Even the most dedicated WoW players may not remember every character and detail from the original two Warcraft games, which Duncan Jones and his team are using as the inspiration for the first Warcraft film. Whether you're an old pro or a newly interested in Warcraft after this afternoon's casting announcements at Blizzcon 2014, here's a crash course in Azeroth history...
[Spoiler Alert: We'll avoid mentioning how some of these characters meet their maker, but the descriptions could reveal some plot details about Warcraft]
Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel)
Lothar is the human protagonist in both Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II. The human knight grew up alongside Prince Llane and other royalty in Azeroth before joining the Stormwind military to protect the kingdom. He rose through the ranks quickly and earned a spot in the King's Honor Guard before long.
The human soldier proved to be both a wise advisor and a brave warrior during the First War and the Second War. Lothar's driving motivation is to reclaim his homeland from the invading Orcs and he uses his charismatic nature and wits on the battlefield to lead his followers into battle with him. He often rode into battle wielding the Great Royal Sword of Stormwind (though in WoW it is suggested his weapon of choice was Ashkandi), so hopefully we'll see that blade come to life in Warcraft.
When Fimmel was first mentioned to be a leading man in Warcraft, Andiun seemed like the safe bet. The Vikings star has the right build and attitude for the role and he seems like a great choice to lead the armies of Stormwind. Andiun is a charismatic leader whose main strength is leading men into battle, so Fimmel will have to really bring the charm to sell the character.
King Llane Wrynn (Dominic Cooper)
Llane Wrynn transitioned from Prince of Azeroth to King at the young age of 20, in the midst of the First War. The young ruler acted as a beacon of hope for the people of Stormwind and as a great war leader during his time.
Although King Llane is usually seen in his later days, Dominic Cooper will likely portray the character as he transition from prince to king. Most of our readers probably recognize Cooper from his recurring role of Howard Stark in the Marvel Universe (Captain America, Agent Carter).
Medivh (Ben Foster)
Magus Medivh, the last Guardian of Tirisfal, is a human mage/wizard/warlock who was born with the power to battle the Burning Legion. Unfortunately, the mega-powerful human was corrupted by a demonlord before his birth and was destined to act as a pawn in Sargeras' plot to conquer Azeroth. Medivh was friends with Anduin and Prince Wrynn as a child, years before the dark spirits would awake within him and begin corrupting his thoughts.
Ben Foster seems like a perfect fit for a young Medivh, right at the point when he first loses control to the spirits. Foster has a likable enough demeanor to be a believable ally to Andiun early on, but he has plenty of experience playing corrupt characters (30 Days of Night, Alpha Dog) to help him sell the whole possesed by evil demons act.
Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer)
After studying under Medivh, Khadgar became one of the most powerful wizards that Azeroth had ever known. The magic-wielder grew up to be a savior of the Alliance faction and one of its greatest heroes. Not only is Khadgar a practiced wizard, but he is also one of the smarter members of the Alliance group. We'll avoid spoilers, but you can expect Khadgar to be more than the apprentice to Medivh that he may appear to be.
If Warcraft takes place during the First War, we expect to see Khadgar fairly early in his training, before he rises to be one of the Alliance's super weapons. Ben Schnetzer is a fresh face in Hollywood, but you may have seen him in last year's The Book Thief.
Lady Taria (Ruth Negga)
Jones insisted from early on that he wanted there to be some strong female characters in his version of Azeroth and it looks like Lady Taria will be one of those leading ladies. Although there isn't a lot of lore about Taria to mine out of the original Warcraft games, we know that the character is the King's wife and most trusted counsel.
If Jones is looking to take Negga out of the throne room and into a battle or two, he is working with the right kind of actress. Negga is a veteran of Agents of SHIELD and World War Z, so she knows her way around a choreographed action scene. Negga also already has a solid reputation in the gaming world, after voicing Shanalotte in Dark Souls II.
