With the success of ‘Games of Thrones’, it’s no wonder that Hollywood decided to take a look at George R. R. Martin’s repertoire of works for feature film ideas. So it’s no surprise to hear that Martin has sold ‘Wild Cards’ to SyFy Films, a joint company between the SyFy Channel and Universal Studios.
‘Wild Cards’ is one of the most successful and longest running, science-fiction book series. Its characters were developed with the goal of creating a realistic take on people with super powers and how it affected their daily lives. The anthology debuted in 1987 and was co-created, co-written and edited by Martin. Currently 21 books have been published in the series.
Martin describes the basic premise of the series as
“Wild Cards” is a shared world anthology series, set in a universe where an alien experiment unleashed a deadly virus on the human race in 1946. The virus kills nine of every ten victims, and twists and deforms most of those who survive (the jokers)… but one in every hundred gets lucky, and is gifted with the proverbial ‘powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men’ (the aces). Superpowers, in other words. “
What makes this anthology unique is that the series was conceived as a shared universe in which different authors contributed new characters and storylines to the overall mythos. Within each book, an author is responsible for certain chapters but making sure their stories are interwoven with one another. Writers such as Roger Zelazny (‘Damnation Alley’, ‘The Chronicles of Amber’), Walter Jon Williams (‘Hardwired’, ‘Dread Empire’s Fall’ series), Cherie Priest (‘Ganymede’, ‘Boneshaker’), TV writer Paul Cornell (‘Doctor Who’, ‘Primeval’), Lewis Shiner (‘Glimpses’, ‘Black and White’) and David Anthony Durham (‘Arcacia’).
Melinda Snodgrass, who co-created and writes for ‘Wild Cards’, has been hired to write the screenplay for the project. Martin and Snodgrass will executive produce as well. With 25 years of history, one of the biggest obstacles that will need to be overcome is the immense narrations of the ‘Wild Cards’ universe. What makes the series unique was the way the characters evolved as time went on.
“(‘Wild Cards’) … is really the only universe where you have fully realized, fully integrated characters that have been built and developed over the course of 25 years,” says Gregory Noveck, Syfy Films’ senior VP of Production and who targeted the books for acquisition. “The trick for us is to find what’s the best movie.”
Martin has not disclosed anything about which stories or characters will be featured in Snodgrass’ screenplay but does feel that the film should be taken out of the 1940’s setting from the books and placed into a more contemporary time. He did reveal, however, that The Sleeper (which is one of the first people who became an ace and has the power of changing his face and superpower ability after a deep hibernation like sleep) would be seen in the film. If the movie does well, SyFy films hopes to develop this project into an ongoing franchise.
‘Wild Cards’ can easily be made into a franchise film series but one of the apprehensions that can be made is that SyFy Films was formed to make modest budgeted feature films, so don’t expect too much CGI or special effects. However, there have been several successful movies (such as ‘Source Code’ and ‘District 9’) that have been filmed on a modest budget so it can be done.
Have you read any of the ‘Wild Cards’ novels? What do you think of the news and which Aces and Jokers would you like to see in the film?