Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a hard reboot for the film franchise based on Capcom’s survival horror games. The bloody back-to-basics film has no connection to the Paul W.S. Anderson-led, Milla Jovovich-starring sextet of Resident Evil movies that hit theaters between 2002 and 2016. Welcome to Raccoon City is instead an adaptation of the first two video games in the franchise from director Johannes Roberts, who tells Polygon he wanted to “make [Resident Evil] scary again.”
The new movie features familiar Resident Evil characters like Chris and Claire Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker — and some lesser-known faces like Lisa Trevor — in familiar places (e.g. the spooky Spencer Mansion, the strangely ornate Raccoon Police Department). Roberts has no plans to stop with just one Resident Evil movie — he’s keen to move on to new chapters of the games’ stories, with the events of Resident Evil 4 and Code: Veronica at the forefront of the director’s mind.
[Ed. note: This story contains potential spoilers for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.]
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City sets up the future of the film franchise with a post-credits sequence, featuring Wesker’s first face-to-face meeting with his mysterious client, Ada Wong.
Wong, played by actor Lily Gao, has a minuscule role in Welcome to Raccoon City, despite her large presence in the franchise and her prominence in Resident Evil 2, the video game. After the film concludes, and Wesker is presumed dead, we finally get a peek at Ada, the one who’s been pulling Wesker’s strings offscreen and feeding him intel for his mission to recover the Umbrella Corporation’s T-Virus for a rival company (known only in the games as The Organization).
It’s also where Wesker, played by actor Tom Hopper, finally puts on his signature sunglasses after bursting forth from a body bag. Hopper told Polygon that it was important for him that we see the human side of Wesker before he transitions to supervillain mode.
“One of the most important things to me was to get rid of the [sunglasses] to start with. I think that’s what’s so great about the final scene in the movie, to get them,” Hopper said. “And then seeing how he might have been brought back to life … I mean, the guy dies, right? I think that that’s gonna affect him in many ways! What’s really interesting is, he’s someone who is out for self-gain. Yes, he has morality in this movie, but he’s out for self-gain, and I think if you give someone like that power, they can do some dangerous things. In the end of this movie, it looks like he’s going to be given a lot of power, physically.”
Wesker’s evolution from bought-and-sold STARS captain to series nemesis would certainly make him a good fit for a cinematic adaptation of Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Welcome to Raccoon City lays the groundwork for the events of Code: Veronica by introducing the Ashford twins (the film actually uses a tiny bit of in-game footage from Code: Veronica, Roberts says). Alexia and Alfred Ashford serve as the primary antagonists of that game, which stars Chris and Claire Redfield, with Wesker returning as a more clear-cut villain — only now he’s super-powered. Given that Code: Veronica is set mere months after the destruction of Raccoon City, it’s the logical next step for the film franchise. And Robbie Amell, who plays Chris in the film, promises he’ll be around for it.
“As long as this first one is successful … we’re primed for a sequel,” Amell said. “So fingers crossed, we have a nice opening weekend. I would love to come back and continue doing it. This was kind of a dream come true for me. And I love the people involved […] Chris is not in Resident Evil 4, but we did 1 and 2 for the first one, so maybe Code: Veronica and Resident Evil 4 for the second one. I trust Johannes. I think he’s awesome. I think he’s the right guy to continue building this world.”
Roberts told Polygon he’d be interested in moving on to Code: Veronica next, because, in his words, “it’s bonkers.”
“I want it to be very much like we’re adapting the next book in the franchise,” Roberts said when asked about future plans for Resident Evil after Welcome to Raccoon City. “What I want to do is base it around the games rather than do my own thing.” But he also expressed great interest in adapting Resident Evil 4, the beloved, action-oriented-but-still-spooky sequel that righted the game franchise in 2005.
As for the film’s Leon S. Kennedy, actor Avan Jogia told Polygon that he’s on board for “whatever else they would be interested in pursuing” in terms of sequels.
“I’m a huge fan of the game series. I’ve clocked hundreds of hours on [Resident Evil 4] so I’ve, you know, played Leon a hell of a lot more before I ever played Leon [on film],” Jogian said. “Just from a personal standpoint, RE4 is one of my favorite games of all time. As a fan, I would love to see that movie. I like the Las Plagas … and El Gigante. I love the Spanish European town that they’re in … there’s just really cool characters and moments in that game.”
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens in theatrical release on Nov. 24.