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Everything you need to know about Jack Ryan before the show premieres – ANITH
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Everything you need to know about Jack Ryan before the show premieres

Everything you need to know about Jack Ryan before the show premieres

It’s been 34 years since Jack Ryan first emerged from the pages of Tom Clancy’s classic novel, and now he’s officially back.

Yep, the famous character created by the best-selling author first made his appearance all the way back in the novel, The Hunt For Red October, in 1984. 

Since then, he’s gone on to appear in more than 21 books, four movies, a handful of video games and now he’s set to make his mark on the small screen with the help of Amazon Prime Video’s new series, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Eager to make more sense of his character’s ongoing legacy and timeline? You’re not the only one. We’ve broken it down to help you become the ultimate Jack Ryan aficionado.

Image: AmAZON Prime video

Paper trail 

The character of Jack Ryan has been featured in so many books you’d truly have to be a die-hard fan to read them all, so if you’re looking to go straight to the more popular Clancy titles, there’s a handful of page turners we can recommend.

Patriot Games was released in 1987, Clear and Present Danger came out in 1989, The Sum of All Fears followed a year later, and Red Rabbit plus Commander in Chief helped keep the book legacy alive throughout the 00s and beyond. 

While Tom Clancy passed away in 2013, his latest books have been penned by author Mark Greaney, who has been successfully publishing new Jack Ryan Jr novels since Clancy’s death.

Lights, camera, action 

Before John Krasinski became the new face of Jack Ryan, the action-packed role was played by a number of Hollywood heavyweights. 

The first film in the series, The Hunt For Red October, was released in 1990 and starred a young Alec Baldwin as the leading man. Set in 1984, the film followed the story of the Soviet Union’s top submarine captain who breaches protocol by making a move for America – leaving audiences to wonder whether he’s defecting or preparing to wage an all-out war on the US. 

Poor ol’ Jack, he’s always off saving the world. Doesn’t he ever get a break? 

Two years later, Harrison Ford stepped into the lead role in Patriot Games. The action-packed thriller followed Jack Ryan and his family as they’re targeted by an angry revenge-seeking faction following Jack’s interference in an I.R.A. assassination. This wasn’t the only time Ford played the role of Jack. 

In the 1994 film, Clear and Present Danger, Ford played Ryan again – this time as the character is dragged into an illegal war waging between the US government and a Columbian drug ring. 

In 2002, Ben Affleck took the helm in the Sum of All Fears. Here he fought against a group of Neo Nazis threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon and start an all-out war between the USA and Russia. Poor ol’ Jack, he’s always off saving the world. Doesn’t he ever get a break?  

Apparently not, because in 2014, his famous character was back in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. With Chris Pine in the leading role, this film centred around Jack uncovering a plot by the Russians to destroy the U.S economy with a major terrorist attack. 

While it’s worth noting these movies were all released at different times within the last three decades, it’s important to remember they’re not all necessarily chronological. Yep. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – the latest film in the series is set years and years ago when Jack is at the beginning of his CIA career – a prequel if you will. 

What’s more, while the books were released in the order of Patriot Games first and then The Hunt for Red October – in the movie universe – this has been actually switched around. 

Somewhere over the rainbow

Sure, there’s been a lot of books and films in the Jack Ryan universe, but there’s also been a fair amount of video games throughout the franchise. 

Some of these games are based on the movies while some are based on the novels. This includes the gaming version of The Hunt for Red October (1987 and 1990) and The Sum of All Fears (2002). The most notable games in the list however have come from Clancy’s Rainbow Six venture.

Never heard of Rainbow Six before? This was a franchise created by Clancy, which centred around a fictional counterterrorist unit codenamed, “Rainbow.”

These books focused less on Jack Ryan and more on the characters of John Clark and Ding Chavez, but the books were quickly adapted into a first-person shooter video game that is uber popular throughout the world. 

Small screen hero

It’s hard to believe there hasn’t been a small-screen adaptation of Jack Ryan until now, but with John Krasinski in the lead role and Michael Bay as one of a few high-profile executive producers, there’s no doubt this new show will be a must-watch. 

It’s the first time Krasinski has taken the lead in a television series format — well, outside The Office, but that was Steve Carell’s stage — and with Jack Ryan, playing Clancy’s beloved CIA character is quite removed from the doe-eyed Dunder Mifflin salesman we know and love.

Image: Amazon prime video 

During the series (which has already been commissioned for a second season), you’ll meet Ryan in the early stages of his CIA career. After uncovering a major terrorist plot targeting the U.S., Ryan finds himself abruptly moved from his desk job into an action-packed position in the field.

Interested? Mark your calendars for Aug. 31 when the new series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan drops on the streaming service, Amazon Prime Video

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Anith Gopal
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