Chances are if you are even remotely familiar with video gaming, you know what Halo is. The franchise revolutionized first-person shooting, overhauled multiplayer combat into a form that was practically untouchable for the better part of the 2000s, and led the charge in making the Xbox and Microsoft the Marc Antony to Sony’s Caesar Augustus and Nintendo’s Lepidus in the Console Triumvirate.
It has grown beyond its root sin, the original Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001, into a massive multimedia franchise with 20 years of novels, comics, animation, and even a number of live-action prequel shorts to the games. Even a parody spinoff (Red vs Blue) became its own titanic success with semi-official ties to the original.
So with that kind of success, a full, big-budget live-action project of some form has been a goal for a while now, drawing in the likes of Neil Blomkamp, Peter Jackson, and more. While those plans have long fallen through, the increase in budget and developments in technology has made it possible for television to match the needed scale and spectacle of the Halo universe. 343 Studios (the stewards of the franchise since Halo 4) has teamed up with Amblin Entertainment to bring this massive IP to the small screen, if not the big one. Originally intended for Showtime, the series has now been moved to Paramount+. A first look trailer was released during the Game Awards in December 2021, and the latest full trailer premiered during the AFC Championship Game this past Sunday.
It gives a longer look at John-117/Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber, American Gods) in his iconic armor, hints of the Covenant threat (showing an encounter with Sangheili) and his AI companion Cortana (with a spiffy new look and voiced by original game VA Jen Taylor), and introduces us to Spartan super-soldier program creator and ersatz mother figure Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natasha McElhone, Californication). We even get to meet MC’s fellow Spartans Soren-066 (Bokeem Woodbine, Black Dynamite, Queen & Slim) and Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) suited up, Commander Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray, EastEnders) name-dropping the eponymous artifact, and two original characters; Human-Covenant War survivor Quan Ah (Yerin Ha, Reef Break) and the mysterious and dangerous Makee (Charlie Murphy, Peaky Blinders).
This, among other changes (like those two new characters I mentioned above), is probably why 343 Studios felt the need for a blog post explaining the new “Silver Timeline”. Quote:
‘Silver’ is the name of the central Spartan fireteam, and, of course, a nod to the ‘silver screen’ too - naturally, the name stuck. The Silver Timeline is a unique vision of the Halo universe that contains and embraces many key elements of the core canon that has spanned the last two decades, but with relevant contextual and narrative details that diverge in ways appropriate (and necessary) to the storytelling opportunities presented by the TV medium and our collaboration with creative partners.
To tell the best Halo stories we can, we want to protect the integrity, simplicity, and future of the core canon, but also not be limited by it when faced with the realities of a new medium and the process of production. As a result, we made the decision to set the Halo television series in an authentic, but independent timeline.
Or in other words:
particular subset of the audience that thinks pandering solely to them is a sound business decision on any level Gamers,
We know. We KNOW. WE KNOOOOOOOOOOOW.
Look, the first game is 20 years old at this point. It was built on an excuse plot, and we have been backfilling everything ever since. But now that we have this new opportunity to basically reboot the story without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we are going to take it.
Please don’t get weird about it, OK? It’s like the difference between the MCU and the Marvel Universe in the comics: taking the stuff that works on screen and leaving behind what doesn’t. The game canon still exists; we will still treat it with respect (as much as a billion-dollar corporation understands that word) and this doesn’t negate whatever fanfic or web show you take as your personal favorite. You will still get the basic story and a lot of shout-outs and cool moments from the games, just maybe in a different order or form.
So please, we beg you, don’t start posting multi-hour videos or Twitter screeds about how Cortana isn’t in that uncomfortable Tron latex onesie anymore. Or how we are pandering by adding a whopping TWO original characters who happen to present female. Or any other pedantic or trash-ass complaint that is more about your insecurities than actual criticism of the product.
Basically, enjoy the show and don’t be the worst. Please.”
Halo premieres March 24 on Paramount+.