So about that scene in Wolfenstein II (SPOILERS)


#1

I realize the thread title is non-descriptive, but I figured you can’t be too careful with spoilers. The scene I’m referring to is the one with Hitler on Venus. When I played it I was equal parts shocked and amazed that they actually “went there”. However, now that I’ve had a couple days to process it, I can’t help but feel the whole scene lacked any sort of message outside of “let’s laugh at decrepit Hitler”.

I mean, let’s consider the scene. Hitler, victorious conquerer of Earth and beyond, is living comfortably on a base on Venus. Though he is clearly showing signs of dementia, he’s still lucid enough to exalt his extermination of Jews and other undesirables. He still maintains his cult of personality, and he still is revered by his Nazi followers. Literally the only thing to make fun of is his dementia, something that could strike any one of us, whether we perpetrate genocide or not.

Compared to the rest of the world Machinegames has created, this critique of Hitler feels so toothless. Perhaps I’m missing something here? What do you folks think?

Addendum: I am also willing to consider the possibility that BJ died during his execution and the second half of the game is his dying dream. It sure would explain the abrupt tonal shift in both narrative and gameplay.


#2

I get what you’re saying here, and I might agree with some of it but yo

I got to kick hitler in the fucking face. Don’t care if it’s a failstate I did it like five times no joke.


#3

Samesies! I totally did it over and over again to see if there was any way to survive. Alas, there wasn’t.


#4

I wish they had let you at least try to shoot your way out of there. It seems like they just kill you immediately.


#5

The scene didn’t make me laugh, but I was amused by the juxtaposition in it. The leader of an aryan cult is right in your face, almost vibrating with hate against “lesser races” to the point where saliva flies from his mouth, while peeing in a bucket and walking in his own vomit. Machine Games probably isn’t making a very deep statement here beyond lampshading how utterly ridiculous racial biology ideas are, how hypocritical its followers and leadership is, and how hate is the real underlying ugliness of these people.

I don’t think Machine Games wants to make fun of mental incapabilities, just look at how kindly they treat Max Hass. Similarly, the scene with Hitler could have been sad or warm, but his own hate is what sets it apart.

But like I said, I don’t think this scene is necessarily hiding some deep message from the developers. It’s another schlocky scene in a schlocky shooter, albeit a shooter where the writing is both good and pretty consistent about which people it chooses to emphatize with.


#6

It’s very much a set up for the main game. It would’ve been lame to not have Hitler in this one at all, but then have him show up as the final boss in the next game.


#7

It reminded me of another scene where a Nazi officer talks to two Southern KKK members and asks them if they’ve been practicing their German. They stumble over the most simple phrase and upset the officer. Not only do the Nazis have poor journalism and horrible taste in art, they’ve also teamed up with another group of simpletons and the only common thing that could be seen as strong about these people is their hate. It’s all that drives them to make their technology, spread their empire and crush resistance. They don’t know how to assimilate people intelligently, so they do it by force. They only know how to make ugly things that kill very well. They only know how to write to spread their own propaganda.

Hitler, too, seems completely useless except for his great hate, his shortsightedness making him overlook everything concerning about BJ’s “performance”. He also dispatches uncaringly the actors who completely submit to him, so he has none of the patience his fellow Nazis do for bad American social climbers.


#8

The comedic timing is so tight in this scene. You start with the assistant telling you to learn very bad lines as if written by a teenager and you tell yourself “no way I’m going to forget that” then Hitler comes up and shit starts to hit the fan so fast that when you’re asked to tell your lines there is literally no way you could have remembered them so you’re like “what the fuck”. Then you realize Hitler himself wrote those lines and it was hilarious to me. He’s just bad. The way he shoots the actor when he said “I’m just an Arizonan” got me roaring too.

His dementia is pretty much set up as a result of his irrational hate and paranoïa that he nurtured over the years, not as a natural result that can happen to any of us. The result of what Hitler could have been in the sixties if he lived. He’s at the center of the joke, but it’s clear he’s not at the center of the narrative. He clearly will be going forward. It also speaks that the might of the Nazi war machine doesn’t rely on Hitler to subsist, he’s not even BJ’s mortal enemy, the story has something else to tell that is far more interesting and wide reaching than a single man, but piling on Hitler is very satisfying in a scene that goes above and beyond the Tarantinesque inspirations that Wolfenstein used to have. It’s one of the scene where I think MachineGames found their own identity with masterful timing and directing, it’s the Wolfenstyle.


#9

I love that you mention that, because it really sums up colonialism in a nutshell. I spent a lot of the Roswell level drawing parallels between what was happening on screen with my own family’s history with colonialism. I’m of South Asian descent, and it’s nuts how much of European imperialism has forced its way into what I consider my people’s culture. Stuff like having chai with my roti and lentil curry, or watching cricket with my uncles, or using the Portuguese loan words for “table” and “bread” when I’m speaking Tamil. I mean, these weren’t the results of hipster fusion, but of brute force colonialism. It made me wonder in this alternative universe how long it would take for it to be the most American thing to wash down your schnitzel with a strawberry milkshake.

And yeah, I also pictured an unhinged British lord in India absent-mindedly shooting brown-skinned social climbers much like Hitler did in that scene.


