How might a Warhammer 40k film look if it had been created in the 1980s, the golden age of budget sword and sorcery cinema? Using the Midjourney image-making AI, YouTube channel TechMagelanic has been exploring that very question, uploading reels of the resulting images to their channel – with the Space Marine Primarchs a particular standout.
Between the AI and, we assume, TechMagelanic’s careful pruning of unsuitable images, the results are impressive. The key visual features of the characters are there: Sanguinius’ angelic wings and blonde locks, Lorgar Aurelian’s golden script tattoos, Mortarion’s sallow skin and gas mask.
Everything is slightly wrong, of course, but then that’s what you expect from a 1980s movie. Plasticky-looking armour, wildly different interpretations of Angron’s cranial implants, a plasticky wig for Magnus the Red, all look just cheap enough to come from a forgotten swords and lasers B-movie of yesteryear.
TechMagelanic has also set Midjourney to picture several other Warhammer 40k factions – the Drukhari come off particularly well from the 1980s treatment, while the Orks look wrong, mostly in a “what’s up with their fingers?” kind of way.
Sadly, there wasn’t a Warhammer 40k film in the 1980s – the first edition of the game only launched in 1987. At the moment your options for watching Warhammer 40k films are pretty limited.
There’s the atrocious, animated Ultramarines movie, though you’ll struggle to find a copy – the Inquisition seems to have purged it from all media services. Then there’s the Warhammer Plus, which has a small selection of solid Warhammer 40k animations.
The prospect of a Warhammer 40k Henry Cavill series looms on the horizon, following the confirmation by Games Workshop and Amazon Studios that the former Superman star is attached to a project to create Warhammer 40k films and TV.
Though there’s a firm commitment by both parties to come to an agreement, GW doesn’t expect to sign on the line for the licensing deal this financial year, partly because they want to ensure the deal does no harm to the Warhammer 40k IP.