With George R. R. Martin's "Game Of Thrones" now a smash hit for HBO it's no surprise that Hollywood is now mobilizing to duplicate that success with his other works.
And thus, Syfy Films -- a pairing between Syfy Channel and Universal -- will tackle "Wild Cards," a superhero anthology edited, co-created and co-written by Martin. But this ain't no DC or Marvel shit. It's a sprawling series set in an alternate history post-World War II world where an airborne alien virus changes the DNA of almost everyone on the planet, killing many, and leaving the rest as either superheroes (of sorts) with special abilities or with mutations and deformities or somewhere in between. Unlike other comic heroes, the folks in "Wild Cards" don't set out to fight crime or have secret identities. Rather, they live in the regular world and age like normal humans and die (several characters die off in the books) while some find celebrity with their newfound powers. Since its in an alternate history, the various writers have had fun toying with pop culture. Mick Jagger is a werewolf in "Wild Cards," the Brooklyn Dodgers are still in Brooklyn, Buddy Holly lives but falls into a sad career playing covers of Prince and Billy Idol before his powers help bring back his career -- and all sorts of very creative stuff that you read about on the Wikipedia page. All in all it's both more naturalistic and grittier than say, "Green Lantern" and with a wide berth of source material to play with -- over twelve volumes -- it's easy to see the franchise potential.
And to do it right, Melinda Snodgrass, one of the co-creators and co-writers will write the screenplay for "Wild Cards" so fans rest assured, it's in good hands (Martin is also one of the producers on this, along with Snodgrass). "We hope this is the first of a long presence in film and perhaps even television down the line," Martin ambitiously said. And while there is plenty of story to explore in the series that has numerous writers take it on, with characters interacting with each other from all era/incarnations, we'll see about whether it becomes a massive franchise.
This division of Universal is for modestly budgeted pictures so don't expect anybody to throw $100 million at this. It will be a tricky brew of getting the right talent -- both in front of and behind the camera, particularly for effects -- at the right price. But the producers are looking at "District 9," "Source Code" and "Children Of Men" as examples of genre fare that was made on budget but still delivered the goods. But certainly, it's promising source material and everyone seems to be talking the talk, but as "Watchmen" proved, even the most well intentioned and faithful adaptations can go horribly wrong. [THR]