Welcome to Raccoon City Reimagines Chris & Claire Redfield

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, in theaters now.

Of all the dynamics and partnerships over the course of the Resident Evil franchise, the emotional core for the early set of video games was between siblings Chris and Claire Redfield. Claire was introduced in 1998's Resident Evil 2, arriving in Raccoon City to search for her missing older brother before discovering the entire city teeming with ravenous zombies. The two would eventually be reunited in 2000's Resident Evil Code: Veronica, with the siblings dismantling the Umbrella Corporation's latest plot before riding off into the sunset together triumphantly. Chris and Claire similarly play a prominent role in the live-action movie Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, but the feature film adaptation reimagines their origins and dynamic.

Chris and Claire's background was revealed in accompanying material for the Sega Saturn port of the original Resident Evil game, revealing their parents were both killed in a car accident while the Redfield siblings were still young. Chris went on to join the Air Force as a teenager, becoming a decorated pilot and marksman but was eventually dishonorably discharged for disobeying a direct order from a superior officer. After living as a drifter for a time, Barry Burton personally recommends Chris join the Raccoon City Police Department's new elite squad S.T.A.R.S. setting up their role in the 1996 original Resident Evil game.

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While Welcome to Raccoon City retains Chris and Claire losing their parents to a car accident as children, both siblings are enrolled in the Raccoon City Orphanage, which would have its own sinister history and connection to Umbrella revealed in Resident Evil 2. It is this connection that prompts Claire to flee from the orphanage and leave Chris behind when Umbrella scientist William Birkin selects Claire to undergo the next round of genetic experimentation. With Chris still in the orphanage system, he is adopted by Birkin, with the nefarious scientist helping set up Chris with his law enforcement career and the two maintaining a father-son dynamic by the start of the film.

This key change of having Birkin playing such a major role in Chris and Claire's lives from an early age and Claire's running away puts the Redfield siblings on contentious ground at the start of Welcome to Raccoon City. While it's clear that Chris and Claire have been in contact since Claire ran away from the orphanage all those years ago, the two siblings are not particularly happy to see one another again, with Claire in town not to reunite with her brother but to share the truth of what Umbrella has been up to all along. And with Chris feeling so indebted to what Umbrella and Birkin have done for him since losing his parents, Chris isn't keen on believing what Claire presents him with until the truth comes unmistakably close to killing them both, leading to an eventual reconciliation.

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Not quite as close as they were in the video games, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City not only puts the Redfield siblings more at odds with one another at the start of the film but also links their upbringing more closely to the machinations of the Umbrella Corporation and William Birkin. Chris and Claire are not so much searching for each other in Welcome to Raccoon City, as they had in the games, but separately experience the horrors concocted by Umbrella firsthand before reconnecting to take on Birkin one last time as they flee Raccoon City for good.

To see how Claire and Chris' relationship is changed, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is in theaters now.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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