The co-creator of the Halo series, Marcus Lehto, responds to criticism of the Paramount+ TV show adaptation’s take on the original video games.
Marcus Lehto, the co-creator of the Halo franchise, responds to criticisms of the Paramount TV series’ adaptation of the video games. Lehto worked at Bungie from 1997 to 2012 and is credited as one of the key creative figures behind the highly successful Halo games, contributing to every instalment up until Halo: Reach, after which he left the company. In fact, his initials (M.R.L) are stamped on the bottom of Master Chief’s boot, as Lehto was in charge of the iconic armour design that became a trademark for the series.
After a tumultuous development process, with names such as Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson originally attached at certain points, the Halo show eventually found its way to Paramount+ and began production in 2019. It was released in March of this year and set a record as the most-watched series premiere in the platform’s history. However, the series was soon met with polarized online discourse. The reception from audiences has been animated, with some expressing disappointment at what they see as a poor script and a diversion from the original Halo source material. The series’ Rotten Tomatoes audience score currently sits at an unimpressive 52 percent, though its critic score is currently at a much stronger 70 percent. Star Pablo Schreiber, who plays Master Chief, recently defended the series against critics, explaining that the Halo show was intended to be a different experience.
Letho is now wading into this discourse too, as the Halo co-creator took to Twitter to voice his displeasure at the show’s direction. Responding to a thread discussing the show, Lehto writes that “I’m not sure where the inspiration for the show comes from.” Following one user saying that Halo “takes the brand [and] strays it away from the heart of the [series],” Lehto agreed that the show is unfaithful to the original games. See his tweet below:
Yeah, I’m not sure where the inspiration for the show comes from now. Not the Halo I made.
— Marcus Lehto ???????? (@game_fabricator) May 16, 2022
Lehto’s response is a fairly damming condemnation, since the co-creator’s authority on the matter no doubt influences audiences of the Halo series. However, many creative decisions fuelled the backlash to Halo before Lehto voiced his opinion. For example, a particularly controversial decision the show took was to have Master Chief remove his helmet in episode 1. This was met with criticism by those who viewed the move as inaccurate to Halo lore, but was supported by employees at the current Halo developers 343 Industries, who saw it as necessary for the television medium. This, and many other diversions from the original Halo games (such as Cortana’s design) has created a rift between viewers who are disappointed by the way the show has handled a beloved property, and those who see the show as a chance to create something new.
With his tweet, Lehto has placed himself firmly on the disappointed side of the argument, and adds fuel to an already fiery discourse. Whether or not the criticisms from audiences and past developers will contribute to changes in the already confirmed Halo season 2 remains to be seen, but this may prove beneficial to the show’s future success. Over the course of its 20-year run, the Halo games franchise has sold 81 million copies, and Paramount may decide to cater to this substantial potential audience with more game accuracy in season 2. However, details about the next Halo series installment are yet to be revealed.
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