I'm a Kubrick fan. I think "2001: A Space Odyssey" stands as one of cinema's greatest achievements and is largely unchallenged for best sci-fi film of all time. I'm also a Warhammer 40K enthusiast. I paint the figures. I own a copy of "Space Hulk." Heck, I've managed to blog a couple of times about the science of Tyranid Genestealers.
But Kubrick and Warhammer 40K together? For all its epic grim-dark splendor, the world of 4oK is very much a geektastic amalgam of influences. Surely I'd be ridiculous to imagine Stanley Kubrick entering into the gothic space opera universe of the 41st millennium.
Not so, according to British author Ian Watson. As he relates on his blog, Watson's growing reputation as an imaginative sci-fi writer landed him a dream gig in the early 1990s: working with Stanley Kubrick on an adaptation of the short story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long." As you might remember, this unrealized project eventually became Steven Spielberg's 2001 film "A.I. Artificial Intelligence."
At the time, Watson had just finished writing the novel "Inquisitor" (now known as "Draco"), one of the earliest Warhammer 40k novels. Ever hungry for ideas and influences, Kubrick request a pre-publication copy of the novel. Watson even arranged for Games Workshop to send the director some game samples and some illustrations by Ian Miller.
According to Watson, Kubrick expressed interest:
Now, Watson never suggests that Kubrick seriously considered a Warhammer 40K film. The legendary director merely explored all possibilities and was ever eager to explore new material.
But what if the stars had aligned on this project? I've not read "Draco," but I understand it to be a bit more complex than the average 40k novel, as well as appallingly bleak.* What might have Kubrick made of an insane sci-fi universe where even the "good guys" embody the worst aspects of humanity to ensure its survival?
* I have, however, read Dan Abnett's Einsenhorn trilogy, which could make for a fun bit of cinema in the right hands.