INTERVIEW: Blizzard's Creative Director James Waugh Weighs In On NEW Graphic Novel and Movie!

The prequel graphic novel to Blizzard's upcoming movie Warcraft is available now. Gamefragger had the opportunity to interview James Waugh, Director, Story & Creative Development at Blizzard. Hit the jump and read on!

Warcraft will be gracing theatre's across the world on  June 10th, until then we got to ask creative director James Waugh a few questions about the movie and its tie in graphic novel; Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood, which is available for purchase today! 

Description: Discover how three of Azeroth’s greatest champions forged their first alliance, in the official graphic prequel to the Warcaft movie from Legendary, Universal Pictures and Blizzard Entertainment.
In a fantasy action epic set decades before the film, the young and headstrong Llane, Lothar, and Medivh embark on a mission of vengeance that will forge them into heroes… the kind of heroes Azeroth will need in its darkest hour.

What will fans looking forward to the movie get out of the graphic novel that they won’t get in the movie?

So the graphic novel really focuses on the relationship between lothar, Llane and Medivh. Those are the core human characters in the film and in the film you often here that they were the best of friends and did heroic deeds together and saved the kingdom as a group once. Unfortunately you don’t get a lot of that context in the film, but you do see some of the vestiges of it. You see the statue of Medivh in the film and you hear some back and forth as they talk about it. When we were really developing this with Chuck Levitt, his initial draft had a great flashback to start the film that was really a Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark opening and it contextualized it a little bit with a yound Lothar, Llane and Medivh going on an expedition to hunt trolls. Ultimately it didn’t work within the film context, but it ended up focusing more on the Orcs as Duncan came on, but it was a really nice piece of storytelling and helped us look at Llane Lothar and Medivh’s relationship in some way.

So when you start talking about ways that comics can set up the movie, we thought that would be the story. Let’s tell the story of who these guys were and in the movie we see these guys 15 years later and the toll that their lives have taken on their relationship. We saw a great opportunity to explore what that relationship was with the comic when it was strong and healthy. To tell when Stormwind was sacked and they saved the day. It also allowed us to touch on Medivhs first encounter with magic that ends up playing a major role in the film story.

What kind of character development can readers expect for Lothar, Llane and Medivh?

I think it’s pretty vast. I think the Llane you see in the film is a very stoic, thoughtful leader and the type of king that you would want. He’s stable and and really considers his decisions. The Llane in the comic is not necessarily that person that you see in the film. He is a young prince that is out to make his bones and to show the world what he can do. When the events with the trolls are kicked off he is left with this burden to what he has done that lead to the city being sacked. The comic tracks that arc to a prince that is a little bit more naïve and a little bit more cocksure . . . to a king that becomes a little bit more thoughtful. From Medivh’s perspective, this is when he first becomes a guardian and the weight of the world is on his shoulders and he really hasn’t exercised his full powers yet or played with all the different magic’s out there that can potentially open some dark doors. The comic really exposes him to that potentiality. We deal with a character that suddenly realizes the great burden that comes with being a guardian. What is interesting with Lothar’s character is that in the film we know that he was once married, but we never see his wife, but we do know that he adores his son Callan more than anything. In the comic you get to see who his wife was and what happened to her, how Callan came to be and how Lothar prides being a father. That isn’t something that comes out in the film What were some of your processes and inspirations for creating the novel?

I would say from a processes perspective was to tell other parts of movie continuity in other spaces. When we had the opportunity to dive in and create the comic, it was “what story can we tell.” We also started asking ourselves “who are these characters” and we had conversations with filmmakers, Metzen and Duncan and we ultimately got to a place where the characters would be early on. So there was a lot of character exploration around that and talking about what lead them to be the characters they are in the film. Obviously Paul Carnell came in and there was a lot of dramatic craft put in around those ideas. So that was the process. As far as inspirations go, we are all comic book geeks at Blizzard on some level and we all grew up on those idioms. It is okay and we are very proud of it. So it’s hard to say what we reference for inspirations for this. It was something that generally excites us and we like playing in that comic sandbox.
So it was a natural thing for us.

Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?

Ultimately I think it’s Medivh, the journey Medivh goes on in the book is a noble one, but is one that has a little bit of hubris and that is usually the fatal flaw of a good hero. He is a guardian that is possibly the most powerful being in Azeroth. He also has a great burden in the fact that he needs to protect the world. That is something that is heavy for one person. That is one of the great flaws that is uncovered by the movie. There is a lot of weight for one person and maybe we all need to be our own guardians. So what you see with Medivh character is a character that will do anything to fulfill his duty, even if that means doing something that is forbidden. There is an element of hubris that he can control this power and something that is relatable on some level. He does it from a noble place and there is nothing malicious about it. There is a statue erected for him because of something that he used that he probably shouldn’t have.

Was there anything that didn’t make it into the book that readers can know about?

No, actually… I wish there was some thrilling story about it, but Chris Metzen knew exactly what he wanted to do with the story and Paul worked it out to shape it. We knew the story we wanted to tell and there really wasn’t anything that was left out of it. If anything Paul Carnell brought a very interesting voice to it. We had the outline, but Paul really brought it all together.

What kind of azeroth can we expect in the graphic novel and where does it take place?

It mainly takes place in Stormwind and Brightwood. It starts in stranglethorn, so essentially it’s the Azeroth of the game. Keep in mind it takes place during the events of Warcraft 1 (the video game).. so certain things end up changing after the events of Warcraft. You’ll feel a little of that in the movie. Right when it turns into duskwood. It primarily takes place in the Eastern Kingdoms.

Is there a certain part of the graphic novel you liked most?

It goes back to something that we touched on earlier in Medivh’s choice to use Fel magic. To me it was a very human choice and a very honest choice. It was for the love of his friends and brothers and duty. He is doing it all for the right reasons, but it will ultimately take its toll on him in the movie.

Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood
Story by: Chris Metzen
Written by: Paul Cornell
Art by: Mat Broome, Michael O’Hare, Eddie Nunez, Roy Allan Martinez, Ale Garza, Mike Bowden
Cover Artist: Kevin Tong
112 page hardcover graphic novel
Release date: June 7th
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