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The Surprising Inspiration Behind Taika Waititi's Villain In Free Guy

"Free Guy" posits a very simple question: What is it like to be a non-playable character stuck inside of a massively multi-player online video game? The answer, of course, is terrible. NPCs have no real ownership of their lives, not even a sentient one like Guy (Ryan Reynolds). The world of the film's fake MMO "Free World" is ruled by "heroes" in sunglasses who basically blow up buildings, beat up NPCs, run into walls, and teabag. In other words, the heroes of the game are kind of villains.

While the heroes of "Free World" are not particularly heroic, the villains set in the real world of "Free Guy" are most certainly bad guys. While MolotovGirl//Millie (Jodie Comer) befriends Guy in-game, in the real world she (and the gaming community in general) has a truly vile villain to face off against in the form of Soonami Studios CEO Antwan (Taika Waititi).

Antwan is one of those scummy, bad bosses who treats all his employees like trash, but he's also a man so obsessed with making bank off of a "Free World" sequel that he hasn't considered the implication of shutting down the original game full of sentient artificial intelligence.

In short: Antwan is a bad dude. And it turns out that there's a very funny (and depressing) reason that Antwan is the type of villain he is.

Free Guy's Antwan is a little too real

There's certainly plenty to recommend about "Free Guy" — especially for gamers — but one of the things that's so nice about it is that it is not a sequel. While "Free Guy" certainly crams in a lot of nods to online gaming, it is not an adaptation of a real video game, either. It turns out, that's a bit of a foreign concept for some people at a time when most movies are either remakes, reboots, retreads, or — best-case scenario — adaptations.

It turns out, a lack of original storytelling is part of where Taika Waititi's Antwan comes from. "I just thought it was funny, because early on, an executive, who I won't name, said, 'Okay, so this movie Free Guy, what's it based on?' And we were like, 'Nothing.' And the executive is like, 'Okay, you say nothing, but like, so it's not a sequel," director Shawn Levy explained in an interview with /Film. "Is it based on a comic book, graphic novel? What?' Like, 'No, no, nothing. New ideas.' Like, 'So it's a movie based on nothing?' I'm like, 'Yeah. Based on creative originality.' And it was like such a foreign concept to this suit, that I wrote most of that as dialogue for Taika Waititi."

Simply put: If you want to remind film executives that moviegoers actually enjoy original storytelling, you could do worse than seeing "Free Guy" and loudly booing Antwan.

"Free Guy" hits theaters August 13.