#10

I like the Klansman/Nazi scene a lot too, because there’s so much menace to it. Hey, Klan fucksticks! Your collaboration will not save you. The Nazis will shoot your ass same as anyone else who is not a pure “Aryan” German Nazi. When they do the language changeover day, those guys are screwed.

The hitler scene is fun and 100% there so that when we fight Mecha-Hitler in Wolf 3, they have some foreshadowing to point to. But making Hitler decrepit, maybe senile, but still hateful also makes the point, I think, that Nazism isn’t just “Hitler.” Hitler was a figurehead for a way of thinking, and that way of thinking can and does exist without him around to shout about it.


#11

I kicked him 3 times.


#12

I did it only twice I am in a deep state of shame right now


#13

The things that struck me in the scene were Hitler’s pride and incompetence. He commanded the room through random violence, a fear that anyone could be next, but his “art” is clearly hack, and he’s certainly not intelligent (whether or not as a result of dementia). Still, he props himself up as totally skilled at determining who’s a spy.

I’ve heard critiques that Wolfenstein continues the depiction of Nazis as flawlessly efficient and technologically superior to any other power of their time, but seeing that it’s all built on the back of a man who’s really not very good at anything (other than waving a Luger around) really undercuts that reading. He’s clearly a “gateway evil” who empowered other evil men and women to rise to power and make big evil war machines.

In this way, it reads as the game’s most direct analog to Trump. He’s no mastermind, but he’s unhinged enough to keep everybody scared, while the competently evil prosper in the environment he creates.


#14

Also, showing the man not just as a mere mortal but one suffering from many frailties which he simply ignores since nobody dares help him take care of himself is a great way to prevent anybody from looking to his portrayal in this game as anything more than a pitiful old man.

I also think the placement of the scene is important. It’s not the final level, and killing the man isn’t the goal at all. You’re after something of strategic worth and value, not a useless man who has declared himself the painter of the Mona Lisa.

Frau Engle is both somebody you have a more personal enmity with, and clearly the person calling the shots on Earth. Killing her and taking the Ausmerzer is a major blow to the Nazi leadership and constitutes a significant loss of resources, all in a majorly public way.

Killing Hitler on Venus though? If anything it would help the Nazis. No more importing champagne and delicacies from Earth (or at least, less of it), no senile man to issue orders that must be obeyed no matter how detrimental they might be to the state, and really no consequences.

They’d be able to cover it up, lie to the whole world, and have somebody competent write the script. If anything, you’d be doing the Nazis a favor. It renders him superfluous to the extreme, and really deflates his potency as a leader.


#15

Kind of a tangent here, but there’s a note you can find in the final chapter of the game from Hitler to Engle where he is bragging and congratulating himself in more detail about his capture of BJ and how much of a hero he is. It’s a telling note and I think this and the casting scene overall does a great job of showing just how incredibly short-sighted the Nazis were for ever looking up to such an incompetent, deeply narcissistic, and spiteful person.

There’s a sense that whole game that the Nazis are trying to maintain the facade that their ideology is sustainable and just (there is several letters to family members where Nazi soldiers ask themselves what the fuck they’re even doing) ,even as the seeds of revolution are planted and things begin crumbling around them just over 13 years after their conquest was completed. Hitlers rapidly deteriorating health is the physical embodiment of what a world ruled by hateful failures is destined for.


#16

In the real world, it’s difficult to read much about the leaders of the Third Reich and not get the sense that they were a bunch of morons, way out of their depth, with no idea what they were doing aside from ever-further expanding hatred. I liked seeing that reflected in Wolfenstein.


#17

Rob brought this point up on the podcast a while back in response to a question about the myth of ruthless Nazi efficiency. The easiest way to debunk this is to remind ourselves that the Nazi’s ranks were made up of failures and losers. People who couldn’t accomplish anything in their personal or professional lives and were embraced by a party that didn’t mind if they were underachievers, as long as they were obedient, racist underachievers. Wolfenstein goes to great lengths to remind you they didn’t get this far using their wit, but using stolen tech to brute force everyone into submission every step of the way.


#18

I still don’t really know how I feel about that scene. Part of me thinks it would have been better to show Hitler as more pathetic. It was Hitler’s personal execution of people that just felt off to me. I kept thinking it would have been more effective to have him all talk, but never able to actually carry anything out himself. It would make the contrast between Engle and Hitler even greater and show how much of a determent Hitler actually was to his own causes in real history.


#19

Yeah, exactly. Does anyone else think that the depiction of Hitler can be read as a metaphor for Trump, to an extent? Even if the comparison isn’t intentional, the sight of a senile, vindictive, paranoid old man vomiting and pissing all over the place, while sycophants cater to his whims and ego, feels uncannily familiar. Especially with all the ghouls around 45 who, though they may hate him as a person, still find him useful as a means to achieve their own awful ends.


#20

While what you say is true, I do feel that Wolf II undermines this message by having the Nazis build a luxury space base on Venus. In 15 years no less! Da’at Yichud technology or no, a feat like that involves a massive mobilization of resources and personnel. So yeah, Hitler and the rest of the Nazis are portrayed as incompetent, but their accomplishments in this universe tell another story.