During the weekend, news broke that SyFy Films (a joint venture of the SyFy Channel and Universal Studios) and had optioned theatrical and television rights to Wild Cards, the original shared-world superhero series concocted by George R.R. Martin and the Wild Cards Consortium of writers. We’ve done some digging, and we have a handful of additional details to share.
One question that immediately rose to mind for us was… to what degree is this new project related to the script that Melinda Snodgrass was writing in the mid-2000’s, at which time the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then called) took out an option for a TV movie that they let lapse? Melinda Snodgrass, who joins George R.R. Martin as an executive producer on this developing film project, provides part of the answer when she posted the news. There, she mentions that spec script (that is, a script written on speculation of selling it) was part of what she created when she originally started pitching the project, and we’re going to guess that it at least played a role in the present deal, even if it sound as if she’ll be writing a fresh script for the project
What do we know about the script? The original report notes that it would be contemporary and would feature only some of the “original” characters that populated the first anthologies. We’ve heard from fans who spoke with Snodgrass around the time of Comic-Con that her spec script was “not an origin story” that would “mostly” focus on new characters, so we suspect it’s safe to say that this new project probably won’t be either. Speculatively, this film project may start “in media res”, with the release of the Wild Card virus after the end of World War II being well in the past and the existence of super-powered Aces and disfigured Jokers simply an accepted fact of life. This would have the benefit of giving the potential franchise a rich body of history to draw on to give the film setting obvious depth, allow for intriguing hints and references that could be explored in follow-ups (including prequels?), and avoid the pitfalls inherent with origin stories (more of a problem for the big superhero universes, where the origin story keeps getting rehashed each time there’s a reboot).
The other detail we have also comes from Snodgrass, who discusses in some detail the title of executive producer that she and Martin hold. For those afraid that executive producers on films are as intimately involved as executive producers on TV shows, never fear—Snodgrass indicates that unlike showrunners on television, executive producers in film aren’t really ultimate authorities or deeply involved generally speaking. Martin and Snodgrass will have a bit more involvement and influence than if they weren’t executive producers, but it sounds like a film will rest heavily in the hands of the studio and whichever director is signed.
If you really want a taste of what Wild Cards is, you really should try the reissued Wild Cards I. An amazing collection of contributions, most notably (for my money) the stories by Howard Waldrop, Walter Jon Williams, Roger Zelazny, and of course Snodgrass and Martin.