At the first Comic-Con panel in Hall H since 2019, Paramount brought the goods with the trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves from Paramount Pictures — and a whole lot more.
After a shockingly R-rated panel, with plenty of jokes coming from actor Hugh Grant who spent his first Comic-Con dropping references to S&M and “taking home extras,” fans were treated to a hard PG-13 trailer for the newest live-action Dungeons & Dragons movie.
For anyone still shaken by the last high-profile movie adaptation of the tabletop RPG from 2000, fret not. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is shaping up to be a critical hit. While there’s a predominant similarity to the broad action-comic stylings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, two scenes previewed at Comic-Con indicate there’s a stronger sense of unique identity than the official trailer implies.
Co-directed by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (the latter of whom played a Dungeons & Dragons aficionado on the TV show Freaks and Geeks), Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves tells an original story seemingly set in the Forgotten Realms (confirmed via verbal reference to Neverwinter, a city in the continent Faerûn in D&D lore). An ensemble group of thieves — a bard (Chris Pine), a barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez), a paladin (Regé-Jean Page), a spellcaster who is most likely a wizard (Justice Smith), and a tiefling druid (Sophia Lillis) — team up to retrieve an important relic from falling into the wrong hands.
The panel featured most of the movie’s cast in attendance (sans Justice Smith), as well as producer Jeremy Latcham and both Goldstein and Daley. The mere fact it was the first Hall H panel in years hung over the room, with a combination of jubilation and cautious optimism.
One of the most interesting things at the panel was the stars revealing their own personal relationships with Dungeons & Dragons. Chris Pine, who leads the cast as a Han Solo-esque bard, revealed he had never played but knew about it through his nephew, a die-hard fan who DMs his own games. Pine told a disarmingly touching story about how the game allowed his family to open up in ways he hadn’t seen before. He ended it with the sentiment that D&D should be played in high schools everywhere, as the game naturally fosters a young audience to open up.
Other cast members had played, like Michelle Rodriguez who described playing the game in friends’ basements back home in New Jersey, while Regé-Jean Page outed himself as a Chrono Trigger and Diablo fan. “I always found role-playing games super inspiring in that way,” Page said to cheers at the panel. “And I always played paladins my whole life.”
The two scenes previewed at Comic-Con gave audiences a glimpse at two of the most important things one could ask for in a Dungeons & Dragons movie: character and action. The first involved the main characters digging up graves and using Speak with the Dead, a popular spell from Dungeons & Dragons in which the dead can be temporarily resurrected and asked five questions before dying again. The movie cleverly plays with this in ways familiar to veteran D&D players. After all, do you know how easy it is to accidentally ask a question?
It’s not exactly a groundbreaking comedy, but it’s authentically funny stuff that feels reminiscent of the first Guardians of the Galaxy. What makes the scene electric is the cast’s chemistry and the unique makeup of the characters. Already, these characters feel textured and alive, and more interesting than their class archetypes imply.
The second scene, an action set-piece, had the characters compete in an arena maze with a loose displacer beast (a humongous black wildcat that can project illusions) and a mimic that targets Rodriguez’s barbarian. One moment that got some members of the Comic-Con crowd (like yours truly) almost on their feet is the fact the movie features a cameo of the characters from the classic Dungeons & Dragons animated series. There isn’t a lot of focus on them, as they’re basically living Easter eggs, but they are there and hard to miss.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is maybe the surprise heavy hitter of Comic-Con. Based on the previews, it’s instantly a buzzy release that, if executed well, could potentially give Paramount another valuable cinematic franchise to compliment Sonic and Mission: Impossible. But on its own, the movie just looks like a good time. And a good time is what all games of D&D are about.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves arrives on March 3, 2023.