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Could the J.J. Abrams’ ‘Portal’ and ‘Half-Life’ Movies Kick Off the First Cinematic Video Game Universe?

With surprisingly successful films like ‘Detective Pikachu’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog,’ Hollywood looks to adapt more video games. JJ Abrams’ 'Portal' and 'Half-Life' films could establish a connected universe, as both lore-heavy games are set in the same universe, with connections to other Valve properties, such as 'Left 4 Dead.'

Rumors of the infamous ‘video game curse’ being lifted has piqued Hollywood’s interest in adapting video game franchises into films. Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog marked moderate successes. With more and more video game movies greenlit, the Bad Robot and JJ Abrams’ Portal and Half-Life movies could establish an even bigger change for video game adaptations

JJ Abrams at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation
JJ Abrams | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

The video game curse 

When consoles brought video games into family living rooms, Hollywood was paying attention. However, no one was exactly scrambling to adapt Pong.

As processing power improved and video games told more complex stories, the film industry pounced, producing films like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros.

Early video movies, however, were not well recieved. At best, they earned a cult following with the ‘so bad, it’s good’ crowd.

Video game adaptations became box office poison.

Even when news first broke of the JJ Abrams’ Portal movie, fans reacted with groans rather than enthusiasm. Hollywood just didn’t get video games enough for a good adaptation.

At least not before Detective Pikachu.

Paving the way for JJ Abrams’ ‘Portal’ movie

When the trailer for Detective Pikachu, fans reacted with tentative optimism. Burned so many times before, they doubted this adaptation would offer anything different.

Pleasantly surprised by a fun, snarky, buddy-cop mystery, audiences agreed that was not just a passable movie, but actually good. Then the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, while it stumbled at first, found its footing with fans after redesigns and blew away all predictions of its performance.

With fans excited about Thor’s Idris Elba cast as Knuckles the Echidna, video game adaptations seem to finally be taking off.

Excited audiences now look forward to projects like JJ Abrams’ Portal and Half-Life. Such lore-heavy properties hold a lot of potential.

How the JJ Abrams’ ‘Portal’ and ‘Half-Life’ movies could start the next MCU

From a couple of good video game movies to JJ Abrams’ Portal and Half-Life movies setting up Marvel-esque a cinematic universe seems like a jump, but Valve already planted the seeds.

Initially announced way back in 2013, the Portal movie’s progress seemed slow. Abrams confirmed to IGN that it was still being worked on.

“We actually do have a script that’s being written for the Portal movie now at [Warner Bros.]. We’re really excited about the take and the pitch, so it feels like that thing’s finally on the rails.”

Both Portal and Half-Life take place in the same universe. Cave Johnson’s (voiced by JK Simmons) abandoned laboratories that serve as Portal’s setting, Aperture Science, mention their business rival company, Black Mesa.

Black Mesa is the main setting (and catalyst) for Half-Life’s events. Each game providing separate and intertwined lore offers chances to expand in unique ways.

“[Portal’s] got enormous potential for a lot of reasons, one of which is because of the limited narrative of the game, as ingeniously told as it is, the potential of it is so huge,” Abrams told IGN. “It’s gonna be super fun.”

The fact that JJ Abrams is helming both movies makes the connected universe possibilities even stronger.

With no word on the script or casting announced for either film, the plot of JJ Abrams’ Portal movie skews closer to the plot of the first game, pitting the protagonist Chell against the psychotic AI, GLaDOS.

Audiences wait to see if Portal and Half-Life will join the likes of other successful video game adaptations like Sonic the Hedgehog and Detective Pikachu.

Related: ‘The Suicide Squad ‘ Star Idris Elba Confirms On Twitter to Voice Knuckles in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’