Thursday, August 20, 2009

If Hollywood Produces "Ender's Game"

Over the years I've heard several suggestions that Hollywood may be trying to produce a feature-length film of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

If it ever happens, I think it'll go a little something like this:

1.) Ender will be an non-caucasian genius child from a remote, self-sustaining agricultural village, probably in Africa.

2.) After waterboarding half the African continent to locate Ender, the entirely-caucasian western military-industrial complex will kidnap him to battle school, incidentally murdering the remainder of the peaceful, unarmed villagers with depleted uranium and burning the village down with napalm in order to hide their acts.

3.) The Formics - who will never, ever, ever be referred to as "buggers" lest we think they're homosexuals - will closely resemble furry dolphins. Their peaceful intent to save us from global warming by teaching us how to satisfy our entire civilization's energy and industrial needs with nothing but bamboo and kudzu will be violently opposed by big coal, big oil, big steel, big labor, and big brother.

4.) Bonzo Madrid will be the blonde son of a prominent Klansman.

5.) The Battle Room will be the same as the Battle Room in the book, except things will explode, constantly, for no apparent reason. Fortunately, the kids will only be thrown onto their faces in slow-motion, and suffer no other physical harm.

6.) At the last minute, Ender will determine what's actually going on and try to warn the Formics about the MD Device. The Formics agree to surrender. Once they've disarmed their weapons, Hyrum Graff will destroy their planet anyway. And probably laugh.

7.) Scene disintegrates into vengeful students versus oppressive caucasian Battle School teachers. Ender kills Graff in violent, bloody, prolonged hand-to-hand combat. Mazer Rackham kills Petra. Final showdown, Ender has Rackham at his mercy but spares him. Ender turns around, Rackham draws a hidden gun from his boot, Bean leaps across Ender to take the shot and is mortally wounded. Ender snap-kicks Rackham down a huge air shaft and out an airlock.

8.) One year later. Earth is a paradise. Last remnants of Battle School staff have been chased into the depths of space, but they'll be back, repeatedly, for every sequel.

Comments and additions are invited.

UPDATE, Courtesy of Eduardo:

Ender will have a side-splitting, talking animal companion entirely rendered by CGI named Gar-Gar Blinx. He will provide most uproarious humor and comedic relief. He will talk silly, slip on things and fall down, and most importantly will have his own spin-off show on Nickelodeon with a complete line of action figures & accessories.


  1. Note: No points awarded for guessing Ender's obligatory one-liner after Rackham goes out the airlock.

  2. Never read Ender's Game, though I've heard good stuff about it. I did hear that Hollywood is supposed to be making a movie of Atlas Shrugged. Not sure if it's true, but if so it would make me cry. Anyhoo, even though I've never read Ender's Game I know a vital element that you overlooked:

    - Ender will have a side-splitting, talking animal companion entirely rendered by CGI named Gar-Gar Blinx. He will provide most uproarious humor and comedic relief. He will talk silly, slip on things and fall down, and most importantly will have his own spin-off show on Nickelodeon with a complete line of action figures & accessories.

  3. The worst Jar-Jar Binks product I ever found was bars of clear soap with little plastic busts of Jar-Jar embedded in them. They were on sale, cheap, at a closeout store and I needed soap so I picked up a bunch. The problem with a plastic bust of Jar-Jar in a bar of soap is it's very spiky.

    It's been a long while since I read Ender's Game, but I remember one of the most interesting things about it being the way Ender and one of his relatives or friends managed to change the direction of public discourse by adopting what we'd now call "sockpuppet" personas on what we'd now call "the Internet." As it turns out, there are a whole lot of clever people on the Internet and sometimes they do change the direction of public discourse. I wonder how that would be included in a movie version, if at all.

  4. I think it would involve a heavyset, white man with a space radio talk show who has a lot of angry people calling into his show and sending him emails in opposition to a benevolent, badly-needed piece of legislation. The secret, though, is that they are all sockpuppets and nothing more than calls he has prerecorded with a voice changer and emails he has sent himself from fake accounts.

    Just as it seems that the evil radio host will whip the population into senseless anger fueled by nothing but anger and the legislation will be defeated, there is a CGI-rendered scene where Ender (played by one of the Jonas brothers) rides a hover skateboard through a maze of security lasers and crashes into the radio host's inner sanctum. They have a spectacular "lightblade" battle that ends with the talk show host falling off a ledge and gripping the side for dear life. Ender, compassionate to a fault, extends his hand and offers to save the host because he is sick and needs help. The host's face twists into an evil glare and he screams, "NEVERRRRR!" as he lets go voluntarily and plummets to his death.

