Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin are understanding of fans displeased with the changes they made adapting The Last of Us’ infection for live-action.
The fan and critic reaction to HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, but the show’s creators say they recognize and appreciate that the changes they’ve made to the story may not please everyone.
“I’ve learned to expect backlash from sneezing,” series co-creator Neil Druckmann told Variety. “I think it speaks to the kind of fans that we have, who are so protective and love the world and these characters so much that anything they see as a deviation, without the full context of what it means, they assume the worst and push back on it.” Druckmann’s comments specifically address how the Cordyceps spread in The Last of Us series versus the game — in The Last of Us game, the infection spreads via spores, whereas the series employs tendrils — a change that may not sit well with video game purists.
“I think that addition is something worthwhile,” Druckmann added. “It’s actually one of those additions where I’m like, ‘Oh man, I wish we had it for the game. I wish we had thought of it years ago, because I love it so much.'” Fellow co-creator Craig Mazin is empathetic with those who find the change difficult to reconcile. “That’s all right if people are upset by it — I don’t blame them,” he said.
The Last of Us’ Passionate Fanbase
Mazin also suggested the backlash is a testament to how engaged fans are with the series. “Everybody dreams of working on something where the fan engagement is to this level, where people will argue about these things or feel passionate about them,” he said. At the same time, Mazin argued that the series’ detractors may grow to appreciate his and Druckmann’s creative changes if they give themselves time to adjust. “I do feel sometimes, if you just see how it goes, I think you’ll be OK. A lot of that has happened, but there will also definitely be people who are like, ‘You fucked up,’ and I get it. We definitely will not make everyone happy, I know that much.”
Mazin and Druckmann further explained why they changed the Cordyceps’ spores to tendrils. “We did our best to find what’s unique about our story and world,” Druckmann said. “It’s not so much about the bite, they just need these tendrils to go from one host to another and that’s how the infection spreads.” Meanwhile, Mazin confirmed that spores are still an element of the infection. “If you listen carefully, the word ‘spores’ is mentioned,” he said. “I don’t necessarily know if we’re going to see any spores this time around, but to say that our world is devoid of them would not be accurate.”
Episodes 1 and 2 of The Last of Us are currently available on HBO Max, while Episode 3 airs on Jan. 30.
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