‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Writers Don’t Want Narnia to Be a “Great Big Fantasy Franchise”? | Talking Beasts

Podcast Discussion

The original Narnia screenwriting duo is back in the news. What did Christopher Markus (Avengers: Infinity War) mean by not wanting the remaining Narnia movies to be “a great big fantasy franchise”?

And is The Silver Chair really the “most cinematic of the remaining books”? Listen to our reactions to their comments and then post yours.

(By the way, there’s a new Narnia podcast on the scene! It’s called The Lamp-Post Listener. Check it out!)

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26 Responses

  1. Thanks for the shout out guys! We're so excited to be part of the Narnia community and appreciate your warm welcome!

    – Daniel

  2. twinimage says:

    Love the podcast guys. Keep it up! 🙂

    Good job hosting today, Glumpuddle. I laughed when you jumped right in and announced, "It's time to stump a NarniaWebber!" No need for any transition. Just get down to business. haha

  3. narnia fan 7 says:

    I forgot that Markus and McFreely were even credited for Dawn Treader. I know they where involved early on, but there were so many screenwriters who came in after that I just assumed their names weren't on it.

    Anyway I completely agree with them on this. I've been saying something similar for a few years now, that they should just focus on making each book into the best film they can, and not worry to much about creating a big franchise.

  4. Valiant_Nymph says:

    Gpuddle, I'd say the impulse to add battles and love scenes comes from the same place as the impulse to form an overarching thread: a desire to make the books more like other series which have already been proven successful.

    But I agree with you that Markus and McFeely probably aren't completely to blame for VDT. Even if they were, you could read these new comments as a realization on their part that their treatment of Narnia failed.

    On the other hand, I do wonder if audiences at large can grab onto a series that lacks an overarching story and the same set of characters. I've hear many people complain that the Pevensies will not be returning to Narnia, for example. I'd love to hear you guys talk about whether the particularities of Narnia make it unfit to be translated to a film franchise.

    • Glumpuddle says:

      "I do wonder if audiences at large can grab onto a series that lacks an overarching story and the same set of characters."

      Interesting question. I suspect the answer is something like: Yes…but not an enormous audience. Not a big enough audience to justify huge blockbuster budgets. (To which I say: Then slash the budgets and market to a more specific audience)

      • Rilian says:

        Indeed an interesting question. Although perhaps even the big franchises are realizing this. I look at the atmospheric differences between say, The First Avenger, Thor: The Dark World, and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and each really is a very different story even though they are all in the same universe.

      • Throne Warden says:

        That is true about the MCU. They are constantly touting the idea of reinventing themselves and telling their stories within the framework of different genres. For example, Antman is in the heist genre, Cap 2 is classified as a spy thriller, Thor 3 is almost a straight up comedy, Guardians 1 & 2 are space opera adventures, etc.

        However, when characters are introduced in the MCU, there is almost an expecation that we will see them again and see team-ups with them, etc. Also, they all have the similar tones in humor, hero-drive plots, and high stakes.

        The Narnia books are more one-and-done stories where many characters do not repeat and the tones, plots, villains, even settings are drastically different. Way less overlap than the MCU.

        There such an emphasis on huge budget/huge returns blockbusters in moviemaking today. Which means characters, plots, source material get compromised in favor of lowest common denominator and proven formulas to appeal to the largest possible audiences. And that isn't a formula for a good Narnia movie. I'm with Glumpuddle; here's to smaller budgets!!

      • Valiant_Nymph says:

        That's a good point, GlumPuddle. I know LWW has mass appeal, but the series as a whole is a bit niche. At least that is the impression I have.

  5. Col. Klink says:

    I disagree with Glumpuddle on making Prince Caspian different from LWW being a bold move. It's kind of a Hollywood convention for the sequel to be darker and have higher stakes than the original. That being said, I don't feel like Prince Caspian was excessively dark for the most part. I actually don't agree with FantasiaKitty's editorial (don't know where it is or I'd link to it) about the movies making Narnia too dramatic and not a place people would like to visit. I'd personally love to explore the world the Prince Caspian movie. (It's true that a lot of bad things happen in that movie but technically those things happened in the book too even if they weren't described in as much detail.) Maybe it's just because I like misty mornings and old ruins.

