When I read that David Hayter would not be reprising his role as Snake in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I was stunned. Let’s face it, Hayter is Snake, and considering he’s more than available to take on the character he’s known and loved for, it was beyond baffling that Hideo Kojima would throw fans for such a loop. With the announcement of Keifer Sutherland as the incoming voice for Snake, I still didn’t feel any relief. Yeah, Sutherland has that grumpy, grizzly sound down, but there’s so much more nuance to Hayter’s performance than conveying toughness. To be fair, all I’ve heard are some snippets of Sutherland during trailers, so there’s plenty of room to convince me he’s the new man for the role. Thinking about it a little further, though, and I’ve come to the realization that there’s a way to make everyone happy that even fits into the series’ own canon!
To understand what I’m going to propose, you need a little background on the series up to this point. Metal Gear Solid games feature two Snakes, each from different eras. The original Snake, known as Big Boss, appears as the main protagonist in Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, and Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker. The Snake that people are more familiar with is Solid Snake, who appears in all the other Metal Gear games as the main protagonist (with one exception, Metal Gear Solid 2, which features Snake but stars Raiden for the majority of the game). So, why are there two Snakes? The short answer is that Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss, which is why the series has been able to span multiple decades and allows for “two” Snakes to exist simultaneously. Now, the most important development in the Big Boss/Solid Snake relationship came in Metal Gear Solid 4, which is also the springboard for my brilliant strategy!
In MGS4, Solid Snake is suffering from rapid aging, brought about by his origins as a clone. Towards the end of the game, it stands revealed that Big Boss is alive and well, his death having been faked years before. During the long, final cinema scene, Big Boss and Solid, despite both characters having been voiced by Hayter previously, are played by two separate voice actors. As the series has revealed over the years, Solid Snake is not a perfect clone of Big Boss, which is why I believe that Kojima felt the need to have a different person voice Big Boss in MGS4. Solid and Big Boss were both old men at the end of the game, but to establish that the two characters were not totally identical, Kojima made sure that their facial features were slightly different and their voices distinctly so. With the addition of Sutherland as the voice of the younger Big Boss we’ve come to know since MGS3, I think that Kojima can continue this effort to differentiate the character from Solid Snake.
Getting to my idea, I propose that if indeed Sutherland is now Big Boss, there’s still plenty of room for Solid Snake to be voiced by Hayter. Two distinct characters with two distinct voices. Fans have already experienced what it’s like to have two actors portray Big Boss and Solid, so why not continue the trend and make everyone happy? There is of course the issue that Kojima has supposedly wrapped the story of Solid Snake with the conclusion of MGS4, but that doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind. Big Boss’s adventures, by their nature, have to be relegated to the past; with the PS4 and XBox One coming our way, surely Kojima might want to rethink putting Solid on ice when he has all this new tech to play with.
Reversing Solid’s aging problem and returning Metal Gear Solid 6′s settings to modern times with Hayter back in the lead would go a long way towards mending fences with fans who might have been a little disenfranchised by MGS5 up to this point. I don’t see why Kojima couldn’t make this happen and really hope that this is the course they decide to follow for the series from this point forward. Otherwise, I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with Keifer; who knows, we might end up forgetting all about Hayter after MGS5!