Resident Evil adaptations have never been good, so why are we so hard on Netflix?

Resident Evil on Netflix has been canceled. As expected, the ambitious adaptation isn’t getting a second season, and a bunch of crazies are celebrating the fact that hundreds of people are now out of jobs. Strange flex, but good. It wasn’t good, but it deserved better.

Like Cowboy Bebop, it feels like Resident Evil was dead on arrival. Hardcore fans who worship the source material as gospel believed that anything daring to try something new or corrupt existing interpretations of events and characters had no business in the first place. Every new screenshot, trailer or announcement was a new nail in the coffin, despite the fact that so many were working behind the scenes to create something special.

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This isn’t a defense of either show, by the way. Resident Evil is a poorly written and awkwardly executed show full of clichés, while Cowboy Bebop is over the top camp and doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original, despite its magnetic main performances. But the fact that I personally didn’t enjoy it doesn’t matter, especially when so many others did.

Adaptations are meant to try something new while honoring the foregoing, or at least acknowledging its existence and taking that torch to places we’ve never ventured before. A retelling is fine too – as HBO’s The Last of Us will no doubt prove – but I’d rather have creators be bold and unexpected rather than constantly looking for predictability. Otherwise, we’ll doom ourselves to stagnation forever, and that’s exactly what’s happening here.

It’s also not that Resident Evil had to set the bar high. This is a series arguably notorious for its mediocre adaptations. For decades we’ve seen both animated and live-action movies pop up and none of them are good. They make a lot of money at the box office, which means sequels and spin-offs are inevitable, but if anyone tries to argue with me that one of the Paul WS Anderson movies is anything but fair, we’re in for a problem with our hands. Even these take named characters and events while casually referencing their origins, choosing to slaughter them with ridiculous new lore rather than capture the essence of survival horror that the games are loved for in the first place. Knowing what Netflix was building on, it’s weird how the show was so divisive.


Have streaming originals raised our expectations? Or has the presence of movie universes made our tolerance for traditional adaptations that much lower? There’s also the case of Albert Wesker and the main characters played by people of color, with toxic fans from the worst corners of the internet treating this as a clear betrayal of Resident Evil lore rather than the blatant example of racism that it’s pretty obvious. This is a universe where evil scientists routinely mutate into giant monsters while our characters battle giant insects and zombie alligators.

It has always been very, very stupid, so let’s not pretend that a particular character’s race is suddenly taking things too far. Wesker is Wesker regardless of his skin tone, and Lance Reddick has done an excellent job of bringing his sinister side to life. Admittedly, the show doesn’t take advantage of Wesker’s ethnicity and the fact that his main motivation in the series is essentially to create bermensch, as the connotations associated with such a job in the context of his identity would have been fascinating.


Still, he’ll never get a chance to advance that character, and this vision of the universe has largely stopped thanks to fans who claim they know better. Of course, the disappointing critical reception and viewing hours also play a role, but looking at the conversation surrounding Resident Evil, you can’t help but feel that we didn’t want it to work.

I was a terrible kid, so I grew up thoroughly enjoying the Resident Evil movies. I wasn’t old enough to watch them to begin with, so when I got the chance to sneak away and catch up on Milla Jovovich’s zombie adventures, I absolutely grabbed it. The cheap acting, the over-the-top action, and the nonsense stories were unbelievable at the time. Looking back, they were always terrible, but just campy and self-indulgent enough for fans to fall in love with. Well, not true fans, they were too busy cheering for games that were apparently much more serious.


Except they weren’t at all. They were creepier, but still so damn stupid in almost every way imaginable. Resident Evil may be a survival horror icon, but it’s always traded in its own ridiculousness. This is true even for entries that like to be taken more seriously, such as the recent remakes and first-person episodes, but when the time comes for massive boss fights and ridiculous plot developments, its original name returns.

Netflix’s Resident Evil was just that. It did enough to make us care about its characters, and its story had enough intrigue to keep us engaged despite its shortcomings, but when it decided to embrace the silliness or try something new, we all chose to stick with it. to dive. Out of context clips were shared online that, combined with lukewarm reviews, only served to seal the fate. If this is how we respond to all the tweaks to the things we love, I’m starting to think if we deserve our medium expanding at all.

Serious. Go back and watch all the Resident Evil movies out there and try to convince me that the Netflix show is somehow worse. It’s not.

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