What Do We Know About the Magic the Gathering Netflix Series?
Magic: the Gathering may have started its life as just a humble fantasy-based collectible card game, but it’s since expanded into a variety of different mediums. According to AmazingGameRoom.com, the popularity of the game comes down to a variety of complex factors that include the various ways that Wizards of the Coast has made the Magic Multiverse a part of the larger cultural conversation.
Rumors have persisted about a Magic: the Gathering TV show for years, but all of the failed plans seem to have finally coalesced in a deal at Netflix. And while sources have been somewhat quiet since the initial announcement, it’s also clear that there’s still something going on behind the scenes. The Magic: The Gathering Netflix series could be the game’s biggest flirtation with mainstream audiences, and there are plenty of reasons to believe it could succeed. Here’s everything you need to know.
What It Is
In June of 2019, the Russo Brothers announced that they would be executive producing an animated TV series based off of the Magic: The Gathering franchise. Beyond that, much of what the series will be about has been shrouded in mystery — but there are a few things we can infer based on what the producers and other creatives involved have said throughout the years. The Magic: The Gathering series will involve the creative and story teams at Wizards of the Coast along with Netflix’s creative development teams and an exciting pair of animation studios in the process.
What It’s Not
As if the lack of substantive information about the Netflix series wasn’t enough, there have also been confusing rumors that it’s not the only Netflix project based on Magic: the Gathering in production. The live-action movie is believed to be courting Angelina Jolie to play the role of Liliana Vess — and while that isn’t confirmed, a February 2021 investor call for Hasbro eOne did reveal that it is in production.
Why It’s Happening Now
This isn’t the first time that Magic: the Gathering was optioned for a television series, so it’s understandable for fans to feel pessimistic about the odds for success. But the new Magic: The Gathering series is happening during a boom in successful animation based off of gaming franchises. Netflix has already drawn from the world of video games with their critically and commercially successful series based off of Resident Evil and Castlevania, and they have plans to option a number of different Ubisoft franchises as well. In other words, video game animation is being seen as a legitimate revenue route — and Netflix in particular has seen success by sticking true to the spirit of the source material.
When It’s Coming
The series was originally announced for release in 2021, but production issues related to the pandemic have pushed back the release. It was announced at a February 2021 Hasbro eOne shareholders meeting that the Netflix Magic: the Gathering series is now scheduled for release in 2022. A specific date has yet to be set.
What It Won’t Be About
Solid information on the Netflix series is so rare that what we know it won’t be tells us as much as what we know it will be about. But there’s some surprisingly compelling information here. Responses from investors and creators have revealed that it won’t be taking place in the same continuity as either the series or the card game. MtG designer Mark Rosewater has also stated “We don’t want a movie or TV show with people from Earth traveling to Magic’s worlds.”
In other words, don’t expect to see a model that mimics the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stretches across multiple formats. While the Multiverse concept may allow these universes to exist in parallel to one another, there’s little hope that there will be canon crossover between them.
What It Will Be About
Octopie CEO Isaac Krauss framed the series as mature and oriented towards an adult audience, and there’s been a serious commitment among those involved to make sure fans know that they’re honoring the source materials. But some of the most interesting tidbits about what the series might look like come from Netflix’s head of story and development Nic Kelman.
Describing how the stories in the TV series might interact with the original lore, Kelman elaborated, “If somebody’s parents have died and that’s a crucial part of who their character is, that’s gonna be true no matter what medium that story takes place in, but the exact details of whether they were six or eight when that happened may shift.”
Combine this with the fact that popular Planeswalker Chandra was featured prominently in the announcement art, and we can generally look forward to a series that feels familiar to fans. Of course, “familiar” is a very ambiguous world, and the size and scope of the Multiverse is immense. That’s something that the creators get, because the sense of scale sounds potentially enormous. In an interview with Polygon, MtG franchise director Jeremy Jarvis said ““One of the most important things we did is whenever we would meet with a new person we would lead with, ‘Here’s who we are today, [Magic] is very character-centric, and we talked about some of the places that we believe would be best brought to life by animation, about the characters we believe that would be best served by animation. Because there is the potential that when someone says, ‘Yeah, I’m an enormous Magic fan,’ that they’re kind of frozen in 1998 or 1993 or whenever they entered the game, which is not where we are now and certainly not where we’re moving towards.”
What It Will Look Like
Canadian studio Bardel Entertainment is in charge of animation — and while you may know them from their work on Rick and Morty or Teen Titans, Go!, the best point of reference is probably the Dragon Prince. With its fantasy setting focused around the fundamentals elements, the popular Netflix fantasy series is both a Bardel production and reliably similar to the tone of Magic: the Gathering.