Blizzcon 2011: No, Jack Black Will NOT Voice a Pandaren in Mists of Pandaria, Metzen Says

Drawing the parallel was inevitable. Mists of Pandaria, the next World of Warcraft expansion, includes anthromorphic pandas who do kung fu with an Eastern influence on their culture and architecture. Sounds awfully like a Dreamworks movie and its sequel starring the once-great but lately lacking Jack Black.

During the World of Warcraft Story and Lore panel at Blizzcon 2011, VP of Creative Development Chris Metzen and Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak were asked by a fan if Jack Black might find his way to voicing a pandaren leader in the expansion pack. Mr. Metzen was not amused.

“No. No,” Metzen responded. “Look, I love Jack Black. I love those movies — which shall not be named. We’ve been slugging panda ideas for 12 years, so — I think ours are better.”

He went on to elaborate on the fact that the pandaren aren’t a new thought, but something that Blizzard has been kicking around for quite a while after the art was originally created as a passion project by Lead Artist Sam Didier.

The pandaren, Metzen seemed to emphasize, aren’t an idea taken from some other piece of pop culture.

“Obviously there’s a lot of visual continuity there with the panda movies. We’ve been building this kit for a long time …” said Metzen. “Know this: we were gonna have pandaren be the Alliance race in Burning Crusade. And we bulit that kit out years ago, but we got into a situation where we kinda pulled back and went, ‘Ah, you know, maybe it’s not right,’ and maybe there’s a story there. But we pulled back on the idea and crafted the Draenei, so I only roll that out to show you that we’ve been very serious about this idea for a very long time.

“And actually, in a way, it’s actually very cool that we didn’t necessarily execute against that at that time because now we can build a whole land. Instead of just a starting experience, we can go to town on this idea and really execute it at a very high level.”

Kosak added some thoughts on the question as well.

“We can do so much more with this race,” Kosak said. “They’re so much compelling now than they ever could have been back then. It’s really, really cool that we get to do this now and we get to do it big.”

Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.

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