We all know that in October 2018, Netflix announced that they had purchased the rights to C.S. Lewis’s seminal fantasy work, The Chronicles of Narnia. Along with this announcement, it was revealed that they were working on a Narnia Universe, consisting of multiple movies and a TV show.
There are seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia series: The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle. It is widely considered one of the all-time classics of fantasy literature, a series that has inspired generations. The series appeals to readers of all ages and provides a stellar entry point into the fantasy genre for children. The series follows the adventures of several children who find themselves on epic adventures in the land of Narnia, which is populated with all manner of fantasy creatures. Some of these children only appear in one book, while others recur.
We remain clueless about where the projects are going but we know that Mark Gordon and Vincent Sieber will act as executive producers. The two previously worked in the same role on the Narnia movies released between 2005 and 2010.
Netflix confirmed on Twitter in June of 2019 that Matthew Aldrich, known for his screenwriting work on Coco (2017), will serve as the creative architect of the Narnia Universe. In Netflix’s words, he will “oversee the development of all films and shows adapted from C.S. Lewis's beloved Narnia universe.” What Kevin Feige is to Marvel, what Scott M. Gimple is to The Walking Dead Universe, Matthew Aldrich is to Narnia.
Other than that, we’ve pretty much been left in the dark. There’s a demand for more Narnian adventures. In 2005, Disney released The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was a hit that spawned two sequels: Prince Caspian (2008) and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, released by Fox in 2010. The movies have taken in close to $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office. That’s not something to be sniffed at!
In January 2021, Scott Stuber who heads Netflix’s film division told the New York Times that Narnia was among the projects predicted to release “beyond 2021” meaning that although we might hear of projects this year, we’re not expecting the release of any.
Netflix France is one of the few Twitter accounts which acknowledged that the Narnia series and films are still in the works (pre-development), with the last interaction being on March 14th, 2021.
Where will The Chronicles of Narnia on Netflix start from?
The Lion, Witch, and The Wardrobe is the natural starting point for Narnia but The Magician’s Nephew book serves as the prequel which fleshes out the realm of Narnia and may make a more logical start for Netflix to kickstart the universe with.
This would mean Netflix would adapt the books in the so-called “Harper Collins” order which would be the following:
• The Magician’s Nephew
• The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
• The Horse and His Boy
• Prince Caspian
• The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
• The Silver Chair
• The Last Battle.
Although the story of the Pevensie children begins with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lewis wrote an origin story for his famous fantasy land with The Magician's Nephew. It's certainly a bit stranger compared to the rest of the series but serves as Narnia's Genesis with imaginative parallels to the biblical creation story and the introduction of sin. It's time for this entry to get its high-fantasy adaptation.
Narnia works so well because it's simple. While it does check most fantasy boxes, it does openly and knowingly. It has its castles, dragons, and epic battles, but it still feels like its own rendition. The last thing the land of Narnia needs is a dark and realistic adaptation with over-the-top fight sequences and heavily saturated CGI. It should be visually impressive and narratively engaging, but it shouldn't beg for the viewer's participation.
Where Tolkien pulled from Norse mythology with his orcs, elves, and hobbits, C.S. Lewis took inspiration from the realms of classic mythology with fauns, dryads, naiads, and minotaurs. This is a flavor not often seen in modern fantasy media, and the new Narnia series should go full force with it. Have Aslan's army sporting Greek-inspired armor, make Mr. Tumnus more goat than man a la Pan's Labyrinth, whatever the decision, they should commit to it and go full force.
If there's one thing the series needs to do, it's to maintain C.S. Lewis's faith-based allegory. The parallels between the Narnia books and the Christian teachings have always been what made it stand out, thanks to Lewis's apologetic philosophy. It's essentially the backbone of the series and if Netflix wants to do it justice, it shouldn't be afraid to stick to the Scriptures.
Narnia needs to be not remade but rather renewed and reimagined. Fans of the books are already familiar with the Disney series and maybe even the BBC adaptation, but this new series needs to be a brand new world featuring familiar friends. Give viewers a majestic realm of fauns and talking lions, but breathe new life into them as well.
The biggest mistake Netflix can make is to try to make the series too much of a dark medieval drama. Yes, the series did have its dark chapters and bloody battles, but in the end, it was met with a happy ending where good triumphs over evil. It's not like other modern fantasy shows that need a dark edge for some reason. The genre could certainly use a little light in the snowstorm.
Netflix could take a darker approach to the source material than the previous adaptations. Just in case there was any doubt, it’s also highly likely that Netflix will completely reboot the universe and not bring back previous stars. Actress Georgie Henley, who played Lucy Pevensie in the 00s films, said this April that she would be open to reprising her role but doesn’t think it’s going to happen.
Netflix has not determined a release date for their upcoming Chronicles of Narnia content. But, with seven books in the series, there’s a lot of material to cover, which could explain why the series is taking some time to develop. We’ll keep you updated if Netflix announces a release date.
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