Between the enormous popularity of HBO Max’s The Last of Us and the Super Mario Bros. Movie blockbuster success, it’s no surprise streamers, networks, and studios are all eager to score a piece of the video game adaptation pie. But it seems Peacock is literally leading the pack, as it races ahead of the competition to get Twisted Metal in front of viewers this summer.
Based on the classic PlayStation series of the same name, Twisted Metal looks to be the latest entry to convince fans and critics alike that the infamous video game adaptation curse has been vanquished. So what can we expect from this latest project spawned from pixels and polygons? From story details and casting info to when you can buckle-up and watch the premiere, here’s everything we know about Twisted Metal.
Twisted Metal is based on a long-running PlayStation franchise of action-packed, over-the-top vehicular combat games. The series debuted in 1995 on Sony’s original PlayStation console and has since continued with multiple sequels and spin-offs.
Officially described as a “live-action comedy,” the 10-episode series appears to be more inspired by the games rather than a direct adaptation of one of their stories. Based on the teaser trailer, which sees star Anthony Mackie, as charismatic hero John Doe, reloading his double-barreled death-dealer from behind the wheel of his muscle car — which is equipped with a pair of mounted machine guns that’d make James Bond jealous — it seems the show also isn’t shying away from the source material’s brand of mature, violent, high-octane shenanigans.
Of course, given that John pulls the ammo from a glove compartment absolutely overflowing with shotgun shells, before enthusiastically revving his engine and jamming out to Len’s “Steal My Sunshine,” it’s a good bet the series is leaning just as heavily into the games’ dark humor. Following a wide shot of John’s ride tearing through a post-apocalyptic landscape, we also get a tease of Sweet Tooth, the series’ psychotic, ice cream truck–driving killer clown.
A subsequent clip released in June gave us a better look at Sweet Tooth as he battles John in a casino.
While the videos effectively piqued our interest — and ensured “Steal My Sunshine” and “The Thong Song” will immediately be added to our Spotify playlists — the series’ official synopsis goes a bit deeper, offering a Mad Max-flavored description of John Doe and his dangerous quest: “A motor-mouthed outsider is offered a chance at a better life, but only if he can successfully deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With the help of a badass axe-wielding car thief, he’ll face savage marauders driving vehicles of destruction and other dangers of the open road, including a deranged clown who drives an all-too-familiar ice cream truck. “
Clearly recognizing the action-heavy games were a bit light on story, showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith (Cobra Kai) in a statement addressed how the show will complement its expected elements with a deeper narrative and characterizations: “Yes, Twisted Metal has the cars, it has the weapons, and it has the battles. But what it also has are people. I know you will fall in love with these characters and what drives them, no pun intended (OK, maybe a little intended). This is a bonkers show about insiders and outsiders, and how our own special apocalypse has divided and isolated us more than ever. But there’s hope. You can find your people and your community. You may just have to get past a terrifying clown driving a well-armed ice cream truck to find them.”
Twisted Metal stars Mackie, Stephanie Beatriz, Thomas Haden Church, Will Arnett, and Joe Seanoa. Mackie plays protagonist John Doe and, based on his brief appearance in the teaser, he’s having an absolute blast in the role. While more than one “John Doe” appears in the game series, it’s unclear if Mackie’s take shares anything with these mysterious characters.
More familiar to fans is Sweet Tooth, the series’ iconic baddie and sort-of poster boy. Interestingly, the show will leverage a pair of performers to play the larger-than-life role, with Joe Seanoa (aka wrestler Samoa Joe) filling the character’s clown shoes and Will Arnett voicing him.
While we mostly just get a tease of these characters in the trailer, Smith offered a bit more insight into how they’ll be fleshed out in the series: “You will cheer for our charismatic hero John Doe, played by Anthony Mackie, as he drives across the Divided States of America in search of a place to belong. And you’ll discover a surprising soulfulness to our deranged, murderous clown Sweet Tooth, voiced by Will Arnett and performed by Joe Seanoa aka wrestler Samoa Joe.”
Smith’s description also shed some light on Beatriz and Haden Church’s characters, who are absent from the trailer.
“You’ll laugh as an enigmatic woman named Quiet, played by Stephanie Beatriz, throws John’s world for a loop after a chance encounter, forcing the two together and changing both their lives for the better. You will root for our heroes to take down psychotic highway patrolman Agent Stone, played by Thomas Haden Church, who sees the world in black and blue.”
The supporting cast is more of a mystery. Guest stars will include Neve Campbell, Richard Cabral, Mike Mitchell, Tahj Vaughans, and Lou Beatty Jr., but their roles still remain a secret.
Coming from Sony Pictures Television and PlayStation Productions, Twisted Metal sports a stacked lineup of talent behind the scenes as well. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick — the writing team behind the Deadpool and Zombieland film franchises — are executive producing alongside stars Mackie and Arnett. In addition to showrunner, Smith is also an executive producer and writer on the series. Kitao Sakurai will take the directing reins for multiple episodes.
Fans of vehicular combat, killer clowns, and Anthony Mackie’s winning smile won’t have to wait long to get behind the wheel. Twisted Metal’s run of 10 30-minute episodes all premiere simultaneously on July 27.