The directors of Avengers: Endgame are adapting Magic: The Gathering for Netflix

Netflix

You’ll want to put down your cards, Planeswalkers.

After directing the hyper-successful, Infinity-Saga-ending Avengers: Endgame, directors Anthony and Joe Russo have a new project: adapting the 26-year-old collectible card game Magic: The Gathering for the small screen.

Netflix announced Monday that the Russos would team with Wizards of The Coast and Hasbro for an animated series based on the mythology of the fantasy game. The Russos will “oversee the creation of an all new storyline and expand on the stories of the Planeswalkers” (sorry, Urza’s saga hopefuls) and will see the heroes and villains of the universe “contend with stakes larger than any one world can hold.”

“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 in a joint statement.

The Russos are set to executive produce the series, with writers Henry Gilroy (Star Wars Rebels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Jose Molina (The Tick, Jordan Peele’s Weird City) serving as showrunners. Yoriaki Mochizuki (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) is on board as supervising director and co-executive producer.

Bardel Entertainment (Rick and Morty, Teen Titans Go!, and Netflix’s The Dragon Prince) is set to run point on the show’s animation. Octopie Network (Neo Fighter Dream Crisis) will oversee production on the series, with Todd Makurath (How to Be a Serial Killer), Eric Calderon (Afro Samurai), and Dave Newberg (Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio) serving as producers, and Mike Larocca (Deadly Class) and Octopie CEO Isaac Krauss serving as executive producers.

“Working with Joe and Anthony, Wizards of the Coast, and Netflix on such a universally cherished brand is a real highlight for our studio.” said Krauss in a statement. “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. This 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.”

Netflix’s official promo artwork for the series
Netflix

The Magic: The Gathering series joins a growing roster of adult-themed animation at Netflix, with traditional anime like Devilman Crybaby, Aggretsuko, and Ultraman living alongside Castlevania and the upcoming Pacific Rim and Altered Carbon series.

For Wizards of the Coast, the announcement is a coup for a property long trapped in Hollywood development cycles — most recently, in 2014, Fox hired Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman to write a feature adaptation of the game — and now fostered by one of the leading media companies on the planet.

“More fans are enjoying Magic now than at any time in its 25-year history thanks to the enduring popularity of the tabletop game and our latest release War of the Spark,” said Chris Cocks, president of Wizards of the Coast, in a press release. “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.”

Comments

I think this will be great, but I’m rolling my eyes at the "It’s animation, but this time, with mature themes!" stuff. A lot of animation contains complex characters, deep drama, and mature ideas. It feels like the Russo brothers feel like they’re inventing mature animation and that’s a recipe for lackluster work.

Especially given that it’s on Netflix, which has already done exactly that a dozen times over. Hell, the Castlevania series has a vampire that likes to make boats out of people.

I think it’s still fair to say that outside of anime/anime-inspired work, it’s pretty damm rare to see an animated adult drama.

There are some key examples, if we’re just taking "animation that deals with mature themes," then Bojack springs to mind. It’s comedy first but has serious dramatic beats.

Aside from that though, the problem is that anime and anime-inspired work is only becoming more common. I would venture that most people who are going to be interested in a MtG animated show probably have at least a passing familiarity with what’s available in anime, and so is probably not thinking "Wait, it’s serious, but also, it’s animated?! Never seen that before!"

Anime is certainly becoming more popular but I’d still say it’s quite niche in the US. It’s not like any adult-oriented anime are household names here.

As someone who generally loves animation but dislikes anime, I’m excited to hear someone in the west doing serious, adult animation because it’s so rare. I can hardly think of any examples at all.

Not that it really matters, but isn’t Magic just a container term to sell cards? Is there even a story there? This feels like making a Hot Wheels animation, not really something I care about just because there’s a brand attached.

The Russos have made some great stuff with the MCU, End-game did dent that image for me a bit, it was average at best.

Is there even a story there?

Yes, since the beginning.

Ah cool, so basically it’s like Forgotten Realms/Dragonlance with books/games. Tnx

I devoured all the DL books a long time ago, really liked those.

I think that the MtG universe has one of the best lore out there. Every characters has a backstory and they are all intertwine with eachother. You should look it up, it is really interesting!

I’ve always been at best peripherally aware that the people on the cards have names and some kind of background but with a gun to my head I couldn’t explain a single one of them. If you have to go read a novel to understand anything about the characters in the game, they’re not really characters.

That kind of applies to Overwatch and League of Legends come to think of it. Honestly they’re just a bunch of avatars unless you religiously follow all the "trailer media" they release.

Your clickage may vary of course, some people have no problem going to the extended media to enjoy the games they like. For my part, I just like playing the card game.

Okay, but like… it’s a card game. The amount of characterization they can convey through CARDS is pretty limited, just by virtue of the format they’re using. So they put the complex characterization in web fiction.

You may not know much about them, and that’s fine! You don’t need to to enjoy the game. They make sure that the lore is optional. But to me, somebody who’s read every story since Magic Origins, hearing somebody accuse a group of actually really fleshed out characters of "not being characters" just comes across as… really weird? And also the settings are elaborated ON the cards EXTENSIVELY, most sets are named after the place they take place and you can get a lot of worldbuilding out of the cards without ever reading any fiction.

Just because you don’t pay the same attention to the details as others doesn’t mean that those details aren’t there?

Really? You can’t glean a single thing about what type of character Chandra Nalaar is from this? https://scryfall.com/search?as=grid&order=name&q=lore%3AChandra

There’s some absolute gold here.

Spontaneous combustion is a myth. If you burst into flame, someone wanted you to.
"Utterly" is my favorite way to destroy something.
After the fourth time Chandra left a place engulfed in flames, she just decided to go ahead and make it her thing.

MTG applies lore and history much like the producers of Dark Souls. You have an overarching story, but the deeper lore is distributed among the bits and pieces throughout the game (cards).

It’s interesting to see how people have deducted history by comparing the lore and quotes on each card.

It’s not even as hard to parse out as Dark Souls. The cards do include many bits and pieces, but there are also regular novels and short stories telling those stories in a traditional format.

Oh. This was the same link as qedashin’s above. Just less subtle.

Tap middle school-age self for hypeblast aimed at future. Future self defends with the Golem of Realistic Expectations.

I hope at least one of the planeswalkers is from a world where harnessing that plane type walking magic involves actually "playing" enchanted cards to the field.

That’s really exciting news. I followed Magic’s story for years even when I wasn’t playing the game. Now I’m hooked on MTG Arena and still enjoying the lore. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Even beyond the Russos, that’s some great talent behind the scenes for this. Pretty excited to see how it turns out! For those willing to look past the function of the cards for their flavor, MTG has always had a rich world steeped in interesting lore and characters.

Didn’t South Park already do a masterful animated Magic the Gathering adaptation?

Have never been into Magic the Gathering. Purely stoked for more fantasy animation!

Will it be as long and boring as Endgame was?

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