Why the Uncharted Movie Is Being Turned Into a Prequel

3 minute read

The actor who plays the new Spider-Man is finding more walls to climb. Sony announced Monday that Tom Holland, who will star in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, will also play a young Nathan Drake in an Uncharted movie based on the wildly popular Naughty Dog video game series.

Both Spidey and Drake have a talent for scaling walls, so in that sense Holland is an obvious choice. But in the video games, Drake — a treasure hunter in the vein of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones — is significantly older than the 20-year-old actor. Holland’s casting means the Uncharted movie will be rewritten as a prequel to the PS4 series, a major diversion from Sony’s original plan. Here’s what you need to know.

An Uncharted movie has been in the works for awhile

Sony announced it was making an Uncharted film way back in 2009 (even before the game’s well-reviewed sequels came out). Since then, the project has gone through a number of different scripts, directors (including David O. Russell) and actors (including Mark Wahlberg).

The most recent script was written for an adult Drake character, but Sony scrapped that idea after chief Tom Rothman saw footage from Spider-Man: Homecoming, according to Deadline. He was so impressed with Holland he decided to rethink the Uncharted project and build a second franchise around the young actor.

MORE Review: Uncharted 4 Is the Beguiling Series’ Absolute Best

Sony will reconfigure the movie as a prequel

Throughout the years, fans have questioned why the highly cinematic video game series needs a motion picture. An adaption of the games might feel repetitive: Watching Drake explore the same lost cities as a passive audience member rather than participating in his discoveries as a player could strip the series of much of its wonder. But making a prequel film may resolve some of those issues.

Drake already has a backstory

Minor spoilers for the four Uncharted video games ahead

The Uncharted video games slowly reveal information about Nate Drake’s background. As an orphan, he claimed the name in homage to the explorer Sir Francis Drake, whom he sometimes claims as an ancestor. In flashbacks, the player learns that Drake’s mother was an historian (hence his knowledge of hidden cities).

Drake fell into treasure hunting at a young age, partly as a way to uncover clues to his own past. In Uncharted 3, players learn in several flashbacks that a 14-year-old Drake met a rogue named Victor Sullivan (Sully) while robbing a museum. Sully took him under his wing and plays a major role in all four video games as a mentor to the adult Drake.

The movie will center on flashbacks from Uncharted 3

The first Sully-Drake interaction from the game will be the basis for the film. Holland does have a striking resemblance to the teenage Nate. A walkthrough of a part of Uncharted 3 below teases the dynamic between young Drake and Sully and also hints at why Sony may have been so eager to cast the Spidey actor in such an acrobatic role. Movies about a teenage Drake could still leave the door open for films about the explorer when he’s older.


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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com