Right up front, let me inform you that I am not part of the sprawling fandom devoted to the card, tabletop and digital Magic: The Gathering games. For those of you who are, you will be pleased to know that the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the games will be directed by devout fans – none other than Joe and Anthony Russo. Maybe their names aren’t familiar to you? They’ve directed a couple of films – Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame. Nothing too big.
Turns out the Russo Brothers aren’t just Marvel fans, though: apparently, they’ve been playing the game for “as long as it has been around” – in other words, since 1993. And since pretty much anything that the Russos touch turns to pure cinematic gold – and box-office gold, too – that’s enough to pique my interest in this show. The adaptation will be an animated series, and will be produced in collaboration with game-makers Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro. Never having played the game in question, I really can’t say for certain what I expect to see in the series (um, magic, I’m guessing?), but I bet it’s a pretty great game, if it comes from Wizards of the Coast – who also created one of my own personal favorite tabletop games, Axis & Allies.
If the idea of “animation” conjures up disturbing visions of two-dimensional cartoons, rest assured that the show will combine cutting-edge animation techniques with multi-genre storytelling including suspense, horror and drama. Sounds pretty good, right? The drawbacks, of course, are obvious: Magic: The Gathering is a game, and game adaptations aren’t exactly notable for being faithful to the source-material, or even very entertaining on their own merits. And this one is more convoluted and complex than most: there’s a huge cast of characters (sorry, “Planeswalkers”) involved in the Magic: The Gathering game franchise, and an inordinately large number of fantasy worlds and dimensions to bring to the screen. But if anybody can do this, it’s the Russo Brothers, who were able to satisfy both long-time Marvel comic fans as well as general audiences during their four-film tenure in the MCU – and, as previously noted, they’ve raked in a lot of cash with just those four films.
Avengers: Endgame is still in theaters if you want to get a taste of what a Magic: The Gathering adaptation might look like in the Russo Brothers’ hands.