For the last few days, the new Resident Evil motion picture, Welcome to Raccoon City, has been receiving a set of new teasers showcasing this film’s versions of our gaming favorites. Unlike the previous six films, the stars of the games are the front and center focus, with (as far as they’ve announced, anyway) no original characters taking away from their spotlight. That said, they’ve also changed these characters a bit in order to better fit them with this film’s take on events (as the film is combining Resident Evil 1 and 2 into one story). Let’s take a look at each and break down both the characters themselves as well as the footage shown (as I’ve been doing with each of the other trailers).
The first of these Character Vignette trailers released was for our firey red heroine, Claire Redfield. Unlike her counterpart in the Paul W.S. Anderson films (who was just a lady named Claire who had never even been to Raccoon City), this Claire is a Raccoon City native, characterized as a runaway who’s been doing digging to try and uncover a conspiracy surrounding Umbrella Corporation, the shady pharmaceutical company that has Raccoon bought and paid for. After a few years away, she’s come back to share what she’s discovered with her brother, Chris.
This trailer has the least new footage out of all of them, mostly made up of a few second snippets here and there. Sadly there isn’t much to talk about — but considering how front and center she is on posters (and the fact that these vignettes started with her) would seem to suggest that she’s the story focus character, so her scenes may be the most spoiler-y of them all, hence the lack of new footage.
Chris, hero of the grand majority of the games (appearing in RE1, 5, 6, 7, 8, along with Code: Veronica, Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles, and Revelations 1), makes his second on-screen appearance, this time actually as a member of Raccoon City’s S.T.A.R.S. rather than Just Some Guy™. Here, Chris is described as “a small-town hero”, although interestingly this is followed up with the quote “and now he’s part of the Raccoon City Police force”, which may indicate that he has some notoriety even beforehand.
We get a couple of shots of Chris aboard S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team’s helicopter, and then a first look at their office. This location oozes 90s nostalgia with big chunky beige cream-colored monitors and even what looks like a fancy Rolodex on Richard’s desk. In the games, we’ve never gotten to see S.T.A.R.S. outside of the individual horror stories of the games, which is something a lot of fans have been begging to see, and this looks to be our very first chance. Interestingly, in the upper left corner, we can see Resident Evil 2‘s “Welcome Leon” sign (and, thanks to set photos, we know it also has the missing second L gag from REmake 2 – and we can also see Wesker’s ’96 aviators). Leon most certainly isn’t S.T.A.R.S. in this film, so it’s possible they simply share a larger bullpen-style workspace with other R.P.D. officers, rather than having their own dedicated space. We see larger shots of this room in Jill’s trailer, which seems to indicate that it’s at least bigger than this one shot.
Next, we get a new shot of our ‘ol buddy the Headturner, now standing and ready to get blown away, followed by returning footage from previous trailers. Following all that we have a new shot of Chris in what’s most likely the film’s finale, shouting at Sherry to get behind him while he takes aim at G. This is significant as it reveals that the two stories will for sure collide by the end, and morph into one conjoined RE2 ending.
Leon S. Kennedy
Our resident rookie, Leon S. Kennedy, was next on the list of vignette trailers. Again, this ain’t the Anderson version (who was just some guy that died off-camera), Leon is a fresh face in the R.P.D. who’s about to spend the worst first night on the job imaginable. Director Johannes Roberts stresses that he wanted to take Leon back to being “a nerdy, reluctant hero”. I’m not sure I ever quite got that vibe from him, although scaling him back from being extremely confident like he’s typically depicted in the games to someone more naive and, well, rookie-ish, is a good call in my opinion.
The first really noteworthy new shot is Leon and Jill aboard the train from the ending of Resident Evil 2, getting it prepped for the last escape. An interesting note is that the train actually bears a strong resemblance to its look from Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and the serial number, ALC5000, is a reference to the train model in the original 1998 RE2, GALAXIE-5000.
We also see the beginnings of confident, quippy RE4 Leon, as he blows Birkin to hell with REmake 2‘s ATM-4 rocket launcher. Considering movie timing, I’m willing to bet this crack is immediately followed up with G5 Birkin throwing him across the cabin.
Next up we have Wesker’s trailer, which focuses on humanizing the monster we all love. Johannes Roberts and actor Tom Hopper explain that they didn’t want him to be a stereotypical villain (like the cartoonishly thin Wesker from the previous films), and try to make him likable before he turns on everyone. In this trailer, we see both see him get a sucker gun to the forehead (which is adorable), lead his squad into the mansion, and slowly start to turn over the course of the footage shown.
We’ve already seen a shot of the mansion’s exterior, but I wanted to touch on this wider shot of it, as we can now clearly see parts of the mansion’s east wing terrace, which is where Forest’s corpse is found in the games.
Next, we get a longer look at the mansion’s new Bar/Library hybrid, which has combined elements of the room where we find the piano as well as the room where we fight Yawn in REmake. Wesker sits himself down at the piano and uses a Palm Pilot to bang out our beloved Moonlight Sonata, thus opening a secret passageway. For our younger readers, Palm Pilots were sort of a very, very early version of a smartphone (called a P.D.A. or Personal Digital Assistant), essentially a small personal computer that could store information, run very basic programs and games, and some could actually make calls too. Wesker seems to have a piano program on his, telling him what keys to press in order to play out the music notes, which may be an indication that Wesker went in with the goal of opening the secret passage, rather than figuring it out by accident as Rebecca/Jill do in the games.
