‘The Wheel of Time’, ‘The Last of Us’, ‘The Sandman’: The Battle of the Adaptations is Heating Up

Netflix, Amazon, and HBO each have a major reimagining of a fan-favorite in the works. But whose will be the next smash hit?

Entertainment
7,424 Hypes 1 Comments

In many ways, adapting a beloved franchise for television is a thankless task. You’re often working with an unwieldy source material (be that a comic book, video game, or novel) that doesn’t easily translate into the episodic structure of TV. Plus, you’ve got to grapple with the high expectations of the fans — and their unmitigated fury if you mess it up. And it’s hardly a guaranteed win: for every Walking Dead, Watchmen, or Game of Thrones, there’s those that fizzle or flop, like Shadow and Bone, The Alienist, or, indeed, the much-hated final series of Thrones.

Despite that, three of the giants of the streaming industry — Netflix, HBO, and Amazon — are betting on a trio of new re-workings of beloved franchises. Next month, Amazon launches The Wheel of Time, a sprawling, high-fantasy epic based on a series of novels by Robert Jordan (and clearly being positioned as its own answer to GoT). HBO, meanwhile, is currently filming its adaptation of The Last of Us, the 2013 video game which has since become one of the most critically-adored titles of all time (and whose sequel became one of the most critically divisive).

After that will come the release of The Sandman, Netflix’s long-awaited retelling of the graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman, which was first published in 1989. Though the first trailer and promotional shots for the series have already surfaced, Gaimain himself has confirmed that the release date won’t be this side of Christmas.

Though the three differ wildly in genre and style — between Tolkien-esque saga, post-apocalyptic survival tale, and noirish thriller — they are united in their aim to capture an existing, captive audience, to grab the attention of an increasingly oversaturated market.

For every successful adaptation, there’s one that fizzles and flops

But they’ve already encountered the challenges of taking on such beloved works, too: not least in transforming a group of characters that largely exist in the imaginations of their fans into real-life people. Over the past few weeks, Gaiman has regularly taken to Twitter to defend Sandman’s casting, after a small but vocal minority of commenters attacked the decision to update the appearance of several characters with more diverse actors (including Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death and Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer). It’s a wearily recurrent complaint from some corners of franchise fandoms: that any attempt to broaden or adapt the casting is somehow a betrayal of the original work.

The Last of Us has tried to pre-empt similar complaints: its series co-creator, Craig Mazin, has already reassured fans that the show won’t veer far from its source material, stressing that any narrative changes will “fill things out and expand, not to undo, but rather to enhance.” Nevertheless, it has already experienced some controversy, after some fans criticized the casting of Bella Ramsey as Ellie, one of the story’s protagonists, for apparently not looking enough like the (fictional, computer-generated) original character.

And The Wheel of Time has faced challenges of its own — as GQ reported earlier this week, its producers soon learned the logistical difficulties involved in creating a fully-fledged fantasy world that can compete with the likes of GoT. The first two seasons of the show have taken two years and millions of dollars to film — without any guarantee, thus far, that the show will find a significant audience.

Wheel of Time The Last of Us Sandman release date trailer

A promotional poster for Amazon’s ‘The Wheel of Time’.Amazon

As for which show is likely to triumph? It’s too early to call with any certainty — but Sandman seems, at this stage, to offer the most unique proposition. There have already been world-dominating adaptations of fantasy and zombie-adjacent stories, but few TV shows beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe which tackle the ideas and themes of Gaiman’s comics. Yet there’s also an increasing appetite for dystopian narratives (just look at the wildfire success of Squid Game), which could bode well for the grimly brutal atmosphere of The Last of Us.

Beyond that, though, their success will depend on which of the three is able to use the foundations of its source material to say something truly new. Zombies, magic, and superheroes are all well and good, but audiences are glutted on fantasy and spectacle. We’ve already had dragons. Now give us something with a little more bite.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

First Trailer For Netflix Adaptation of 'The Sandman' Drops
Entertainment

First Trailer For Netflix Adaptation of 'The Sandman' Drops

Our first look at Dream and how he was imprisoned.

First Image From HBO's 'The Last of Us' Adaptation Revealed
Entertainment

First Image From HBO's 'The Last of Us' Adaptation Revealed

The still might not give much away but at least the wardrobe is spot-on.

Nick Offerman Joins 'The Last of Us' Live-Action Cast as Bill
Entertainment

Nick Offerman Joins 'The Last of Us' Live-Action Cast as Bill

Ron Swanson takes on zombie killing as his new hobby.


Naughty Dog and PlayStation Reportedly Developing 'The Last of Us Part II: Director's Cut'
Gaming

Naughty Dog and PlayStation Reportedly Developing 'The Last of Us Part II: Director's Cut'

Months after there were rumors of the game receiving a multiplayer battle royale mode.

The 1990 BMW M3 E30 Doesn't Get Any Rarer Than This Sport Evo III
Automotive

The 1990 BMW M3 E30 Doesn't Get Any Rarer Than This Sport Evo III

One of just 600 ever made, this example is at auction with Collecting Cars and will fetch over $140,000 USD.

Aries Brings a Military Influence to Eastpak's Classic Bags
Fashion

Aries Brings a Military Influence to Eastpak's Classic Bags

Dressed in a tie-dye camouflage print.

Goldwin and icebreaker Link For Cozy Merino Capsule
Fashion

Goldwin and icebreaker Link For Cozy Merino Capsule

Natural performance meets tailored design.

Porsche Showcases Its Upcoming 718 Cayman GT4 RS
Automotive

Porsche Showcases Its Upcoming 718 Cayman GT4 RS

Tackling the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit with ease.

Shanghai Fashion Week SS22 Attendees Deliver Casual Fits and Lessons in Layering
Fashion 

Shanghai Fashion Week SS22 Attendees Deliver Casual Fits and Lessons in Layering

Highlighting the oversized street-leaning aesthetic.


Isaiah Rashad Delivers "THIB" Visual
Music

Isaiah Rashad Delivers "THIB" Visual

A cut from his latest album, ‘The House Is Burning.’

Play Double Agent This Halloween With Yandy's Take on the 'Squid Game' Guard Uniform
Fashion

Play Double Agent This Halloween With Yandy's Take on the 'Squid Game' Guard Uniform

‘Squid Game’ but make it sexy.

Casablanca Returns to Monte-Carlo for FW21 Tailoring Collection
Fashion

Casablanca Returns to Monte-Carlo for FW21 Tailoring Collection

Mixing casino references with luxury fabrics.

Raf Simons (RUNNER) Has Never Been Stronger
Footwear

Raf Simons (RUNNER) Has Never Been Stronger

The blacked-out FW21 range is available to purchase from Machine-A now.

ACRONYM's FW21 Drop 2 Is Now Available at HBX
Fashion

ACRONYM's FW21 Drop 2 Is Now Available at HBX

Techwear for the colder days ahead.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. If you enjoy our content, please whitelist our site to show your support. We’d really appreciate it.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.