Go back to Wing Commander 1 and 2

Written by: Rik

Date posted: April 18, 2005


Blair

Game: In the original WC, the player character was a personality-free zone, giving bland responses to mission specifics and acknowledging your Captain’s instructions. The part was later fleshed out for the more cinematic sequel, but as far as the games go there’s very little indication of what Blair was like as a young pilot.

Movie: Freddie Prinze Jr. is also pretty bland as Blair, although that’s probably not what he or the writers were going for. In an attempt to give him some significance, we have to put up with all this stuff about him being part-Pilgrim. Apparently, the Pilgrims were super-clever maths geniuses who got a bit arrogant one day and ended up in a war with the Confederation. As a result, the other pilots don’t trust him, but luckily he’s got support from a couple of high-rankers, including Tolwyn, who fought with Blair’s father many years ago.

Verdict: Partial credit. Freddie ain’t the worst thing about the movie, but he’s not really right for the role.



Maniac

Game: The callsign is accurate, because he constantly has a crazed-look in his eyes, and because his flying style is more than a little reckless. Generally you find yourself flying with Maniac if you’e screwed up a couple of important missions, and towards the end of the game he starts to lose it completely and is taken off the flight roster. There’s no evidence of friendship between Blair and Maniac, or indeed any of the other pilots: his combat tips are usually rejected outright and cold water poured on his overconfidence.

Movie: Maniac is still a bit of a nutter in the cockpit, but in the film he and Blair are best buds from the academy, he’s generally a bit more popular than Blair and he even manages to score with a female pilot. No evidence of him going crazy, though – he really falls into the “irresponsible, enthusiastic buddy” category.

Verdict: No dice. Matthew Lillard clearly copies Biff-era Maniac, except the antagonistic banter which characterised his relationship with Blair is now gone, replaced by the bland support of friendship. The odd crazy manoeuvre may remain, but the bloodshot eyes and suicidal arrogance are long gone.



Angel

Game: French (or at least Belgian) female pilot with a friendly demeanour, always on hand to offer words of reassurance and information about the enemy. Has attained a position of responsibility by the time we get to WC2, but generally still remains partial to your company, despite the disgrace of K’Tithrak Mang.

Movie: Posh, stuck-up and English, we’re supposed to believe the pressure of being a wing leader makes her an uptight cow, but it doesn’t really work. Why Blair wants to snog her at the end I don’t know – I suppose it must get lonely in space.

Verdict: The biggest mismatch.



Paladin

Game: An ageing veteran pilot from bonny Scotland, Paladin’s one of the most respected pilots on the Claw. We know he’s from Scotland because he says things like ‘Och’, ‘wee’ and ‘laddie’ (although sadly not all at the same time). Tiring of the hectic combat life, he eventually moves into Special Ops.

Movie: Once you get past the fact that a character called James Taggart (can you get a more Scottish name?) has a French accent, this is actually one of the more accurate renditions of a WC character. In the movie, he’s a Special Ops officer masquerading as a civilian privateer, although his experience of fighter combat isn’t really mentioned.

Verdict: Paladin’s one of the better things about the movie. I won’t even take off marks for the absence of a comedy moustache.


Hunter

Game: A hotshot Australian pilot who’s constantly smoking a cigar. We know he’s Australian, because he says things like “G’Day” and “Mate”

Movie: A hotshot Australian pilot who’s never smoking a cigar, he get a little hot under the collar when Blair starts talking about Charles ‘Bossman’ Chen – because he’s dead, and so that person never existed of course. Generally he fulfils the part of ‘disapproving senior pilot’, who gets on Blair’s back about being a Pilgrim and is no fan of Maniac’s either.

Verdict: Partial credit. At least they got the accent right.


The Kilrathi

Game: The Kilrathi don’t actually feature very much in the original WC, only cropping up during the flight sequences and the brief scenes indicating how the war is going. It’s not actually until Wing Commander II that we see the Kilrathi Emperor and Prince Trakhath, and generally in the first game they’re very much a mysterious (or is that miscellaneous?) enemy.

Movie: Conspicuous by their absence for much of the film, when they finally appear on screen they’re pretty pathetic-looking. Apparently Chris Roberts wasn’t happy with their honey-monster appearance in WC 3 & 4, but these unconvincing models are no better. They try to fudge it by keeping shots of the Kilrathi brief and shrouding them in a curious green fog, but it doesn’t work. They don’t speak in English, either – it’s subtitles alien-speak all the way.

Verdict: Half-marks – despite their laughable appearance, Kilrathi screen-time is negligible, just like in the game.


Ships

Game: The fighters are a curious array of odd-looking, multi-coloured fighters, borrowing heavily from the look of contemporary combat aircraft, and look as if they might be at home in a TV series such as Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galactica.

Movie: The fighters literally borrow heavily from contemporary aircraft – apparently they used old MIGs. There’s something odd about the chain-guns at the front though – where are the lasers?

Verdict: Close enough.


So there you have it – a completely unscientific and not particularly useful test, resulting in a score of three and half out of seven. Which I guess goes to show that it despite the odd change of accent, it’s actually not entirely unfaithful to the spirit of the early games. Oh, and for those of you wondering about the absence of Admiral Tolwyn from this list, he doesn’t feature in the original game, so a comparison would be pretty redundant. Bye!