04 June 2019
Animation is first adaptation in card game's 26-year history
The directors behind the Avengers movies Infinity War and Endgame are working on an animated adaptation of Magic: The Gathering for Netflix.
Joe and Anthony Russo will serve as executive producers on the upcoming Magic: The Gathering series, marking the first time that Richard Garfield’s collectible card game has been brought to the screen in its 26-year history.
The animated series will follow a brand new storyline that will give more of a background to the game’s planeswalkers, the magic-wielding characters that make up the majority of its protagonists and baddies. The first teaser image for the show features Chandra Nalaar, a fire-commanding planeswalker and member of the heroic group Gatewatch.
The Russos will oversee the creation of the narrative, joined by Star Wars Rebels and Agent Carter writers Henry Gilroy and Jose Molina, who will write and co-executive produce the series as showrunners.
“We have been huge fans and players of Magic: The Gathering for as long as it has been around, so being able to help bring these stories to life through animation is a true passion project for us,” the Russos said as part of the announcement.
On the tabletop, the card game’s War of the Spark set recently brought to a close the year-long Bolas arc, culminating in a showdown between dozens of major characters, including the members of Gatewatch – the expansion boasted 36 planeswalkers, including one in every booster pack, many more than ever before. The set happened to be released the same week that the Russos’ Avengers: Endgame hit cinemas, with many fans drawing comparisons between the two epic finales in their respective franchises.
The Magic: The Gathering series will be animated by Bardel Entertainment, which has previously worked on Rick and Morty, Teen Titans Go!, Netflix’s The Dragon Prince and various other DreamWorks, Adult Swim and Nickelodeon cartoons.
According to Isaac Krauss, executive producer on the series and CEO of Octopie, the studio taking charge of production on the show, the Magic: The Gathering series will “cross the genres of suspenseful thriller, horror and drama with deeply developed characters the likes of which are not often seen in animation”.
“Our goal is to not only tell a compelling story leveraging Magic: The Gathering’s incredible body of work, but to also push the medium and perception of storytelling through animation,” Krauss added.
The Netflix series is the first Magic: The Gathering adaptation to make it onto screens, but it might not be the last; a Magic: The Gathering feature film has been in the works since at least 2014, with Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman said to be penning the script for that project.
Netflix’s Magic: The Gathering animation is yet to be given a release date, but follows in the wake of a number of spin-offs to land on the streaming platform, including an animated series based on video game Castlevania.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Joe and Anthony Russo to bring Magic: The Gathering’s rich and diverse cast of characters and worlds to Netflix in a way that will delight our many fans and those new to the franchise,” said Wizards of the Coast president Chris Cocks.