Anthony Mackie (Black man with close-cropped hair, thin beard, wearing a yellow t-shirt under a green zippered vest) as John Doe Stephanie Beatriz (brown Latina with shoulder-length dark hair wearing a black scarf and grey shirt under a dark maroon blazer) as Quiet in a scene from Peacock's 'Twisted Metal.' they are standing side-by-side in a dark industrial hallway looking toward something that seems unpleasant.

‘Twisted Metal’ Is Reminding Us That TV Video Game Adaptations Are Allowed To Be Fun

From The Last of Us to Arcane, recent TV video game adaptations have been brilliant … but you wouldn’t exactly call them “laugh riots.” You might have fun playing the games themselves, but the shows either lean into or create drama to make sure you know how serious the source material is.

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Peacock’s Twisted Metal is having none of that. This is a show for folks who want fast cars, a colorful cast of characters, and zany adventures, all served with the game series’ trademark dark sense of humor.

Wait, we’re getting a TV adaptation of the Twisted Metal series?

Check out the trailer above for the upcoming Twisted Metal series coming to Peacock this week! (If you want the trailer with curse-words-and-all, you can check out the “explicit” version HERE.)

What is Twisted Metal about?

Anthony Mackie (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Altered Carbon) and Stephanie Beatriz (Encanto, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) star in the new series coming to Peacock this week! Here’s the official synopsis:

TWISTED METAL, a half-hour live-action TV series based on the classic PlayStation game series, is a high-octane action comedy, based on an original take by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick and written by Michael Jonathan Smith, about a motor-mouthed outsider offered a chance at a better life, but only if he can successfully deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. With the help of a badass axe-wielding car thief, he’ll face savage marauders driving vehicles of destruction and other dangers of the open road, including a deranged clown who drives an all too familiar ice cream truck.

Peacock released this fun clip featuring a scene in which John and Sweet Tooth pause mid-fight to bond over Sisqó:

There’s also the wish fulfillment element of the games, embodied by Neve Campbell, who offers to grant John a wish in exchange for him doing a job for her, inviting him to think bigger than two-ply toilet paper.

However, what’s less clear is whether the titular Twisted Metal vehicular combat tournament that is the centerpiece of the games will be a main part of the show. Campbell, as a character named Raven, seems to be filling the “host” role, but the “controlled” (if you can call it that) tournament-style car combat seems to have been replaced by … doing a job and having random car combat in the streets.

Yikes.

Still, the show seems to capture what’s important: fast cars, action, and the dark humor one can expect from a story that prominently features a big dude in a clown mask who comes to destroy you in an off-the-wall ice cream truck, flinging napalm vanilla or chocolate cones at you.

Who’s in it?

Mackie plays John Doe, the “motor-mouthed outsider,” while Beatriz plays Quiet, the “axe-wielding car thief” who doesn’t talk much. They head up a cast that includes Thomas Haden Church (Spider-Man: No Way Home), Will Arnett (Lego Masters), and Joe Seanoa (AEW), along with guest stars like Neve Campbell (the Scream series), Richard Cabral (Mayans M.C.), Mike Mitchell (Sonic the Hedgehog 2), Tahj Vaughans (P-Valley), and Lou Beatty Jr. (A Million Little Things).

The show is based on “an original take by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick” (the guys behind Deadpool and Zombieland) and is written by showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith (Cobra Kai). Judging by the trailer and clips released, there are elements of the game that are clearly there, including “deranged clown,” Sweet Tooth, who is voiced by Will Arnett and performed by Joe Seanoa.

What’s the deal with the Twisted Metal games?

Joe Seanoa (large, muscular white wrestler-looking man) as Sweet Tooth in Peacock's 'Twisted Metal.' He is wearing a clown mask, a leather harness over a bare chest, red gloves, and white pants with large red polka dots on them He's standing in the back of a truck with one foot propped up on something and one hand propping him up against a wall with a bunch of sharp tools hanging on it. He's looking out of the open back of the truck.
Joe Seanoa as Sweet Tooth (Skip Bolen, Peacock)

If you’re like me, and either weren’t playing video games in the 1990s, or you weren’t playing driving games because you suck at them and it’s not even like real driving anyway, so shut up!

Ahem.

If you’re like me, you might not be as familiar with the Twisted Metal games. But the series was part of a lot of people’s childhoods, and games in the series have sold over five million copies to date.

Each game has its own storyline and characters, but they all center around the ‘Twisted Metal’ demolition derby, where drivers use ballistic projectiles, machine guns, mines, and even nuclear weapons and satellite-based weapons to take out their competition. The last driver alive wins.

As a player, you choose a vehicle and an arena, kinda like how you choose your combatant and stage in games like Street Fighter or Soul Calibur. You can then pick up weapons and upgrades that are scattered throughout the arena as you play.

What does the winner get after all that? Nothing short of having one wish granted. The tournament’s hosts have the magical ability to bend reality, allowing them to truly grant any wish. Sounds great in theory, but the hosts aren’t the most altruistic folks (they are hosting a murder competition after all), so more often than not, the wishes as delivered aren’t exactly what the winning contestants had in mind.

Twisted Metal first arrived in 1995, with Twisted Metal 2 hot on its heels in 1996. Both games were developed by the now-defunct game developer SingleTrac. After a contract dispute with SingleTrac, Sony handed over the development duties for the series to their in-house development team, 989 Studios. They delivered Twisted Metal III in 1998 and Twisted Metal 4 in 1999.

The games in the series continued to come out at reliable intervals through the early aughts: Twisted Metal: Black (2001), Twisted Metal: Head-On (2005), and Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition (2008) along with a couple of spinoff games sprinkled in. There hasn’t been a new game in the series since 2012’s Twisted Metal, but several of the games were re-released as part of the Sony Greatest Hits program.

So, where and how can I watch Twisted Metal?

Stephanie Beatriz (brown Latina with shoulder-length dark hair wearing a black scarf and grey shirt under a dark maroon blazer) as Quiet, and Anthony Mackie (Black man with close-cropped hair, thin beard, wearing a yellow t-shirt under a zippered vest) as John Doe in a scene from Peacock's 'Twisted Metal.'  John is in the driver's seat of a car with Quiet as a passenger. They are both looking at something weird and concerning out the window. John is the foreground and Quiet is out of focus.
Stephanie Beatriz as Quiet and Anthony Mackie as John Doe. (Skip Bolen, Peacock)

Showrunner Michael Jonathan Smith hopes that Twisted Metal will make folks who feel like outsiders feel seen. In a statement released to the press, he said:

“This is a bonkers show about insiders and outsiders, and how our own special apocalypse has divided and isolated us more than ever. But there’s hope. You can find your people and your community. You may just have to get past a terrifying clown driving a well-armed ice cream truck to find them.”  

All ten episodes of Twisted Metal season one premiere exclusively on Peacock Thursday, July 27.

(featured image: Skip Bolen, Peacock / Sony TV)


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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.