Anime mecha saga leaping to live-action in tie-up with streaming giant, Chinese theatrical release also planned.

Whenever there’s an anime-to-Hollywood live-action movie adaptation announcement, it’s best to take it with a grain of salt, since as often as not nothing ever actually comes of them. So back in 2018, when word came that Legendary Entertainment had struck a deal with Bandai to produce a live-action Gundam movie, you had to wonder if it’d eventually meet the same fate as the live-action Evangelion and Akira movies producers promised were on the way oh so many years ago.

But it looks like live-action Gundam is indeed a go, as the project now has not only a director and screenwriter, but also an online distributor: Netflix.

Taking the controls of the live-action Gundam is American director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, whose highest-profile project so far was directing 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. Like the King Kong reboot, the live-action Gundam is being produced by Legendary Entertainment. Penning the script is Brian K. Vaughan, a veteran comic book writer whose works include Y: The Last Man, Saga, and a long list of contributions to Marvel and DC franchises such as X-Men, Batman, and Green Lantern, though no prior film scriptwriting credits.

In addition to whether any practical effects will be used (maybe with an assist from Japan’s life-size, moving Gundam statue pictured above), a big question now becomes whether this is going to be an adaptation of a pre-existing part of the Gundam franchise, or an all-new story that simply borrows the series’ iconic mecha design cues and “war in/with space is hell” theme. For its part, Netflix says:

“The story for the live-action film version of Gundam is being kept under wraps but the original Gundam series is set in the Universal Century, an era in which humanity’s growing population has led people to emigrate to space colonies. Eventually, the people living in the colonies seek their autonomy, and launch a war of independence against the people living on Earth. Through the tragedies and discord arising from this human conflict, not only the maturation of the main character, but also the intentions of enemies and the surrounding people are sensitively depicted. The battles in the story, in which the characters pilot robots known as mobile suits, are wildly popular. The Gundam universe is replete with numerous storylines of love and conflict along with the popular Gundam battles, in which the characters operate robot suits called Mobile Suits.”

The Universal Century details seem sort of superfluous if the live-action Gundam won’t be taking place in the U.C. continuity, but a brief recap of a franchise’s original concept is a pretty standard part of press releases involving long-running Japanese IPs, so the abridged Gundam history lesson could simply be something Netflix added at Bandai’s behest.

From a hardcore Gundam fan perspective, there are a few odd things in Netflix’s tweet, starting with the call to “grab your mobile suits,” since a giant robot isn’t something you really “grab” so much as hop into. And while this is indeed the first-ever “live-action feature film version of Sunrise’s Gundam for Netflix,” it’s not the first-ever live-action Gundam film, as that honor/shame goes to the Canadian-produced G-Saviour, which aired on Japanese TV in 1999.

There’s no projected release date for the live-action Gundam yet, but Netflix says that in addition to streaming through its service, the movie will get a theatrical release in China, though it’s currently unclear if it will hit theaters in other countries as well.

Sources: Twitter/@NXOnNetflix via Otakomu, Netflix
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