We as a community got some extremely exciting news this week; Magic: the Gathering is being adapted into an animated series on Netflix. This is the first time Magic will be adapted to film, though there was a lot of talk back in 2014 about producing a feature length film. These talks never really took off despite having solid hands behind the project, including Bryan Cogman, a writer and producer for Game of Thrones. It is a disservice however to say that what we currently know of the Netflix project is anything less than exciting.
I want to talk about the people behind the project. We only have a few names as to who is on board, but they are big ones. First off, Anthony and Joseph Russo will be executive producers for the project. For those who don’t recognize the Russo brothers, they directed a few lesser known films that I am a huge fan of, including The Winter Soldier, Infinity War and Endgame. For those who have seen these movies, their work truly speaks for itself. The real reason I’m excited for this project however, is the lead writers Henry Gilroy and Jose Molina. Gilroy is most well known for his work as co-writer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Whether you are a fan of this series or not, you can’t argue about the masterful writing it has. Between keeping the characters engaging and relatable while driving the plot with outstanding pacing while simultaneously creating good villains, The Clone Wars is akin to The Last Airbender in terms of being weirdly good considering the target audience.
The writing powers of Gilroy coupled with the visionary capabilities of the Russo brothers is enough to get me onboard with the show, regardless of where and when the story takes place in the multiverse. But where will the story be taking us?
We don’t know too much yet, being given only vague hints at what’s to come. From what we’ve heard, it sounds like the series will be mostly character driven, following currently existing characters as well as new introductions. As for timelines, we’re really unsure. Following current characters could mean anything from the Brothers War to immediately after War of the Spark. I am very relieved to hear that they aren’t writing purely new characters, as the majority of the player base has a strong connection to one character or another. Writing the first ever Magic: the Gathering series that excludes all of the current cast would not result in a catastrophic failure, but would cause for a loss of interest in a good portion of the player base.
What of the animation? How will the show look? We know that it will be an anime with the animation for it done by Bardel Entertainment, the studio that animated Teen Titans Go, The Dragon Prince, Rick and Morty, and a plethora of other well-known animated series and movies. Now, I personally am not a fan of anime. It’s not necessarily the art style, but rather the tropes that come tagged along with it most of the time. Anime (in my experience) tend to have fragile female leads and male leads with white knight syndrome. Repetitive and uninteresting characters coupled with excessive amounts of filler quickly kill any intrigue I may have had for an anime, and let’s not even discuss the fan service. But I digress.
I’m not saying that this is a problem with ALL anime, just something I’ve noticed after living with my girlfriend, who has what some would call an obsession for the style. Considering the writers behind the project however, I don’t see this as being an issue with the Magic: the Gathering series. I would almost instantly fall in love if the series had a similar animation style as The Dragon Prince, which has absolutely stunning visuals.
That’s the basis for what we know, but what’s keeping me on edge is just what are they going to cover in this series? There’s no question, the multiverse has literal infinite possibilities in terms of settings and characters and time frames, how could they pick a starting point?
If it were me on that writing team, I would structure the series with each season covering a different piece of Magic timeline, starting with Urza.
Urza I feel is a character that not many people who have recently begun playing really understand. He was a planeswalker… And was strong… And he gave Karn his spark! And then he died… But then his head was alive?
I don’t mean to say that Urza’s character arc is overly complex or simplistic, but rather untold to the latest generation of Magic players. Considering just how impactful his character is on the overarching story of Magic, with his actions effectively causing the War of the Spark, I feel it would do justice and pay homage to be able to tell his story on such an effective platform for not only current and past players of the game, but also to audiences who have never even opened a booster pack.
That’s all for today, let me know next time you’re in the shop what you would like to see brought to the screen in terms of settings and characters! There’s a lot to explore and there’s a lot of room for error and success, all we have is the comfort of a solid team behind a billion dollar franchise on a billion dollar platform. I trust this series will not disappoint.