    Ender has to choke back tears as he hops on his hover skateboard to the next part of the movie while a sorrowful pop ballad plays in the background.

    I think it would go something like that.

  5. This is more like it. Talk, people. Eduardo, be shorter. Everybody else, be truer. You know you live for this stuff. I've only been trying to jump start the conversation.

  6. Excellent suggestions, but remember that Valentine and Peter (the public opinion "sockpuppets") were in fact Ender's sister and brother, Who will necessarily have been killed in the village slaughter when he was kidnapped.

    Perhaps they could take on the role of "good/bad guiding spirits". Rendered in glowing translucent blue, of course, as is the custom for guiding spirits. Thus will Ender's moral struggles be conveniently externalized for the lazy audience.

  7. Aside: courtesy of Usenet archives...a much, much worse Jar-Jar product.

  8. Assuming (purely for the sake of discussion) that the pseudo-Internet somehow makes it to the movie more or less intact...

    If I remember right -- now that I think about it, I read the book almost two decades ago -- the way Ender and his siblings were depicted in the book, they were unique, or at least head and shoulders above everyone else, in their ability to manipulate people through the Internet. I also seem to remember that it was exclusively a medium for thoughtful discourse (or at least I'm pretty sure the phrase "lol u fag" didn't appear in the book, not that I'm above that sort of repartee). Does anyone else remember more about how the book's depiction compares to the actual Internet we know?

    About the only other things I remember about the book are that the enemy race was an insectile hive mind, and Ender's final exam was a bitch.

    I'm pretty sure I read the first sequel, but the only memories I have of that are that Ender was exiled for saving the world, and he found a talking egg.

    It's worth noting that Orson Scott Card received what I have to figure is's highest honor:

  9. The Wiggin kids were all high-intelligence results of genetic tweaking (or at least genetic selectivity, Bene Gesserit-style) by military researchers looking for the perfect battle commander.

    Peter, the oldest, turned out too bloodthirsty; Valentine, the middle kid, was a little too tender-hearted. Ender, the youngest, a result of both sibling influences, was "just right."

    The "internet" of the books was much like the internet as we know it. As I recall it was a text-only (or primarily text) medium. So Peter and Valentine's "sockpuppetry" campaign of well-planned but philosophically opposed essays started when they were both very young, and their identities went mostly undetected throughout the span of the series.

  10. Thanks for that link, Gughunter. I hadn't read that one.

    High honor indeed.

  11. Hollywood bashing aside, I hope they make it and stay true to the book. They did okay with LOTR, the Harry Potters, etc. They know that modern geek culture will trash a movie if it branches too far off book, and geeks in turn are willing to make more concessions than they would have in the past.

    Ender's Game and its sequels (which are very different) have a companion parallel track about another character, Bean, and his arc: Ender's Shadow. Bean is black, a rescued street urchin, and I think his role will fulfill the Hollywood PC quota. But on the whole, the book is very un-PC, very 'we must do what needs to be done' -- I hope it sparks some debate and will at least give us a touchstone to apply to our real world problems (Islamic jihadists, remember them?).

  12. Are you sure Bean is a black kid? He was Greek. (Not that there aren't any black Greeks, it just wasn't the impression I got).

  13. I hope it sparks some debate and will at least give us a touchstone to apply to our real world problems (Islamic jihadists, remember them?).

    It didn't work in LotR, I doubt it will work in Ender's Game. Sam even has a very nice speech at the end of the second movie when Frodo is wavering. He tells him that there is good in the world and it's worth fighting for. Like I mentioned in another comment, liberals love LotR but don't translate it into real life. They are all about killing the crap out of orcs but they don't want jihadists so much as waterboarded. Go figure.

  14. Ender's Game wasn't fundamentally a "conservative" story anyway. It had some very anti-war themes, and some of the interactions with the "piggies" in later books could even be read as having the sort of "imperialist humans vs. innocent native populations" dreck I was carping about in the Avatar thread.

    Thing is, the series was never overtly anti-military. Even when horrible mistakes were made by the military, they were the result of legitimate misunderstanding by all parties, not some inherent core of "evil" in humanity. Neither the military leaders nor the soldiers sought violence or war, but neither did they shy away from them when survival was at stake.

    Can Hollywood get that across, as it was told in the story? I don't think so. Even in LotR, where the focus of evil was a nonhuman entity and its nonhuman cohort, they had a significantly powerful and evil human to portray in collusion with Sauron, demonstrating that as a species we're really little better than the evil we claim to fight. If Saruman hadn't existed in the books, Hollywood would've had to create him.

    There's really not an analogue for that character in Ender...Achille just doesn't get that nasty or powerful until way into the Shadow cycle.