Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph Shows Video Game Villains Want to Be Heroes, Too

The upcoming animated movie stars John C. Reilly as the titular 8‑bit bad guy who wants to be a good guy.
Wreck-It Ralph

Lots of interesting and exciting movie news has emerged from Disney’s recent D23 expo. Footage from upcoming blockbusters like The Avengers, The Muppets, and John Carter were rolled out for fans and press, and Pixar revealed information about their upcoming movies, including the Celtic-themed Brave, Monsters University, and two new movies (one about a world where dinosaurs never became extinct and another one set inside the human brain).

But the movie that really caught my eye is Wreck-It Ralph, an upcoming computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. The movie stars John C. Reilly as the titular video game bad guy who yearns to be a good guy, and who mingles with other video game characters at an arcade. He eventually leaves his 8‑bit game and travels through a modern Halo-esque first person shooter as well as a kid-friendly racing game on a quest to become a good guy.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Wreck-It Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) longs to be as beloved as his game’s perfect Good Guy, Fix-It Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer). Problem is, nobody loves a Bad Guy. But they do love heroes… so when a modern, first-person shooter game arrives featuring tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch), Ralph sees it as his ticket to heroism and happiness. He sneaks into the game with a simple plan — win a medal — but soon wrecks everything, and accidently unleashes a deadly enemy that threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph’s only hope? Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman), a young troublemaking “glitch” from a candy-coated cart racing game who might just be the one to teach Ralph what it means to be a Good Guy. But will he realize he is good enough to become a hero before it’s “Game Over” for the entire arcade?

IO9 posted some in-depth coverage of the Wreck-It Ralph event, and reading their account it’s difficult to not get a Toy Story vibe from certain aspects of the movie (or a ReBoot vibe, for that matter), particularly the bit about characters from different games hanging out with each other when the arcade closes at night. But if you’re going to riff on a formula, you could do much worse than Toy Story’s. The presence of John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer (30 Rock’s Kenneth Parcell), and Rich Moore (who directed some of the greatest Simpsons episodes of all time) is also encouraging: the thought alone of Reilly and McBrayer sharing scenes gives me giggles.

But above all that, Wreck-It Ralph strikes me as a movie that could perfectly tap into the zeitgeist, considering how much cultural currency video games have acquired in recent years. Video games are no longer the domain of nerds, but are rapidly becoming as potent and prevalent a medium as television and movies. What’s more, this film could have a huge nostalgic appeal for folks my age, folks for whom video game arcades are a fond memory and 8‑bit games are still beloved.

Wreck-It Ralph will arrive in theatres November 2, 2012.

Read more about Wreck-It Ralph.