William "B.J." Blazkowicz
"B.J." Blazkowicz in Wolfenstein (2009)
|First game||Wolfenstein 3D (1992)|
|Created by||Tom Hall / id Software|
|Voiced by||Matthew Kaminsky (2001)
Peter Jessop (2009)
Brian Bloom (2014–present)
William Joseph "B.J." Blazkowicz (Polish pronunciation: [blasˈkɔvitʂ]) is the protagonist of the Wolfenstein series of alternate history video games starting with 1992's Wolfenstein 3D. An American spy of Polish descent, he specializes in one-man missions behind enemy lines. In addition to fighting the regular German army he also frequently encounters bizarre Nazi experiments concerning biomechanical technology and the occult.
In the Wolfenstein series' backstory, Blazkowicz was born in the United States to a family of Polish immigrants. His mother was Jewish and tried to hide this fact, but with no success. During World War II, B.J. became a sergeant in the U.S. Army Rangers, before receiving his commanding officer's commission and being recruited as the top agent for the United States Office of Secret Actions (OSA), a fictional version of the Office of Strategic Services, who dispatched him to investigate rumors of occult activity by the Third Reich's SS Paranormal Division (inspired by the real-world Ahnenerbe institute and the Thule Society). After World War II, he eventually reared a son named Arthur, who came to have his own son who is the namesake of his grandfather. He would eventually star under a pseudonym, Billy Blaze, throughout the entire Commander Keen series.
In video games
"B.J." Blazkowicz entered the Wolfenstein series with Wolfenstein 3D in 1992. The motion comic series created to promote 2009's Wolfenstein claims a continuous (partially retconned) timeline with Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and finally Wolfenstein (later continued in Wolfenstein: The New Order).
The missions that Blazkowicz participates in include assassinating a series of fictional leaders of German bio-chemical warfare research programs and eventually killing Adolf Hitler himself in Wolfenstein 3D, defeating the Nazi plot to use the Spear of Destiny to summon the Angel of Death in Spear of Destiny, and foiling Heinrich Himmler's ritual to resurrect Heinrich I (a historical king from medieval German history, here portrayed by an evil necromancer) in Return to Castle Wolfenstein wherein he also finds out about Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse's plan to create an army of undead cyborgs.
In 2009's Wolfenstein, he returns to fight the resurgent Fourth Reich's use of a highly destructive energy of great power from the parallel world known as the Black Sun dimension, which is again pitting him against Deathshead. In The New Order, Captain Blazkowicz suffers a head injury in 1946 that leaves him in a vegetative state for 14 years in a Polish asylum. In 1960, Blazkowicz awakens from his vegetative state as he is about to be executed, and joins the resistance against the Nazis who have conquered the whole world and who include his old nemesis Deathshead (Wilhelm Strasse).
Wolfenstein RPG is set in an alternate timeline, which is mostly light-hearted and humorous, and serves as prequel to the Doom series. At the end, B.J. defeats and maims the Harbinger of Doom, a Nazi-summoned demon that is none other than the later Cyberdemon from Doom. Blazkowicz's descendant is Sergeant Stan Blazkowicz, the protagonist of Doom RPG and one of the protagonists of Doom II RPG. B.J. Blazkowicz himself was also supposed to star in an early sequel Rise of the Triad: Wolfenstein 3D Part II, which was eventually released as just Rise of the Triad with no Wolfenstein plot connection at all.
In the 2005 German film Der Goldene Nazivampir von Absam 2 – Das Geheimnis von Schloß Kottlitz, William "B.J." Blazkowicz, portrayed by Daniel Krauss, tracks down Nazi scientists in secret laboratories located in the Austrian Alps in order to disclose the secret of "miracle weapons" involving Dracula's bones and to find that events occurring in the Kottlitz Castle are beyond imagination. In 2007, Samuel Hadida bought the rights to make a more direct adaptation of the game series and Roger Avary was given task to write and direct the project that was said to be the story of B.J. Blazkowicz's mission to Hitler's Wolf's Lair.
In May 2012, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wolfenstein 3-D, Bethesda Softworks released a free B.J. Xbox Live Avatar masks over on the series' Facebook page. Classic B.J. Blazkowicz Mask was made a purchasable item for Doom at Xbox Live Marketplace.
The character was well received. In 2008, IGN included B.J. Blazkowicz on the list of characters they would like to see in an ultimate fighting game, calling him "the soldier who fired the first shot in the first-person-shooter wars", as well as in an ultimate "zombie strike team" of the best zombie fighters in entertainment. IGN also listed him as first on a list of top commandos in video games, as "really, there's no greater victory for a commando than killing Hitler. Kudos, Blazkowicz." In 2012, GamesRadar ranked him as 93rd "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in video games, stating that "when you’ve single handedly defeat Mecha-Hitler, that pretty much makes you a hero in anybody’s book. B.J. has tirelessly slaughtered Nazis through three generations of hardware, and could be credited with kicking off the first-person shooter craze that led to games like Doom and Duke 3D."
In 2007, UGO.com included this "true American hero" on their list of the greatest soldiers in fantasy entertainment history, also featuring him on the list of the greatest Jews in gaming: "Being the Nazi-hating son of Polish immigrants does make B.J. a candidate, but his Judaism remains woefully unconfirmed. For all the Nazis he's chain-gunned through, B.J. deserves a framed honorary Jew certificate." The website Jew or Not Jew opined "he's probably just a Nazi-killing Pole." Kotaku's Stephen Totilo wrote that "the hints are" in The New Order that Blazkowicz is Jewish, such as his knowledge of written Hebrew. When Totilo contacted Bethesda Softworks, they told him it is "never explicitly stated" and the developer MachineGames decided to "leave it up to the player to interpret."
According to Spike's Jason Cipriano, "The New Order seems to be the first game that really gives the character some depth, and instead of just being another American, hell-bent on ending the Nazi regime Blazkowicz seems like he's a more multilayered character. B.J. has friends, a love interest, and a deeper reason to take down the Nazis: this time around he's not just trying to win a war - he's trying to save the world." Anthony John Agnello of The A.V. Club noted MachineGames strived "to render Blazkowicz as a whole human being—at least, as human as he can be when he’s killing literally thousands of people, robots, dogs, and robot dogs." GamesRadar's Ryan Taljonick opined "B.J. [has become] a pretty interesting character, and delivers several internal monologues with just the right amount of drama" while Brian Bloom's "fantastic voicework makes them believable." In his review of The New Order, Lee Cooper of Hardcore Gamer wrote that "where it succeeds beyond the basest point is in its execution of characters, particularly Blazkowicz himself, who offers no more depth than porta potty but somehow manages to shine as leading man" and "the grittiest, manliest, most absolute Nazi-killin’ machine."
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