A different kind of shooting
If you haven't already heard the news, 2K and Lionsgate Entertainment announced a Borderlands movie last week, and the response has been a resounding "Huh?" As a series that's infamously light on story and heavy on shooting wildly in every direction, Borderlands hardly seems to warrant a film adaptation - even the most generous critics predict at least 40 minutes of the movie will be allotted to weapon respecing.
But before you write it off as a shameless cash-in (months before shooting of any kind starts), consider that a story-centric Borderlands might not be as bad as the internet has thus far decreed. In fact, the so-far-stellar Tales from the Borderlands builds itself on a foundation of Borderlands' narrative qualities, proving there's more to this universe than screaming guns and monsters shaped like genitalia. Borderlands has all the pieces of a great movie and while, yes, you can probably expect many minutes of fiery gunfights and crash-bang car chases from Hollywood's Borderlands treatment, that isn't all the screenwriters have to work with.
The universes lore is fascinating
The world of Pandora at first seems barren and basic, a thin environmental backdrop so you're not just shooting at stick figures running around in white space. But look a few inches past your rifle sight and you'll find a vibrant, living world looking back, its history on display in every blathering Psycho, weapon logo, and normal-looking young woman who goes on regular jaunts through another dimension. But don't take my word for it: a gander at the must-know facts of the first Borderlands proves the point just fine.
That leaves the directorial mind behind this adaptation with plenty of room to move in just about any direction they'd like. They could do a straight retelling of any of the series' existing games, recreating the race to open the first Pandoran vault or the mystery of the being called Angel. Or it could rocket off to parts unknown, covering a brand new story from elsewhere in the timeline. Remember how Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel literally took the cast to the moon for the purposes of corporate warfare? There are a lot of options here, is what I'm saying.
The characters are instantly memorable
While some game movies have to deal with source material that gives them nothing to work with but iron-jawed muscle men in wardrobes of brown and grey, this film will have no such trouble. There's enough wise-cracking robots, assassins who speak in emoticons, and sadistic clowns in low-cut tops in Borderlands that the movie is all but guaranteed an eclectic and memorable cast.
How likeable they are will of course depend on how they're written and cast - if we get a bunch of generic Video Game Heroes that are meant to be audience placeholders, there goes one of the film's great assets down the garbage chute. But if the team behind the film keeps to Borderlands' eccentric and loveable brand of character design (how else do you explain the widespread love for Claptrap and Tiny Tina?), we can expect an ensemble that will keep all eyes on the screen, even if it's just out of morbid fascination.
Pandora is beautiful and wildly varied
When you think of Borderlands, you probably picture an endless swath of desert with a run-down, neo-western vibe and way too many corpses. But that's really only a fraction of what Pandora has to offer - sun-scorched wastelands and shantytowns exist alongside lush underground caves, soaring mountain peaks, and idyllic crater lakes. Of course, they're still full of monsters that'll eat you alive (especially the sea monster living in that deceptively lovely basin), but peace isn't the point here. The point is the Borderlands movie will have plenty of gorgeous environments to work with, and can get as creative as it likes with whatever setting(s) it chooses to use.
The only hard and fast rule is that there has to be some kind of monster for the heroes to fight (and we're talking a wide variety here). Everything else is up to the writers' (hopefully whacked out) imaginations, and even a globetrotting adventure where the cast explores all of Pandora's ecological wonders could be in the cards. If Tales from the Borderlands can invent a giant garden in the middle of Pandora's arctic circle, then Pandora clearly has no trouble supporting creative new environments and ideas.
It has a strong sense of humor
This one's a bit tricky, since Borderlands' reliance on memes and dick jokes for its comedy isn't to everyone's taste. But any film that aims to do the series justice will at least try to be funny, and that's an anti-gravity moon leap in the right direction. In a world where too many video game adaptations are humorless and devoid of cheer, we need less Max Payne and more Mortal Kombat; a Borderlands movie has the best chance to deliver.
While it's almost inevitable that a SO I HEARD YOU LIKE GUNS gag will show up at some point, that isn't the only type of humor that works in the Borderlands world. There's also some deft use of screwball comedy and irony that has a lot less juvenile appeal. Sure, monsters called bonerfarts may be a thing, but that's a lot more tolerable when it appears alongside scenes so over the top you can't not laugh. In terms of being laughed-til-I-cried funny, the Borderlands games give the film a place to start; with luck and with a little smart direction, it could be the Kingsman of video game adaptions. In fact, you know what? Just give Matt Vaughn the job right now.
Its action scenes scream blockbuster
I said earlier that there's more to Borderlands than guns, but I never said the guns couldn't show up. Borderlands without ridiculous shootouts would be like Metal Gear Solid without plot twists, or Final Fantasy without hair gel - not the series we've come to know and love. A proper jaunt through Pandora is a blood-pumping and blood-spilling experience, full of frantic battles that overflow with colorful destruction and violent glee. It's perfect for a summer action blockbuster, and any production company worth their reels will put that to use.
Borderlands even has an extra leg up in this category over other popular shooters, because there's a ton of variety in how its battles actually look. The heroes aren't always mowing down waves of grunts before jogging to the next checkpoint and doing it all over again. Sometimes they do that, but other times they take down colossal beasts that could crush them into banditcakes, or smash down on packs of moon monsters with the help of limited gravity. When gripes about technical difficulties are no longer part of the equation, the sheer strangeness of Borderlands' action shines.
Look at that handsome SOB. Just look at him, and think about all the evil shit he does while still reveling in the fanbase's love. A dangerous mix of charisma and outright sociopathy, Handsome Jack is easily one of the most complex characters in all of Borderlands, the sort of guy who calls himself a hero then complains that the civilian he just stabbed got blood on his jacket. And even though you're aware he's a mass-murdering, child-abusing, back-stabbing bastard, he's also bizarrely charming, intelligent, and incredibly funny. You fall for his schemes even when you know better.
Basically, he's the Most Interesting Asshole Alive, and no Borderlands movie would be complete without him. Because we need him. We need Handsome Jack.
...Oh. Well, shit.