sure their names carry over from the games into the show. The following list of cars seen in the trailer uses the names from the games:
- Roadkill – Driven by John Doe in both the TV series and in the game Twisted Metal: Black. The car might actually be called “Evelyn” in the show. The trailer shows the car’s license plate as “EV3L1N”, and John Doe appears to call his car by that name. Evelyn could also be the name of a person from John Doe’s past.
- Sweet Tooth – Technically, in the games, the ice cream truck is named Sweet Tooth, and the clown driving it is named Needles Kane. Sweet Tooth appears in every game in the franchise.
- Outlaw – Outlaw is shown as either a police car or a police SUV in the games, and it is driven by either Carl Roberts, Jamie Roberts, or Agent Stone. In the show, Outlaw appears to be driven by Agent Stone.
- Shadow – Shadow is a light-colored hearse, seen in the trailer being chased by Outlaw. In the games, Shadow is driven either by Raven or a character named Mortimer depending on the game.
- Darkside – Darkside is a black semi truck driven by either Mr. Ash or Dollface in the games. Neither of those characters is officially confirmed to be in the series.
The Change from Campy Horror to Action Comedy
The tone of the Twisted Metal games ranges from dark to campy to comedic, but all of the main games reside within the horror genre when you take into account the story segments. Every character’s story involves something dark or disturbing like death, murder, grief, regret, or madness. The endings of the characters’ paths typically end up like an episode of The Twilight Zone where there is a sinister twist. Or they have a finale like the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” where a wish is granted in a way that reshapes the wisher’s words into something far worse than the pain they were already going through.
The horror of the early games is usually campy either intentionally or just because the scenarios are so over-the-top. But the later games, especially Twisted Metal: Black (2001) and Twisted Metal (2012), are just horrific most of the time. Darkness and horror are strongly associated with the Twisted Metal games, but the TV show appears to diverge from that.
Twisted Metal on Peacock looks bright and fun. All of the clips shown so far are very heavy with the jokes which gives the appearance that the show will be an action comedy more than anything else. Of course, trailers don’t always portray the show in an entirely accurate way, but it would be a huge bait-and-switch if the show did some of the darker things seen in the video games. Like, for instance, a taxi driver who is searching for his son but ends up murdering him instead. Or a boxer who has his eyes and tongue cut out and his eyelids and mouth sewn shut. It could happen. After all, Sweet Tooth spills a lot of blood in just the trailer. It just seems unlikely.
Which is to say, the Twisted Metal television series looks like it could be entertaining, but it doesn’t look like it will be a wholly accurate representation of the games. Some of the characters will be there, and some of the ideas will be present, but the changes may be drastic. It could be similar to how the 2002 Resident Evil series on Netflix attempted to translate the games into something new and different, but it was met with mixed reactions at best. If you completely disassociate it from the games, the Resident Evil Netflix show was entertaining, but it felt too far removed from the feeling of the games to satisfy many members of its core audience. In comparison, Twisted Metal definitely looks like it’s closer to the games in terms of action, but if the overall tone of the games is lost in the show, then it might not sit well with longtime fans.
Where to Watch Twisted Metal
Twisted Metal streams on Peacock starting July 27th, 2023. It is a half-hour series consisting of ten episodes.
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