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So, I watched the Netflix original movie, Bright (link to the trailer) last night. While I wish they could've done it without quite so much profanity, I actually really enjoyed it, maybe because I had virtually zero expectations going into it. It was a lot funnier than I would have anticipated (Jakoby's naivete was great fuel for a number of jokes), and the action sequences were pretty fun to watch.

Even more, though, watching it made me feel very nostalgic for a table-top RPG I played a little bit back in the late 90's called Shadowrun by FASA. Mythical creatures like elves, dwarves, orks, centaurs, faeries, and even dragons are all placed in a more urban and technological setting than we are used to seeing them. Magic is something that everyone fears, respects, and desires simultaneously. From the linked Wikipedia article:

Shadowrun takes place several decades in the future (2050 in the first edition, currently 2079). The end of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar ushered in the "Sixth World", with once-mythological beings (e.g. dragons) appearing and forms of magic suddenly emerging. Large numbers of humans have "Goblinized" into orks and trolls, while many human children are born as elves, dwarves, and even more exotic creatures.

While the movie didn't get into the actual reason for the return of such creatures, the setting is very reminiscent of the game. As I've looked around the Internet, I've also seen a couple of articles suggesting that there's already a sequel planned, so I'm really interested to know more about this history, and if it is intended to (at least, superficially) line up with the world created for Shadowrun. While there aren't any "cyberpunk" elements overtly expressed in the movie, with the upcoming sequel, I have to wonder if that's simply a matter of the specific story being told and its characters.

Can anyone provide specific sources that would confirm or deny the relationship between Bright and Shadowrun?

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    This might be an impossible question to get a definitive answer. If anyone official admitted to Shadowrun as an inspiration copyright issues might ensue. There are clear similarities between the two properties, but that might be said of any of the hundreds of urban fantasy novels. Given the lack of cyberware and cyberspace hacking, I thought "Alien Nation" a closer inspiration. – Vicpylon Jan 1 '18 at 23:59
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    That's certainly a possibility. However, it's also possible (whether likely or not) that the producers of "Bright" and the current owners of Shadowrun came to some sort of agreement ahead of time. Besides, even if it turns out that there is no explicit link between the two properties, it would be nice to know. If there is a link, it would open up some exciting prospects for the rumored sequel. – G_Hosa_Phat Jan 2 '18 at 0:05
  • Well, despite being seemingly novel, Bright is a total rip-off from many things, Shadowrun may be one of them, but I don't see a reason for authors not to even know Shadowrun exists. – Mithoron Jan 4 '18 at 23:43
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The production rights of Shadowrun are currently owned by Catalyst Game Labs, a subsidiary of InMediaRes Productions. Bright was produced by Overbrook Entertainment, Trigger Warning Entertainment, Grand Electric, and was distributed by Netflix. None of the former companies have any affiliation with the latter.

I'd say what you're seeing is simply a cosmetic connection between two otherwise unrelated universes. I could say such works as The Matrix, Aeon Flux, Blade Runner, Dredd, Johnny Mneumonic, etc. all share similarities with Shadowrun. But that certainly doesn't mean there is any kind of tangible connection between them. I mean sure, Bright and Shadowrun both have magic and orcs, but then so does Lord of the Rings.

If you look at Shadowrun more closely, I think you'll see they're far more different than they are similar.

  • Shadowrun takes place in a dystopian future where Megacorporations have achieved ultimate power and influence over society. They are the power brokers. They command their own private armies and regularly engage in criminal activities (corporate espionage, murder, extortion, bribery, etc.)
  • Organized crime is rampant, and is heavily controlled by the corporate landscape; as are the corrupt police forces.
  • The environment is the very definition of cyberpunk. A large portion of the population is equipped with cybernetic implants to augment their physical abilities, to the point where some are more machine than man. The line between organic and cybernetic has grown quite fuzzy.
  • The contrast between rich and poor is extremely distinct. The general population is impoverished; the rich live like kings while everyone else lives in filth and squalor.
  • Magic is one staple of Shadowrun's combat system, but so is combat in the matrix (a traversable, digital realm often explored and exploited by hackers to circumvent corporate security systems.)
  • Thank you for the insight. I suppose the biggest arguments against a direct link would be the greater influence of the megacorps and organized crime that dominates the landscape in the Shadowrun universe, as well as the complete lack of any indication in Bright of cybernetics being used. As you've intimated (and I'm slowly starting to remember), cybernetic implants and replacement were extremely prevalent in Shadowrun, to the point where a "pure" organic being was more of an exception than the rule. While some of the other arguments could likely be explained away as just not being [cont] – G_Hosa_Phat Jan 2 '18 at 14:56
  • [cont] a part of the specific story being told in the movie, these two elements really separate this cinematic work from the Shadowrun universe. I suppose, for me, it was the inclusion of magic and mythical creatures that created the biggest similarities to Shadowrun as we haven't seen those elements used in previous movies like the ones you mentioned above (The Matrix, Aeon Flux, etc). – G_Hosa_Phat Jan 2 '18 at 15:00
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One thing that no one's mentioned yet is the history. Shadowrun experiences a massive change sometime around now that results in orcs, goblins, elves, etc bursting onto the scene.

Bright seems to imply a long history of these races living amongst one another. Almost like Middle Earth grew up with all the other races still around. They keep mentioning some major event 2000 years ago with a Dark Lord, and how the orcs were long time enemies of the other races.

To me this alone ends the idea that Bright is Shadowrun, although it's clearly derivative, which is fine by me.

  • That's a good point that I thought about while watching the movie, but never fully processed/explained to myself. I remember thinking that maybe the event that occurred 2000 years ago caused the other races to disappear and they only recently reappeared. The way the movie describes it, though (as you stated) seems to indicate that they've been around this whole time. – G_Hosa_Phat Jan 4 '18 at 21:17

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