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Russo Brothers Adapting Magic: The Gathering Into Netflix Animated Series

From Marvel to Magic

Avengers: Endgame co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo are adapting the massively popular tabletop trading-card game Magic: The Gathering into an original animated series for Netflix. 

Deadline broke the news on Monday, further detailing that the Russos will serve as executive producers on the series, which will carry the same title as the game it adapts. The sibling filmmakers — who also directed Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Captain America: Civil War for Marvel Studios — have partnered with toy-making company Hasbro and its subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, which publishes Magic: The Gathering as well as Dungeons & Dragons, for the series. Star Wars Rebels' Henry Gilroy and The Tick's Jose Molina serve as writers and showrunners on Magic: The Gathering, with Octopie Network and Bardel Studio providing animation. 

The Russo brothers will oversee an "all new storyline" and "expand on the stories" that Magic: The Gathering fans know and love: those of the magical heroes known as the Planeswalkers and the dangerous villains who threaten their world. 

Octopie CEO Isaac Strauss teased that the project might just blow everyone's socks off: "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."

Added Wizards of the Coast president and CEO Chris Cocks, "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, as well as the incredible success of our new digital game, Magic: The Gathering Arena. 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."

Despite Netflix staying quiet vis-à-vis what Russo and co. have cooking up for their iteration of Magic, Krauss' mention that the show will feature elements of the horror genre have us thinking that one of the show's focuses could be on Innistrad — the top-down expansion block of Magic: The Gathering that's based on Gothic horror. (The three sets included InnistradDark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored.) In any case, fans of Magic can probably expect to see favorites like Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, and Gideon Jura appear on the show. 

Magic: The Gathering is yet another hot property that Netflix has taken a liking to — picking up on its popularity, the vastness of its universe, and the endless possibilities for stories and character arcs for a fresh take — and joins a collection of animated series the streamer has in the pipeline. From Netflix's perspective, green-lighting a Magic: The Gathering series was a no-brainer. Having Joe and Anthony Russo, who have already established a worldwide audience with their directorial work at Marvel, just made the deal that much sweeter.

Netflix head of anime programming John Derderian put it best: "Magic is a beloved global franchise with a massively engaged fan base that has only continued to grow over the last 25 years. There's no one better suited to bring this story to audiences around the world than Joe and Anthony Russo, whose talent for genre storytelling is unmatched, as is demonstrated by their central role in creating some of the biggest box office hits of all time."

And it isn't just that the Russos are powerhouse talents who can bring in the beaucoup bucks with each new project they create — they're also longtime Magic: The Gathering fans. The two said in a joint statement accompanying the news, "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." 

To the Russo brothers, adapting Magic: The Gathering isn't just a golden business opportunity. It's a chance for them to pour their hearts into a project that they're genuinely passionate about — as well as to spread their wings with a series that sounds like it will break barriers and subvert expectations about what game-to-screen adaptations should be. Let's just hope the animated Magic is as magical as the original.

Netflix hasn't set a premiere date for Magic: The Gathering. Check back with Looper for future updates as more information becomes available.