I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but it feels vaguely reminiscent of a plot thread from the original 90s Resident Evil novelizations, written by S.D. Perry. In those, an original character named Trent gives Jill a P.D.A. in order to help her navigate the mansion and give her clues as to what to do about puzzles. The movies aren’t strangers to her books as the fifth film, Retribution, rips off her novel Underworld pretty thoroughly, but if this is a deliberate callback, that’s pretty cool.
Following this, we see that same library room in ruins, thanks to Brad crashing his helicopter through the window. It seems like the timeline of events might be: Wesker figures out the puzzle, Brad crashes through the window, Wesker and Jill return to the wreckage to go explore the new area opened up by the piano. We then see Wesker slowly draw a gun as Jill looks positively shocked and a little mortified, which might indicate her trust in Wesker is failing after he opened the secret door (which also matches up with a shot of her holding the P.D.A. while looking on in horror from the original trailer), before Wesker (later in the trailer) is shown to have aced a zombie that was behind her (which might be an R.P.D. officer, they have a patch on their sleeve).
Now during all of this, there’s also a shot of Wesker holding someone at gunpoint in a lab environment, saying “I’m not really offering you a choice” (while taking aim with his custom Samurai Edge, complete with flashlight mod from RE5). The question is: who is he talking to? Well, based on the coloration of the room (light teal walls with wooden fixtures), I’m going to say that Wesker’s goal in the mansion is no longer to lure S.T.A.R.S. into a trap in order to test bioweapons — but to find a secret passage to William Birkin’s lab and take the G-virus by force. In the European version of the first trailer, we see Birkin arguing with someone in a lab setting, recreating his death scene from REmake 2, even uttering the same line (“This is my life’s work, I’m not giving it to anybody”).
In the games, Wesker used Umbrella’s orders to scuttle the mansion and secure combat data (pitting S.T.A.R.S. against the BOWs run amock) as a cover in order to steal said data and BOW embryos in order to sell to a rival company. Changing that to stealing the G-Virus (presumably to the same end) is a nice way of speeding things up and combining the two stories. Presumably, this would mean that the outbreak in Raccoon is now the result of a pure accident (as it was in the 1996 Resident Evil before being retconned into sabotage by RE0), and Birkin was trying to escape before being cornered by Wesker.
Last but certainly not least, we have a trailer centered around our Amazon, Jill Valentine. Jill is very arguably the most different from her game counterpart, depicted here as “a little bit crazy”, and shown with a very Vasquez meets Rain style of aggressively cocksure and playfully mean, although all with an emphasis on “badass”.
One of the first surprises here is that the overturned car we saw in the original trailer (which I had speculated might be a callback to Resident Evil 0) turns out to maybe be an R.P.D. van taken by Bravo Team. Jill and Chris are seen peering in, with Jill asking “Where are they?”. We still don’t really know much about Bravo Team in this film, with only Enrico and Kevin being confirmed by casting (Richard has been upgraded to Alpha Team in this film). It’s a bit odd that Bravo seems to have taken a car while Alpha took a helicopter, but maybe the idea is that it’s an emergency and they may have to air-lift people? Guess we’ll find out.
Next, we get our first look at an infected crow, perched on top of the car. Jill turns it to mist with her machine gun, causing Wesker (who was like three inches from it) to chide her and Chris to make her lower her gun. Like they said, “crazy”. Speaking of which…
Jill takes aim at what appears to be a hung-over, sleeping Leon in Emmy’s diner, presumably as a joke, before Wesker and Richard force her gun down. Kinda uncomfortable to be honest. If this is Leon, it’s a neat touch considering Leon’s original backstory for not arriving on time in Resident Evil 2 was that he was hungover after a bad break-up. This was changed in REmake 2 to being called beforehand and told to stay away.
We get another look at the S.T.A.R.S. office, with Jill asking “what would the worst way to die be” (if I know my zombie movies, I’d say it’s for a bunch of old men to get around you and start biting and eating you alive) and being called a freak by Chris. So that’s a bit different lol. The real fun comes with a beloved line-drop, as Jill swipes Wesker’s hoagie in that same scene in Emmy’s, saying “You snooze, you lose. It’s a Jill Sandwich now”. Ey, they said the thing.
Next, we get a reverse shot of the scene from Leon’s trailer before, showing the interior of the train’s main cabin. We hear Jill say “Go get the others, I’ll find a way out!”. I’ve seen fans online speculate this is a setup for a sequel, and that she’ll be left behind in Raccoon to face off against Nemesis, but I think it’s far more likely that this line is pulled from a different scene entirely and she’s probably the one that finds the train to begin with.
Next, we get our first look at the Spencer Mansion’s dining hall, as Jill mows down an approaching zed. We can even see that same clock puzzle painting behind her and Chris, right where it’s supposed to be.
That’s all for now, but with under a month until release, odds are good we’ll be seeing more marketing to pick over before then. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City releases November 24th exclusively in theaters.