When developing the “Metal Gear” series, one of Hideo Kojima’s favorite films was the John Carpenter/Kurt Russel film “Escape from New York”, which he reportedly was fond of when it first came out in his late teens (Although at time he’s denied that Snake in the games was based on Snake from the movie, it’s apparent there’s some kind of connection.
Let’s start with the easy one to point out-Both characters are named Snake, although this extends to several Metal Gear characters, many of which are physically identical, mostly due to genetics: Naked Snake AKA Big Boss and his clones Solid, Liquid and Solidus, as well as his body double Venom Snake. Big Boss, Venom Snake and Solidus eventually gain eyepatches, a trademark of Plissken-although it’s also a trait that extends to several other ‘badass’ characters as well, including DC comic’s Deathstroke, Marvel’s Nick Fury, or both John Wayne and Jeff Bridge’s “True Grit” characters. Going back even further, it’s also associated with 17th century pirates and the Norse god Odin as well. I suppose in a few ways it’s seen as a sign of a wound in combat, as many of these characters are vets of various conflicts (Fury, for example, fought in World War II and had several comic stories set in that period). Solid Snake also has an eyepatch of sorts, although in his case it’s sort of an enhanced tactical tool and not an actual sign of impairment. But given the name, and the movie’s effect on Kojima, I think it’s fair to say it might be a homage to Snake Plissken.
Plissken, Solid, Big Boss and Venom are also quite fond of smoking-although their brands differ. Solid Snake, like Plissken, prefers to smoke cigarettes instead of the big cigars like his ‘father’ and his ‘double’ Big Boss.
The English dub voice of Big Boss and Solid Snake up to Metal Gear Solid V-David Hayter-also seems to have adopted a voice for Snake that’s very similar to Kurt Russel’s quiet-but-still-gritty delivery in the film.
Russel’s Snake is a former war hero, in a sense like Big Boss, but one who’s tired of hypocrisy; although Russel’s character never really forms his own mercenary company which turns into a nation all it’s own. He does however, become a criminal of sorts, although one not apparently detained in New York. In this way, he’s more relate able to Solid Snake perhaps. Solid Snake is also of course also a war hero, for his actions in Outer Heaven, Zanzibar land, and further back in the Gulf War.
Both are brought out from their ‘retirement’-Plissken from his prison, and Solid from hanging out with Huskies in Alaska, and given a briefing on the mission that’s supposed to take place- a solo infiltration to rescue a hostage. In Plissken’s case, the president of the United states who was forced to evacuate Air Force One into the now Prison city of New York. In Solid Snake’s case, the DARPA Chief Donald Anderson and the ARMSTECH president Kenneth Baker (Who were secretly developing Metal Gear Rex).
Snake Plissken’s mission is given to him by Lee Van Cleef’s character, Bob Hauk, who also communicates with him a few times on the mission. Although his role is similar to that of Cambpell in the game, Van Cleef’s numerous roles in westerns is perhaps one of the inspirations for Metal Gear’s anti-villain, the clearly western-inspired Revolver Ocelot.
In both cases, Snake is given injections and something to keep track of him-a tracker (in Solid Snake’s case, nanomachines, in Plissken’s case a hidden button). However, they’re both given something a bit more lethal as well-Plissken with artery-bursting explosives, Solid Snake-unknowingly (as it comes with the nanomachines)-the virus FOXDIE, meant to take out the rogue FOXHOUND group-and possibly himself.
Both have 24 hours to complete their mission. However, while Solid Snake is sent via a pod from a submarine, Snake Plissken’s entry into New York is more reminiscent of Naked Snake/Big Boss’s entry into soviet territory in Operation Snake Eater. Which utilized a Lockheed drone from an M21. In both cases, very small and fragile planes, both of which don’t make it back in one piece either.
In the next post, we’ll see how both missions unfold, and see what other influences are present throughout pretty much all the games.