Dan Abnett is best known for his work in the Warhammer 40k universe, where he’s sold over a million novels, making him one of the best-selling Science Fiction authors that a lot of fans have never even heard of. From all accounts, his novels have earned this success by being some of the best Hard Military-Science Fiction on the market, regardless of being in a shared world.

Ultramarines Logo

It makes sense, then that Abnett has now been officially announced as having written the screenplay for the upcoming Warhammer 40k movie, Ultramarines:

“I first heard about the movie… two and a half, three years ago,” said Abnett in a video interview on the film’s website. “I was approached for my track record of writing for 40k in comics and novels, they felt that I had the experience in handling the source material, the [intellectual property] IP.” This understanding of the universe has apparently been paramount throughout the process, as Abnett elaborated. “One thing I’ve really noticed about working with the company who are producing this film is that they are regarding the source material with great respect. I think that was probably my biggest concern when I first heard about the project because there had been rumours on and off for years about there being movies and things like that based on 40k. The fear is that someone will come along and seize on the most graphic or iconic parts of the universe… and very rapidly I was assured that this wasn’t going to be like that, that this was going to be treated with the same degree of attention and care, and attention to details I suppose, that we would do on a novel or a game supplement or anything else like that.”


Given Abnett’s success writing both novels and comic books, it seems fair to think that this movie has a chance of actually being decent. He certainly has a rock solid grip on the source material. Though, with the way Hollywood works, one shouldn’t be surprised if Abnett’s script gets re-worked and re-written by different hands a dozen times before finalized.

  • Adam Whitehead November 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Looking at the website for the film production company, this isn’t a Hollywood production, but a 70-minute, CGI, probably straight-to-DVD thing. There’s no way Hollywood would be able to do 40K even remotely any justice. Far too violent, it would need to be an R or 18 certificate, which just doesn’t happen these days, and you can’t say with any certainty who the good guys and bad guys are. Moral ambivalence makes for bad box office (or at least that’s the perceived wisdom).

    I suspect what we will eventually see are movies based on WARCRAFT and STARCRAFT, which themselves are (somewhat) more straightforward and audience-friendly versions of WARHAMMER and WARHAMMER 40K. Not to say they aren’t solid fantasy and SF universes themselves with some real dark and intersting moments, but both settings have definite ‘good’ and ‘bad’ factions and characters the audience can really root far. WARHAMMER and 40K? Not so much. A true-to-the-source material 40K movie would feature as its main characters a bunch of religious fundamentalist facists, and there’s no real way around that without gutting the heart of what the setting it.

  • James November 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Never read any of the books or played the games, but I will likely end up watching the movie anyway. Still, there is a part of me that really, really hopes that the name is temporary… it is in the ‘so terrible it makes you laugh’ category for me.

  • Adam Whitehead November 20, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Whilst they might change the name of the movie, they won’t change the faction involved. The Ultramarines are probably the most iconic of the Space Marine chapters and the most popular, so it makes sense to have them in the film.

  • James November 20, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Eh, I never said anything about changing what will be in the film. Ultramarines(tm) as a title settles rather firmly into the realm of laughable and is the only thing I mentioned changing.

  • Chris M November 23, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Could be interesting, but as Adam said, not sure it would be made for the big screen.

    Speaking of adaptations, there’s a World of Warcraft film with production company Legendary Pictures being proposed. Apparently it would be set for the Alliance (good guys) one year before the game’s storyline. Even then, they would need to be careful to show that the new Horde is a force for good as well. It wouldn’t surprise me though if the first scene of an orc and people criticise it for being a LOTR ripoff. =/