Garona (Paula Patton)
Garona is a half-orc, half-draenei who will likely be caught between the waring Alliance and Horde factions in the film. We expect the Horde emissary to either believe she is half-orc, half-human (instead of draenei) or that the character's race will be rewritten that way entirely. Garona is a dangerous assassin and whichever side she decides to betray is in serious danger.
Patton's take on Garona is one of the few non-CG orcs in the film. Her scenes were captured with live action and the special effects team used makeup to help sell the actress as a half-orc. Patton is about to have two Mission Impossible films under her belt, so we have no doubt that the rising action star can pull off the assassin.
Durotan (Toby Kebbel)
Although WoW players who skipped the original Warcraft games may associate Thrall as the most famous orc, old school RTS players know Durotan, son of Garad, as the Chieftain of the Frostwolf. Durotan's main claim to fame is his refusal to partake in the Demonic Bargain and drink the gift of Mannoroth's blood. If you've seen the Warlords of Draenor cinematic trailers, then you're probably familiar with this ritual. In the original Warcraft history, not the upcoming rewritten history of Warlords, Durotan and his clan are exiled when he refuses the gift.
It's unclear at this time whether Durotan and Anduin will act as direct rivals in the film. Considering the film's timeline, it seems like a safe assumption that the blood gift will be a crucial plot point, but we don't know how early in the movie Durotan's exile from the Horde will take place. In the original lore, Durotan and his clan are already exiled and settled in the Alterac Mountains during the First War.
Toby Kebbel will be suiting up in motion caption gear to bring the orc Chieftan to life and he appears to have the appropriate track record to pull it off. Kebbel played Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so he is already familiar with the difficult task of bringing a non-human character to life. Durotan is one of the most honorable and likable orc characters that we'll meet during the First and Second War era.
Orgrim (Rob Kazinsky)
Orcs don't get much more famous than Orgrim Doomhammer. The eventual Warchief and right hand man to Durotan was destined to wield the legendary Doomhammer and his legacy can be seen throughout the Horde territories in WoW. From Orgrimmar to Hammerfall, Orgrim is remembered as one of the fiercest warriors and strongest leaders that the orc armies ever served under.
Anyone who watched the Warcraft panel at BlizzCon is already aware that Kazinsky brings a great energy to the role. From picking up a giant replica of Doomhammer and shaking it over his head, to bragging about having 500+ days /played, Kazinsky seems to really get the Warcraft mentality. As the header photo shows up top, he makes a pretty scary orc, as well.
Next: Blackhand (Clancy Brown)...
During the bulk of the First War, Blackhand the Destroyer serves as the Warchief of the Horde. The brutal leader is as tactically brilliant as he is power-hungry and his ruthlessness makes his a strong Warchief in the raids against the humans of Stormwind. His brutal tactics don't earn him many friends on either side of the war though and he is a leader who needs to always sleep with one eye open.
Clancy Brown is a seasoned action (with lots of quality Marvel animated experience) and seems like another wise choice for a motion capture character. Brown's extensive experience in animated projects should have given him all the practice he needs to help bring this kind of larger than life character to the screen.
Gul’Dan (Daniel Wu)
Gul'Dan is a character who changes quite a bit throughout Azeroth history, but we think it's safe to assume movie-goers will meet the orc while he is one of the Horde's shamans. Gul'Dan's corruption and eventual path towards a darker form of magic will put the Horde in the crosshairs of the Alliance.
Daniel Wu has a lengthy resume, but is probably best known for his roles in The Protege or The Banquet. Gul'Dan is one of the darkest characters on the Horde's side of the fence, so Wu will have to pull off creepy and corrupt to make the character work.
Are there any other characters from Warcraft lore that you think will make a surprise appearance? Do you think this cast has what it takes to rise above the usual curse of the video game movie? Let us know in the comments.
Warcraft is slated to open in theaters on March 11, 2016.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.