Wing Commander Film and Series 🛸 Release Dates, Cast, Plots, Reviews, Opinions

Wing Commander Adaptations

Wing Commander is a video game franchise that has been around for over two decades. The game series is developed by Origin Systems and is part of the space-combat simulation genre. Most of Wing Commander’s titles are only available on PC, while some have also been released on consoles. Most of the games were released during the 1990s. 

  • Wing Commander (1990)
  • Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (1991)
  • Wing Commander Academy (1993)
  • Wing Commander: Privateer (1993)
  • Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (1993)
  • Wing Commander: Armada (1993)
  • Super Wing Commander (1993)
  • Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom (1996)
  • Privateer 2: The Darkening (1996)
  • Wing Commander: Prophecy (1997)
  • Wing Commander Arena (2007)
 

Wing Commander was part of the craze of flight games in the 90s, but still remains one of the most respected flight sim series. The creators didn’t only stop at the games, though.

There are other forms of Wing Commander media, including a TV series, a card game, a few novels, a feature film, and action figures.

 

 

Everything About Wing Commander: Academy (1996)

Wing Commander Academy (1996) poster
Source: Universal Cartoon Studios and NBC Universal

 

Production, Release Date, and Reception

Wing Commander: Academy was an American TV series based on the Wing Commander games. The series was produced by Universal Cartoon Studios, alongside a team with Larry Latham as their leader. The series can be considered as a prequel to the Wing Commander video game series. The TV series aired on the USA Network for during the fall of 1996.

The series was airing at 11:30 am on Saturdays, lasting for three months in 1996, from September 21st to December 21st. The series was kid-focused, airing between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat shows, at 11 am and noon respectively.

Wing Commander: Academy (1996) Intro

 

16 years later, on March 6, 2012, Wing Commander Academy – The Complete Series was released, courtesy of Visual Entertainment. The series also became available for streaming on Peacock on July 15, 2020.

 

Cast and Characters

  • Malcolm McDowell (Commodore Geoffrey Tolwyn)
 
  • Thomas F. Wilson (Todd Marshall)
 
  • Dana Delany (Gwen Bowman)
 
  •  Lauri Hendler (Lindsay Price/Maya McEaddens)
 
  • Ron Perlman (Daimon Karnes)
 
  •  Kevin Schoen (Thrakhath nar Kiranka)
 
  • Jessica Walter (Admiral Rhea Bergstrom)
 
  • Michael Dorn (The Warrior King)
 
  • Joan Van Ark (Dr. Bronwyn Sing)
 
 

Plot/Sypnosis

The series features a bunch of the ships that can be found in the Wing Commander games.

Initially, Wing Commander: Academy was aimed to be tied to Wing Commander III. For fans of the gaming series, Academy was set between Wing Commander I Secret Missions, ending with Operation Crusade. The series would also include some of Wing Commander III characters.

The main characters of the series were using the Broadsword and the Scimitar, as well as the Grikath and Dralthi. There are also points in the series when ships that weren’t yet released would appear, such as the Hellcat, Longbow, and Avenger from Wing Command III and IV.

None of those ships are ever name-dropped though. There were also a bunch of new ship classes introduced, such as the Agan Ra Sivar class and Achilles class.

 

Review and Opinions

Unlike the Wing Commander movie (which we mention below), Chris Roberts, the creator of the Wing Commander games, didn’t have much involvement in the series.

Compared to the movie, the TV series’ purpose is to pay homage to the video game series. It’s evident that the people behind Academy loved Wing Commander, and tried their best to keep the series true to the game.

The show itself looks really similar to the later releases of the Wing Commander series, like Wing Commander III. While some of the characters look different, the rest is almost identical to the games. That includes ships, fighters, uniforms, and everything in-between.

As fans of the games, the creators of the TV series included some of their favorite fighters from the first WC games, such as Broadswords and Scimitars. This was a nice touch for long-time fans of the series.

Unfortunately, despite an amazing cast and stellar writing, Wing Commander Academy wasn’t appreciated as much by the audience. It only lasted for 13 episodes, which is sad to hear for Wing Commander fans.

