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Why Fallout’s Director Is Right to ‘Ignore the Fans’


Why Fallout's Director Is Right to 'Ignore the Fans'


Summary

  • Write for yourself, not the fans: Jonathan Nolan’s approach to creating the
    Fallout
    series is rooted in self-expression.
  • Fans misunderstood: Nolan’s focus on quality storytelling over fan-service is key to success in video game adaptations.
  • Nolan’s passion shows: Ignoring fan demands allows for a more genuine adaptation that captures the essence of
    Fallout
    .



The world of video game adaptations has seen a welcome shift in quality over the past few years. The dreaded ‘Video Game Curse’, which plagued adaptations since 1993’s Super Mario Bros., has seemingly been broken, and the horizon looks clear for the packed slate of upcoming shows based on beloved gaming franchises. One such series is Prime Video’s Fallout, created by Jonathan Nolan (Westworld).


The moment Nolan’s name was attached to the project, fans of Bethesda’s acclaimed video games felt a wave of hope wash over them, thanks to Jonathan Nolan’s phenomenal filmography as a writer. The brother of Christopher Nolan and his long-time writing partner, Jonathan Nolan wrote the short story Memento is based on and co-wrote many of Christopher Nolan’s best movies, like The Dark Knight and Interstellar. Jonathan Nolan will bring something unique to the already eclectic world of Fallout, and part of his process in creating the show was ignoring the demands of the fans. And that’s exactly why the show will succeed.


Jonathan Nolan Made Prime Video’s Fallout for Himself

Fallout

Fallout

Release Date
April 11, 2024

Seasons
1


One of Stephen King’s golden rules of writing is to ‘Write for yourself, and then worry about the audience’ — as per his acclaimed book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This is a sentiment shared by many popular creatives, most recently Denis Villeneuve paraphrased the quote when discussing his creative process for Dune: Part Two. Jonathan Nolan also shares this creative ideology.

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Jonathan Nolan discussed the writing process of Fallout at a recent press event, via T3. Nolan promptly acknowledged that attempting to appease the fans would be “a fool’s errand.” Much of Nolan’s talk at the press event revolved around his writing process, and how he weighed in the opinions and expectations of fans during production.

“I don’t think you really can set out to please the fans of anything. Or please anyone other than yourself.”


Some fans within the Fallout community have mistaken this quote for ignorance towards the source material. However, the majority of fans understood what Nolan’s sentiment actually meant. If there’s one commonality shared by three decades’ worth of failed video game adaptations, it’s that, for the large majority, many of these films sacrificed quality storytelling due to misunderstanding the content of the games, and believing fan-service is enough to make a successful video game adaptation.

Jonathan Nolan has already proved he can create quality adaptations that, not only pay respect to the original material, but improve upon them. Nolan’s work on The Dark Knight is the most prominent example. It’s no secret that Heath Ledger’s casting as The Joker was heavily criticized by fans. However, the combination of Ledger’s performance and Nolan’s script produced the best version of the character ever shown on-screen (and for some, the best version of the Joker full-stop). Westworld then cemented Nolan’s status as an expert in TV adaptations. Co-created with Lisa Joy, HBO’s adaptation of the cult-classic novel became the network’s definitive science-fiction series, running parallel with Game of Thrones in the fantasy genre.


Jonathan Nolan’s Statement Shows His Passion Towards Fallout

Jonathan Nolan’s decision to ignore the cries and demands of fans is ultimately the right choice for any creative working on an adaptation. Especially in such an open and choice-driven franchise like Fallout, every fan’s experience and favorite aspects of a game will be different. Some will relish Fallout‘s sci-fi elements, others keep returning for its signature dark humor, and many will just enjoy roaming a 1950s-inspired wasteland. To create a show that appeals to every single fan is almost an impossible task.


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Prime Video’s upcoming Fallout series won’t be based on any of the games, sparking concern over the direction it may go in.

While Nolan is ignoring the whining of some fans, he is still approaching Prime Video’s adaptation as a long-time fan of the games, and has a deep understanding of what makes Fallout so unique. Nolan’s foray into the world of Fallout began with Fallout 3, which the Oscar-nominated writer claimed consumed an entire year of his life. Jonathan Nolan even went so far as saying that his addiction to Fallout 3 nearly derailed his entire career as a writer. To anyone outside the world of video games, that sounds like a serious addition. But, to Fallout fans, it’s a sign of respect towards the lore-rich, character-driven stories that make the world of Fallout so engrossing.


Ultimately, Jonathan Nolan’s Fallout series is his own interpretation of the franchise, and features everything he (a long-time fan) would want to see in the show. The first trailers already showcase that Nolan has nailed the 50s retro-futuristic aesthetic that is synonymous with the series. In his own words:

“I think you have to come into this trying to make the show that you want to make and trusting that, as fans of the game [ourselves], we would find the pieces that were essential to us… and try to do the best version.”

Even if Jonathan Nolan wasn’t a fan of the video games, having an Oscar-nominated writer, who co-created a 7-time Emmy winning science-fiction series, at the helm is about the best news Fallout fans could hope for. Prime Video’s Fallout is looking to continue and grow from the immense success of TV video game adaptations like The Last of Us, Castlevania, and Arcane. And, with a multitude of TV video game adaptations still to come, Fallout can continue to lay the groundwork for upcoming projects like God of War and Horizon. All episodes of Fallout will premiere exclusively on Prime Video on April 11, 2024.


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