The day before yesterday, I made loud yelling noises at my computer screen because a thing happened. A particular thing. This thing: it turns out that Fox has tapped (pun intended) writer Simon Kinberg to produce a series of films based on the Magic: the Gathering trading card game. Now, if you don’t know Simon Kinberg, you should; he’s written or produced for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and other such films. Returning to loud yelling noises, Fox wants to make a “series of films,” creating a Magic: The Gathering cinematic universe.
Kinberg will be working closely with executives at Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro as he begins development. Execs are reportedly looking to “launch a massive franchise on the scale of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings.” Those are pretty big shoes to fill, especially considering the performance of previous WOTC ventures. Dungeons & Dragons was a singular kind of awful, from the acting, to the special effects, to the plot. So let’s hope that the MTG film can improve significantly upon that.
Now, the film could be a disaster. But I’m much more interested in the film’s potential to be spectacular, or at least meaningful. CGI and make-up technology has come a long way since Dungeons & Dragons, but The Last Airbender is an object lesson in how that does not a great film make. Magic: The Gathering is set in a world (many worlds, really) of swords and sorcery, with elves, dragons, angels, zombies, enchanted automatons and other mystical entities. Certainly, they will need effects technology to bring these creatures and their powers to the screen in convincing ways (if it’s not animated), but the true potential of an MTG cinematic universe is in the diversity of stories that can be told. Continue reading