Warcraft Movie Lore Primer

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Posted on November 22, 2013, CJ Miozzi Warcraft Movie Lore Primer

BlizzCon 2013 confirmed that the Warcraft movie is alive and well, set to start filming in early 2014 and hit theaters in December 2015.

But that’s Blizzard Standard Time, so we likely have a few more years to go. We also now know that the movie will revolve around the first contact between orcs and humans and feature Lothar and Durotan as protagonists.

For someone who was captivated by the original Warcraft lore as a child, I couldn’t be happier with this decision to tell an origin story, rather than a tale set in the newfangled World of Warcraft universe. But I understand that not every WoW player is up to speed on their history, so let’s break down what we can expect from the Warcraft movie.

In selecting Durotan and Lothar as protagonists, Blizzard has decided to elicit audience sympathy for both sides of the conflict. The first contact between orcs and humans is better known as the First War, in which the orcish horde invaded the human world. Clearly the aggressors, the orcs were the villains of the original Warcraft games. However, Blizzard retcons attributed their bloodthirst to a form of demonic influence, with Durotan being a strong opponent to the corrupt orcish leadership. For this analysis, we’ll assume that the the movie will cover the events leading up to and including the First War.

The Orcish Perspective

The movie may very well open with a scene from Durotan’s childhood — a scene in which he and his friend, Orgrim Doomhammer, are assaulted by an ogre while racing each other through a forest. The two are saved thanks to the intervention of a draenei hunting party, establishing Durotan’s sympathy for the race of people that the orcish horde would one day wipe off the face of the planet.

Blizzard will likely swap between Durotan’s and Lothar’s points of view, establishing both protagonists early in the film, but we’ll keep our focus on Durotan for the time being. As mentioned at BlizzCon 2013, the movie includes “opportunities for some very strong female lead roles,” which suggests that Durotan’s mate, Draka, will play a big part in the narrative. We may even have to endure their sappy love story, in which she rebuffs Durotan’s initial advances, but eventually comes around after the two fight off a wolf together.

After his father dies, Durotan becomes chieftain of the Frostwolf clan — a ceremony the film will likely depict. This event should wrap up the establishment of Durotan’s backstory and bring us into the main plot — and the introduction of our first villain, the Elder Shaman Ner’zhul, revered spiritual leader of the orcs.

Ner’zhul, under demonic influence, assembles the chieftains and steers the orcs to war with the draenei, claiming the spirits willed it. In reality, he was duped by demons into believing this to be true. We’ll likely witness Durotan’s internal struggle with this war and have a scene in which he defies orders in a show of sympathy for the draenei, citing “honor” as an excuse. As the war progresses, orc shamans begin to lose their connection with the spirits, and Durotan interprets this to mean that this genocide is not just, as Ner’zhul claimed.

Enter Gul’dan, apprentice to Ner’zhul and our second villain. When shamanism begins to fail, Gul’dan leads the orcs down the path of demonic warlock magic — a path that Durotan silently opposes, but grudgingly goes along with. A master manipulator, Gul’dan unites the orc clans into the First Horde, and while Durotan runs for the position of Warchief, Gul’dan’s puppet, Blackhand, wins the popular vote and thus the title. Under Blackhand’s leadership, the draenei are eradicated, and we can expect a dramatic scene in the movie in which Durotan is forced to kill the very draenei hunter that saved him when he was younger.

By this point, Ner’zhul is just a figurehead, with Gul’dan holding the true power. While Gul’dan embraced the demonic pact, Ner’zhul, who realized he had been tricked by the demons, did not. When Gul’dan assembles the Horde to drink of the Blood of Mannoroth, which would bind the orcs to the will of the demons, Ner’zhul sends a warning to Durotan. The Frostwolf chieftain, along with Orgrim Doomhammer, refuse to drink of the blood.

After the genocide of the draenei and with no enemy left to conquer, the orcs turn upon themselves, until Gul’dan opens a portal to a new world, fresh for conquest. When Durotan voices his opposition of Gul’dan’s leadership, he and his clan are exiled. Throughout the First War, not much happens in Dorutan’s story, so we’ll return to him after taking a brief look at…

The Human Perspective

How can Blizzard best introduce Anduin Lothar, a man who would go on to become regarded as one of the greatest warriors of all time? Perhaps by depicting the childhood incident in which he demonstrates martial prowess against trolls while on an adventure with his friends Prince Llane Wrynn and Medivh, thereby establishing three key characters in one scene. Wrynn will go on to become King during the First War, while the sorcerer Medivh will be the catalyst for this war.

On Medivh’s 14th birthday, he succumbs to a demon-induced coma, and for more than 20 years, is attended to by Lothar. In this time, Lothar joins the military, is knighted, and becomes the leader of the King’s army. Medivh awakens from his coma under demonic influence as one of the greatest villains in this story, using his vast power to contact Gul’dan and open the portal that would allow the Horde to invade.


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