    It's a funny thing about the VODT screenplay. It really feels like a first draft to me even though I know because of the leaked script that it wasn't. It has all the hallmarks: villain with unclear powers, plot points that don't make a lot of sense, placeholder characters, cheesy or awkward dialogue. The sad thing is if were a first draft, I would think it was a pretty promising one. A lot of Eustace's dialogue was hilarious and a lot of the stuff with Caspian, Edmund and Lucy hanging out was fine. If there had been more drafts, they could have reworked the kinks in the plotline and replaced the bad lines with better ones.

    Of course, I probably still wouldn't have been thrilled with the resulting movie. I don't like the idea of an overarching threat to be conquered because I feel it made people forget about Aslan's country. While there technically isn't that much more buildup to Aslan's country in the book, you don't forget about it by the time they get there like you do in the movie.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I would agree with your assessment of going "darker" not being a giant leap. Just take the DCEU. Even most trilogies seem to like making the 2nd installment "gritty and realistic, the Empire Strikes Back of (insert franchise)"

      With the Cap trilogy, I think the shift in mood was a plus because they kept the more serious vibe throughout Civil War, not just a one movie fling for Winter Soldier.

      In the case of Narnia, although it does give them a sadder and more desperate feel (whereas in the book they seemed more like an off-shoot rebel group) even THE darkest book, Last Battle, where beloved talking beasts die left and right, it still contained many quiet and hopeful moments.

  6. Valiant_Nymph says:

    Oh, just an idea for another podcast: have you guys thought about reviewing the music from the movies? 🙂

    • Rilian says:

      Valiant, as a soundtrack nerd, I certainly have =D Although I'm not sure how many episodes that would be. Three I suppose.

      • Valiant_Nymph says:

        Three episodes on that topic would be awesome, Rilian! .I hope you guys consider doing it 🙂

    • Larry W. says:

      The soundtrack music from the movies is good, although I think the BBC Narnia's soundtrack by Geoffrey Burgon was better for the fairy tale atmosphere of the books. Its music is old, but I like Narnia to be old fashioned (that's just my personal taste). If someone hasn't heard any of the soundtracks separately from the movies and TV series it is worth checking them out on YouTube, where there are channels with videos which have the audio portion. And if you really like them some of the BBC's soundtrack music and I think all of the film music is available on CD.

      • Col. Klink says:

        I know a lot of people really like the BBC Narnia theme but I find it pretty meh. If I remember right, it sounds good when Tumnus plays it on his flute but the main orchestration sounds tinny. Even on the flute, it's pretty but it doesn't particularly remind me Narnia.

        I don't think it's because I'm against fairy tales or old fashioned things. I love 'em. I just don't find the BBC's Narnia theme particularly evocative.

        My favorite track on the LWW soundtrack is Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus. My favorite track on the Prince Caspian soundtrack is The Door in the Air. I honestly think they both have a fairy tale-like feel to them.

      • Larry W. says:

        I liked Wunderkind, but I thought it was a bit too modern for the Narnia films. Sorry, Col. Klink, but I will always like the BBC Narnia music about as much I like the series. Unfortunately, the full BBC soundtrack of Voyage of the Dawn Treader was not released (I'm not even sure if it's by Geoffrey Burgon). I really liked that one too. The difference in taste might be because I am much older than most of the people posting here, or it could be that I just like old fashioned things. I bought the first and third movie soundtracks because I liked "Lucy Meets Mr. Tumnus" (especially the flute) and most of the other selections. They are very listenable albums. But mostly, the BBC music sounds better to me even though I liked both soundtracks. As you may remember, there were parts of Holst's The Planets in the background of Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That's a great use of classical music, which is something like Geoffrey Burgon's compositions.

      • Col. Klink says:

        Why should you say you're sorry? No one should feel that they have to apologize for the music they like. I give my opinion because that is what this comments section is for, not because I'm trying to change anyone's mind.

        Isn't Wunderkind a song from the credits of one of the Narnia movies? I don't really think of them when I talk about soundtracks even though they're technically part of them. I don't think of the credits as being part of the film proper.

      • Larry W. says:

        I remember that Wunderkind was a bonus track on the CD. This was perhaps because the song was only used in the credits. Some of the other songs are really nice, e.g. Winter Light (also from the credits), Can't Take It In, and Western Woods. I bought it as a sort of companion to the movie. I think I would have liked the CD even if the songs weren't used in the film. They are quite good, although they aren't medieval music, which I think would have fit in better with Narnia and C.S. Lewis.