 

 

Everything About Wing Commander (1999) Movie 

Wing Commander Academy (1996) poster
Source: 20th Century Fox

 

 

Production, Release Date, and Reception

The Wing Commander movie was released on March 12, 1999. The movie was directed by the creator of Wing Commander, Chris Roberts. But, it wasn’t a success.

The movie almost lost 20th Century Fox $20 million, remaining as one of the worst movies of all time. Its reviews are abysmal. This eventually led to the death of the Wing Commander franchise, and the Roberts’ branching out desires.

Wing Commander (1999) Trailer

 

The movie was heavily criticized by long-time fans of the games for not staying true to the visuals of the recent games. The most notable change is the Kilrathi, which looks completely different from the game.

The actors that Roberts chose looked nothing like their in-game counterparts, or the actors that played on the TV series.

Many changes were also made when it came to the characters’ backstories, including the entire plot of the games.

The fans’ dismay can be seen on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie received a 10% average, based on 50 reviews.

 

Cast and Characters

  • Freddie Prinze Jr. (Lt. Christopher Blair)
 
  • Saffron Burrows (Lt. Cdr. Jeanette Deveraux)
 
  • Matthew Lillard (Lt. Todd Marshall)
 
  • TchĂ©ky Karyo (Commodore James Taggart)
 
  • JĂĽrgen Prochnow (Cdr. Paul Gerald)
 
  • David Warner (Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn)
 
  • David Suchet (Captain Jason Sansky)
 
  • Ginny Holder (Lt. Rosie Forbes)
 
  • Hugh Quarshie (Lt. Obutu)
 
  • Ken Bones (Admiral Bill Wilson)
 
  • John McGlynn (Richard Bellegarde)
 
  • Richard Dillane (Lt. Hunter)
 
  • Mark Powley (Lt. Adam Polanski)
 
  • David Fahm (Lt. Knight)
 
  • Simon MacCorkindale (Flight Boss)
 
  • Fraser James (Helmsman)
 
  • Craig Kelly (Radar Man Falk)
 
  • Kieron Phipps (Peterson)
 
  • Jamie Treacher (Pegasus Radar Man)
 
  • Cyril Nri (Security Officer)
 
  • Jari Kinnunen (Concordia Radar Man)
 
  • Raffaello Degruttola (Rodriguez)
 
  • Paul Courtenay Hyu (Com Officer)
 
  • Mark Jones (Kilrathi Admiral)
 
  • Graham Riddell (Kilrathi Captain)
 
  • Christopher P. Kibbey (Medic)
 
  • Mark Hamill (Merlin (voice))
 
  • John Bondi (Lt. Court)
 
  • Chris Roberts (Lt. Roberts)
 
 

Plot/Sypnosis

The movie takes place in 2654. An intergalactic war is raging on, between the Kilrathi Empire and the Terran Confederation. The Kilrathi are seeking the obliteration of humans.

A huge Kilrathi fleet assaults the Pegasus Station, an essential base to the Confederation. The fleet manages to take control of a navigation computer, which helps them locate Earth. Geoffrey Tolwyn, a Terran admiral, recalls his fleet in order to defend earth. But, the armada is estimated to arrive a couple of hours late.

He then orders Christopher Blair, a Terran lieutenant, to fight alongside Captain Jason Sansky, in a suicidal mission, to buy the armada time in order for it to arrive and protect the earth.

 

Review and Opinions

The Wing Commander games were perfect for the big screen. The plot was simple, and the backstories of the characters were interesting and easy to follow.

The movie doesn’t manage to do any of that correctly. It might have been due to its low budget, but the Wing Commander movie had really bad special effects and lame dialogues.

Godfrey Cheshire of Variety: “Though the ingredients are potent, their blending here mostly comes off as formulaic, humdrum and sometimes unintentionally laughable.”

Mike Massie of Gone With The Twins: “It would have worked better as a single episode of a sci-fi television show rather than a standalone theatrical picture.”