Remember when Square Enix sold IO Interactive and the future of the Hitman franchise looked bleak? That continues to be the best thing that ever happened to the company and their most beloved series. Not only did they add yet more content to their award-winning episodic experiment, not only do they have another season/game in the works, they’re about to have a TV show.
Deadline reports that Fox is teaming up with Hulu to create a television series based on IO’s hit, man. (Sorry.) The pilot will be written by John Wick creator Derek Kolstad, who is also executive producing the series. That’s one promising sign that a live-action Hitman could really work this time. Another promising sign is that Hulu hopes to turn the show into a flagship series for the streaming network. That mean’s it’s more than just a cash grab. They’re more likely to give the show what it needs to actually be good.
The Hitman series doesn’t have the best history when it comes to live adaptations. 20th Century Fox previously released two Hitman movies, and both were abysmal. While many factors went into making Hitman and Hitman: Agent 47 that bad, their biggest sin, as a fan of the games, was that they didn’t understand what Hitman was all about. They took all the careful planning, the intricate assassinations, the dark humor, and the insane methods, and through it all away. They turned Hitman into two movies about a bald guy who shoots a lot of guns. That’s not what Hitman is. Hitman is learning your target’s movements, figuring out when they’re alone. Or if they’re never alone, it’s figuring out how to cause a horrific accident with no one suspecting it’s you. It’s carefully calculating every step and wildly improvising when your plan inevitably goes awry. If you can’t turn that into compelling live-action drama, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
That’s where Kolstad’s involvement has me optimistic. Yes, the John Wick movies were big loud action flicks, but they had a craft that’s rare in those kinds of movies. Even with the tiniest bit of story, the movies made you care about a character nobody had ever heard of before. Those films displayed a mastery of pacing. The Hitman series will inevitably have its big action sequences, but I trust Kolstad to recognize that the build-up to those sequences is just as important, if not more so. And that it’s just as much fun to watch Agent 47 kill a bunch of dudes with a battle axe as it is to watch an intricate Rube Goldberg machine of death come together. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. Also, since a TV show, there may be fewer restrictions on what kinds of stories they can tell. And with a per-episode budget being much lower than a Hollywood film, that could force the show to get more creative with each assassination, rather than turning everything into a big action setpiece.
No word on a release date yet, but this is the perfect excuse to revisit some of your favorite Hitman games. The story of the series is said to be very close to the games’ mythology.