    • Col. Klink says:

      Here's a link to an old episode of the podcast about the music.
      For some reason though, it doesn't have anything about the music from the BBC miniseries or the 1970s cartoon.

  7. ChristianMan17 says:

    I’ve always blamed Michael Apted for the VDT film. But it may not also be his fault. I really hate when they take it far away from what they’re based off of and ruined it. And yes, I get it when you’re doing adaptations, u gotta make changes but it just needs to make sense people!!!! And most importantly, it needs to keep the theme of what the adaptation is about!!
    There r some changes I liked in LWW movie, like when they played hide and seek and Lucy finds the Wardrobe covered up. I liked it and it made sense.
    There are a few things I don’t want SC to have. I’m hoping that Joe Johnston lets the Audience do the talking on some scenes and not like VDT where everything is Being told in front of the Audience. I really don’t want Sc to be a ‘Save the World’ Story. I mean, yes they do save Narnia from the Lotgk, but it’s not purely about that, the theme of the book is about Jill learning trust! And please no Sad Puddleglum! I hate what they did with Reepicheep in Dawn Treader, they got him so wrong!
    Another thing I don’t want them to do with Sc is not make it a lot like Harry Potter 2 and not even reference it. I don’t want rillian to kill the snake through the roof of its mouth, like how Harry did it with the Basilisk, I don’t want that to happen in there.

  8. Col. Klink says:

    In "Return of Talking Beasts" the podcasters said they'd like feedback about the new segments. On reflection…I'm afraid I don't like any of the segments except Stump a Narniawebber.

    The only books by C.S. Lewis that I'm really attached to are the Narnia books and the Screwtape Letters. So I don't enjoy the C.S. Lewis Minute because it's about things I'm not interested in.

    I like the idea of the Narnia Nana but I don't like the way her voice sounds, though I feel really mean saying that. (FWIW I hate the way my voice sounds when recorded too.)

    The only segments on the podcast which I don't skip are the Voices of Narniaweb and the Stump a Narniawebber.

  9. Great discussion, guys.

    I always felt that Markus and McFeely were ill-suited for adapting the Chronicles of Narnia. The Marvel movies, however, have gotten better since these writers jumped on board. Winter Soldier is so well written and engaging. Civil War and Infinity War (so many wars!) are almost as good. They elevated the MCU movie scripts beyond quippy dialogue and exposition.

    The recent comments by Markus do sound like he's trying to hint that they weren't in charge of the final Narnia screenplays, and that they had intended to make thoughtful adaptations out of the books, rather than a new fantasy franchise with interlinking parts. It goes without saying that most films are like this; the writers are there to do the groundwork, and the script is reworked and changed plenty by the end of the process. I'm sure some studio exec was responsible for the White Witch's reappearance in both PC and VoDT. That hardly seems like a decision the writers would make.

    In any case, I'm just speculating. I agree with what Markus says though. If the approach for the remaining Narnia films is to make thoughtful movies that are marketed accordingly, there's still plenty of money to be made. Don't sell Narnia as a big epic Middle-earth for tweens. These books are individually unique, beautiful, magical, virtuous, emotional, otherworldly. I wish studios would trust their audiences a little more. Heck, trust the source material.


  10. PhelanVelvel says:

    Glad to see the original Talking Beasts duo again! (Haven't listened to the podcasts for a bit, so maybe this is delayed, haha.)

  11. Spidey says:

    They need to hire Anthony Russo and Joe Russo to direct the Narnia movies, don't mind if they want to reboot.

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  13. JGFII says:

    The Silver Chair [book] is as cinematic as you imagine it to be. Magician's Nephew's The Birth of Narnia Sequence is, in my view, the most cinematic scene in the whole series (as far as possible adaptations are concerned). Still, I love the trio personality of the Silver Chair book: it is simultaineously mundane (grey Ettinsmoor), spectacular – dark (Underland) and comforting – light (Narnia), with all 3 tones dipping into eachother at different points in the story. So, yes. The Silver Chair movie definitely could be the most cinematic Narnia movie YET, if that's what those screenwriters meant.