EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, films like those mentioned here might not exist.
David Hayter’s is a familiar voice in film as Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake, and he is a co-screenwriter on X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and Watchmen. For the 2023 Fan Expo Chicago Convention, Hayter recently sat down with Film Obsessive’s Mike Crowley, host of the You’ll Probably Agree podcast, to discuss the process of screenwriting big-budget blockbusters and Solid Snake’s empathy over Big Bosses. Hayter shares what voicing Metal Gear was like and how he worked to balance an ensemble of characters in his superhero-led screenplays.
For those who don’t know what Metal Gear Solid is, Metal Gear Solid is a groundbreaking video game that blends the line between video games and movies, making video games the cinematic works of art they are today. Without Metal Gear Solid, there would be no Uncharted or The Last of Us. The Metal Gear series has sold 60 million units worldwide. Hayter has voiced the protagonist of the game for years, and over that time he has seen dramatic change in the industry.
As a screenwriter, Hayter also saw the industry shift towards a heavy focus on superheroes. Pre- and post-Christopher Reeves Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman, Hollywood wasn’t as superhero obsessed as they are today. That changed in 2000 with X-Men, followed two years later with Sam Rami’s Spider-Man. If not for Hayter’s contribution to the X-Men screenplay, who knows where modern blockbusters would be today.
To challenge himself even further, Hayter penned the screenplay from the beloved graphic novel Watchmen. Although met with mixed results, the 2009 film’s screenplay is as faithful to the comic as possible, with an ending that changes one small detail for the better. Hayter explains why he ditched the giant squid for something more tangible in the movie.