Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix debuted a teaser at Ubisoft Forward, offering a first look at the new Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon-inspired animated series coming to Netflix this fall. An homage to early ‘90s pop culture, the series is not a traditional adaptation, and features remixed versions of established, notable characters from different Ubisoft franchises, including Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed.
Ubisoft News spoke with Executive Producer and Creator Adi Shankar (Castlevania) to learn more about super-soldier Dolph Laserhawk, the show’s setting of Eden in 1992, and remixed Ubisoft characters featured in the show.
Where does the story of Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix take place? What happened to the US?
Adi Shankar: Eden is a megacorporation that has taken over North America. In this alternate timeline, automation got introduced in the 1950s, created immediate mass unemployment and then the largest tech company at the time, Eden, introduced Universal Basic Income to pull the population out of poverty. Eden’s like, everyone just gets paid a weekly credit because you're a citizen of Eden, and as a result everyone’s really happy. It starts feeling like a utopia. Then a few years go by, and then Eden's like, “Oh, hey, your credits are worth double if you use them in our stores, triple if they’re used on Eden products.” And then all of a sudden, they become the economy, and then they start exerting social control and they're like, “OK, well, if you agree to do X, Y, and Z, you get extra universal basic income credits. If you don't do X, Y, and Z, you get docked credits,” so Eden quickly devolves into a dystopian social credit propaganda surveillance state.
We see the protagonist from Watch Dogs 2, Marcus Holloway, at the start of the teaser, but he’s much older. How does Marcus fit into the story and what role does he play?
AS: North America is now Eden, except Texas, which is this little enclave of resistance that’s been annexed, and Marcus Holloway from Watch Dogs 2 is the leader of this enclave. Why he’s their leader is a spoiler, but it’s the same character from Watch Dogs 2 but dropped into this universe. So, in this timeline, we’re asking, how would this character react to and evolve within this ecosystem, this economic structure, and this unique brand of dystopia?
What can you tell us about Dolph Laserhawk? What motivates Dolph at the start of the series?
AS: Dolph is a character that doesn't know himself, but he wants to. He's trying to find himself and, on the surface, he's this stoic action hero with these crazy abilities, he's a renegade man on the run. But below the surface, he's completely confused. He's in this state of identity crisis, and he becomes a mirror for whomever is around him. And he just starts unconsciously molding into them. So Dolph is this juxtaposition of an epically badass, hyper-confident-in-terms-of-physical-prowess character, but emotionally stunted hurt kid.
At the start of the series, he's on his last mission and think he wants freedom even though he’s unsure of what that even means. At the end of the day, he wants whatever his boyfriend Alex wants. He wants whatever the person nearest to him wants, because he’s emotionally blocked, he’s chronically unable to navigate the deep work required to figure out what he actually wants.
How did you come up with the idea for the Assassin, Bullfrog?
AS: I love the Assassin's Creed lore. It's very philosophically deep and like all great art there's fundamental kernels of truth within it. Good art is truth. In my mind, from my perspective, there is straight-up truth in the Assassin's Creed lore, and it's a serious truth. It's a truth about the fundamental nature of humans and the universe, and order versus chaos, and how we go about trying to incite change or control, and I wanted to play with the juxtaposition of these very serious truthful ideas with a character who takes these ideas so seriously that they become his entire identity, and then contrast that philosophical depth with the mesmerizing chibi cuteness of a cartoon frog. During the animatic stage Balak did most of the temp voices for all of the show’s characters himself. Balak is an exceptionally talented visual artist and he’s an equally talented voice actor, and after hearing his temp rendition of Bullfrog it was impossible to imagine anyone else doing the character justice. Balak is Bullfrog. Balak is the reason Bullfrog is French.
Where did the idea come from to remix characters from multiple Ubisoft brands to tell this new story?
AS: It did not stem from a deliberate thought process. It felt like this whole world was pouring out from within my soul in an organic, almost instinctual, manner. Ubisoft's encouragement of this unconventional, intuitive creation process was nothing short of a gift. Their belief enabled this stream of creativity to perpetually flow, allowing me to translate chaotic internal visions into tangible produceable scripts. Then having Mehdi Leffad direct these scripts was instrumental, as his unique perspective and adept storytelling capabilities added another layer of richness to the material. Obviously there was a ton of insightful input from Ubisoft Film & Television and my writing team that shaped the vision as well. But to answer your question, the essence of it just came from something deep within me. It was pouring out and it's almost like I couldn't stop it, or I couldn't help myself. In essence, this universe is the manifestation of a language my soul was eager to express, a language that had been unvoiced until now.
Why was Bobbypills the right studio to bring it to life?
AS: Bobbypills are filmmakers with a capital F. Every single person there is world-class; world-class storytellers, world-class animators, world-class artists. And they're also real filmmakers; they bring a point of view to every element. They’re not just executing what's on the page, they ask themselves “how do we level this up into a whole new stratosphere?” How do we infuse a bit of ourselves into this? This project is 100% a collaboration with their genius; led by Mehdi Leffad and Balak they've infused their genius into every frame of this series and that's why the final product is what it is. They're visionaries themselves and they beautifully crafted the tone of the final product.
What can audiences look forward to when they watch Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix this fall?
AS: In Captain Laserhawk viewers can anticipate being plunged into a new dystopian vision this fall. More than that this show's existence is, in itself, a testament to the power of creative audacity. In a meta sense this show is a lampoon of bland manufactured corporate “content." Ubisoft's culture as an artist-friendly company has afforded a band of renegade pirates the opportunity to unleash our collective creativity to create what I believe to be a masterpiece dripping with personality. So, viewers can anticipate a captivating fusion of Ubisoft's diverse brands, seamlessly interwoven into an unpredictable anime thrill ride.
Watch Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix this fall exclusively on Netflix and check out the announcement article for more details.