3 people who should have been TV’s Master Chief on Halo
After over two decades since Bungie released its groundbreaking first-person shooter, Halo, fans finally have the opportunity to see their favorite biologically engineered weapon on television. Halo, the TV series, along with its legendary protagonist, John-117 AKA Master Chief, made their debut on Paramount+ on March 24, 2022.
The pilot episode has received some glaringly negative reviews from some of the franchise’s most enthusiastic patrons. The series seems to be running into a lot of the same issues that many video game-inspired shows and movies constantly trip over: trying to be too cinematic, straying away from the source material, or just outright ignoring it. Critics have actually given the first two episodes rosier feedback, as it’s garnered a 60% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.
Regardless of if the show provides more fan service moving forward, it’s already provided some top-tier comedy at the expense of its lead actor, Pablo Schreiber. Part of Master Chief’s mythology is that he never, ever reveals his face in the games. The TV series dropped that hammer in the pilot. Fans were a little… underwhelmed, to say the least.
As pictured, the criticism isn’t actually over Schreiber’s acting. It’s more so that his whole aesthetic — one reminiscent of All Lives Matter and socks and sandals — screams more “Pornstache” than the Master Chief. As with the series overall, critics were much kinder to Schreiber than the general audience, with many praising the Orange Is the New Black actor for humanizing and reinvigorating a canonically stoic character. In the end, though, Halo’s gamers are what will measure the true success of this new series, and casting Schreiber as the lead may have doomed the venture from the start.
Here are three people who could have better captured the look and divinity of John-117.
1. Sam Worthington
Sam Worthington may be a little too busy filming Avatar 2, but he would have been a perfect choice to capture what is perhaps Xbox’s most well-known hero. He has plenty of experience playing an action hero, having already portrayed Jake Sully and Perseus in the Clash of the Titans reboot. He also has the fortitude necessary to match Master Chief’s steely demeanor. Plus, that Australian gruff would have made for a stronger, more commanding voice for the Spartans’ greatest leader.
Worthington is objectively more handsome than Pornstache, which would have made him significantly less “meme-able.” Lastly, Worthington proved that he could pull on heartstrings in The Shack, a Christian drama that has Worthington playing a father juggling faith and grief after losing his daughter to a child rapist/murderer. Worthington has had major success on the big screen but has mostly struck out on TV. Maybe becoming John-117 would have changed that.
2. Trevante Rhodes
Yes, according to Halopedia, Master Chief is canonically white — as were 99% of video game protagonists from the early 2000s. But it cannot be denied that Trevante Rhodes would have made for a much fiercer, believable John-117.
Rhodes is appropriately larger than life whenever he appears on screen, and that’s the kind of otherworldly presence that a character of Master Chief’s pedigree deserves. He also might be the most beautiful man on Erde-Tyrene and would probably top Eridanus II as well.
Rhodes is probably overqualified for this role, but he’s shown the desire to star in action flicks (Bird Box, The Predator, 12 Strong). He would have absolutely brought Master Chief to life and would probably only receive a little criticism for being not white.
3. Nikola Pekovic
Speaking of Halo canon, Master Chief is apparently a towering 6’10. If it weren’t for the constant interstellar warfare, he would have had an illustrious career as a power forward.
The showrunners could have saved themselves some CGI work and money by casting a real-life behemoth like Nikola Pekovic. If they meant for Master Chief’s face reveal to be a daunting, almost intimidating moment, Pekovic would have perfectly fit the part.
In a league of giant human beings, Pekovic was regarded as one of the fiercest enforcers on the hardwood. At multiple points in his six-year NBA career, he would have clocked in at 6’11, 300-lbs. There’s a reason he was nicknamed “the Godfather.”
Not only was he tough on the court, he quickly made headlines after he retired from the league for affiliations with Darko Saric, an infamous Serbian drug lord. Pekovic is currently serving as the president of the Montenegrin Basketball Federation, but I’d bet he’d be willing to make his acting debut to portray the Master Chief himself.