‘Halo’ Co-Creator Marcus Lehto Is ‘Confused’ by the TV Series: ‘Not the Halo I Made’

Paramount+‘s Halo adaptation received mixed reviews for weeks following its debut in March. While some viewers found it to be a refreshing take on the classic video game franchise, others took issue with how much it veered away from the source material. The latest person to speak out about the Halo TV series was Marcus Lehto, who worked as Creative Art Director at Bungie Studios and had a hand in creating the Halo games. Lehto shared that he enjoyed some aspects of the TV show, but he also felt a little “confused.” Here’s why.

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo, which received criticism from the game's co-creator Marcus Lehto
Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in ‘Halo’ | Adrienne Szabo/Paramount+

Paramount+’s ‘Halo’ has major differences from the video games

In a general sense, the Halo TV series does stay true to the video games. Many of the characters and settings are the same, and the general stories match — the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) battles against the alien Covenant in a race to find a network of superweapons known collectively as Halo.

However, the adaptation also makes significant changes to the lore. For starters, the protagonist, a modified supersoldier named Master Chief (played by Pablo Schreiber), takes off his helmet in episode 1 — something he’s never done in the video games. The action represents the first steps in Master Chief’s journey to find his humanity, which, again, doesn’t really happen in the games. Halo also makes changes to Master Chief’s AI partner, Cortana (Jen Taylor).

Overall, Paramount+’s Halo aims to explore its characters and their stories more than the video games do. With that said, the show’s creators put great care into the process — Halo took 265 script drafts to get it just right. They also created a separate timeline, known as the Silver Timeline, to avoid spoiling anything from the games.

Executive producer Kiki Wolfkill addressed the differences between the Halo games and TV show back in February during a Television Critics Association panel. Wolfkill said:

“Adapting a beloved video game, with 20 years of history and story and character development, is a daunting task. But it’s also really gratifying. So, for us, we really looked at this as ‘How do we take the essence of the game experience and really express it in our own voice, the show’s unique voice?’ And, so, with that, we set out to build a huge, epic sci-fi 26th-century world, with brutal aliens, with spartan super-soldiers, artificial intelligence, military politics, and ancient mystery.”

‘Halo’ co-creator Marcus Lehto had mixed feelings about the TV series

Marcus Lehto’s opinions of Halo changed quite a few times throughout season 1’s episodes, which Paramount+ released weekly between March and May. At first, Lehto shared on Twitter that he enjoyed episode 1 and wanted to watch more (seen above). However, he later tweeted that he had “lots of mixed emotions and opinions.”

“I’m not sure where the inspiration for the show comes from now. Not the Halo I made,” he wrote in another tweet.

Lehto then clarified that he didn’t hate or even dislike the Halo show. However, he noticed that it strayed far away from the video game universe.

“Some parts are interesting,” another tweet read. “Just confused by many of the choices that were made which feel pretty far outside the core fiction I helped create.”

On a more positive note, Lehto also had some compliments for Halo. He said he enjoyed “some of the battle scenes” and praised the visual effects.

Pablo Schreiber defended ‘Halo’ when it received heavy criticism

Despite the mixed reviews, Pablo Schreiber is proud of Halo. He took to Instagram in April to thank fans and leave a message for the haters.

“For all the ‘fans’ rooting against the home team, who hated the show before they saw it and disagree with what we are doing, I respect your opinion, and I love you too,” he wrote. “Because the truth is, we love the same thing. And I will keep working my a** off each and every day to make this show the best version of itself, to bring attention and respect to this [Halo] universe we love. For all of us.”

Whether fans (and Marcus Lehto) like it or not, Halo is coming back for another season. Details on season 2 remain scarce, but it’s expected to begin filming this summer. In the meantime, Halo Season 1 is now streaming on Paramount+.

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