Where Netflix’s Narnia Reboot Should Start | Talking Beasts

Vodcast Discussion

We’re kicking off Season 4 of Talking Beasts: The Narnia Podcast with fresh thoughts on Netflix’s upcoming adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.

In 2005, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe seemed like the obvious choice for the first Narnia movie. Nearly 15 years later… Netflix’s course may be less clear-cut.

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27 Responses

  1. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    Man, with the Last Airbender and Narnia there's a lot on the line right now.

    I suspect that they will go with 2-3 books per season (like ASoUE) and start with MN because everyone I know (even book haters) already have some idea about LWW's plot.

    I don't know about a Charn mini-series. However, something I would love would be if the first episode cold-opens with Jadis' last stand/the deplorable word/dusting then switching to Digory and Polly's meeting immediately after the intro/theme.

    In general I don't think they will make a bunch of spin-off series or add too much. However, I think they might have a lot of flashbacks of implied events/expansion of backstories. I love the idea of an entire Aravis backstory episode.

    Only after they complete all 3-4 seasons and if the series is a hit do I think they might start adding to their cannon.

  2. Col Klink says:

    (Warning: The following comment is going to be super negative. I really don't want to be a marsh-wiggle and rain on people's parades but I have to be honest. If you want to read something happier or at least more neutral, just skip to the second half of this comment.)

    I don't think they should make a series out of the Narnia books or at least not the kind of series that Gresham seems to be talking about. I like miniseries of books with really complicated plots and lots of characters. For example, I'm really looking forward to the miniseries of Les Miserables that will be shown on PBS in April. Well, I have some concerns about it too but that's not important right now.;) The Narnia books have pretty simple and fairy tale-esque plots. It's true that parts of them require a lot of exposition which is easier to do in a series. But if they want to do the whole book, like Gresham suggests, we may get half an episode of Digory staring out a window looking for Jadis and Uncle Andrew while Polly is grounded.

    I know a lot of Narnia fans are excited about the idea of exploring Charn further but I think it would be a big mistake. It's not that I think Charn isn't a great location/element in the story. But it's not….Narnian for lack of a better word. If they start out of with some Game of Thrones lite story about a devastating battle, with rivers flowing blood, and a villain who destroys the whole world out of spite and then the rest of the season is a magical adventure about two spunky kids featuring comedic talking animals, it'll just come across as ridiculous. (As you can tell, no, I'm not a fan of trying to make Narnia more adult that the Walden versions did except for the Last Battle. The target audience for the books has always been kids and nostalgic adults. Trying to make it for a bunch of stupid teenagers would be a mistake.)

    This paragraph doesn't have as much to do with Narnia or Netflix really but I think it's an interesting topic. Glumpuddle said that one of the benefits of Netflix is that the higher ups are less likely to stop the creators from making something interesting and unique because it's not marketable. This is true to an extent but there's a flipside. If the creators want to do something really dumb, the higher ups are less likely to stop them. I don't know if anyone reading this browses sites where they make fun of terrible movies, but if they have, they'll like have heard of an independent movie called The Room. I hesitate to mention it here because it's not appropriate for kids. In fact, it's not really appropriate for adults. But it was a closet drama, which wasn't really trying be artistic rather than marketable, and it was objectively terrible. I think that's a good reminder that staying true to your own artistic vision can be a bad thing.

    It's surprising and kind of fascinating how open, even happy, people are about the idea of doing the new series in chronological order when chronological order is so unpopular with the general fanbase. I guess it just goes to show that (a) the story of LWW is becoming a bigger part of our culture and (b) people really want to see adaptations of the later books in the series. I have to say I feel the same way.

    Sorry this comment had to be so doomy and gloomy. I really did enjoy this episode a lot. The whole reason this comment is so ridiculously is because I'm psyched for this season. (Do people still say psyched? Oh well.)

  3. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    Erm… I’m a teen and I like Narnia and I’m pretty sure you used to be one too:) Narnia’s target audience is for anyone who wants a good read with interesting characters and magical story. Filing it away as kid stuff makes me sad.

  4. Col Klink says:

    Well, I didn't mean that teenagers can't enjoy it. I just said they're not the target audience. (You'll notice that I said Narnia was aimed at nostalgic adults.)

    Have you read any of Lewis' works that weren't aimed at kids? I've read a handful and I can tell you that the writing style he employed, while not drastically different, was not exactly the same. Maybe if you read The Chronicles of Narnia, then read The Great Divorce (for adults) and then read Till We Have Faces (for teenagers), you'll understand what I'm saying about target audiences.

  5. Col Klink says:

    Well, I didn't mean that teenagers can't enjoy it. I just said they're not the target audience. (You'll notice that I said Narnia was aimed at nostalgic adults.)

    Have you read any of Lewis' works that weren't aimed at kids? I've read a handful and I can tell you that the writing style he employed, while not drastically different, was not exactly the same. Maybe if you read The Chronicles of Narnia, then read The Great Divorce (for adults) and then read Till We Have Faces (for teenagers), you'll understand what I'm saying about target audiences.

  6. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I have read the some of the Silent Planet series and yes the writing style isn’t *exactly* the same but I’m not sure if that’s the result of audience change. I’ve read different “children’s” series by the same author (even ones set in the same universe) and the writing styles similar but not carbon copies of each other. Even when I compare LWW to LB the writing style has developed and changed a bit.

  7. Cleander says:

    It doesn't surprise me at all that Netflix "seems" to be going in a more family-friendly direction, given the fact that their CEO openly said last year that they were planning to reach out to the "family/faith-based" audience with their new line of programs. This is why I'm not expecting the Narnia series to be PG-13. That's not to say they can't be darker- Walden's Prince Caspian demonstrated this nicely. (Actually I think they should be darker only in the sense that they take Narnia as reality and not as some sparkly fairy-tale. Which means more history/politics, and realistic, albeit not gratuitous violence.)

  8. Cleander says:

    P.S.- I totally agree with Glumpuddle's ideas on how the Battle of Charn should be done! I can just imagine the final shot with the silhouette of Jadis looking out over an empty world…

  9. Col Klink says:

    I really think it could do either way at this point like the podcasters said. Netflix is known for doing edgy content but they have an interest in courting family audiences. We'll have to wait until they have a head writer to know what direction they're going to take Narnia.

  10. Fireberry says:

    It seems to me that the power of the Charn backstory is its impact on Digory & Polly when Jadis recounts it. If Netflix dramatizes all this before we even meet Digory & Polly, the series might have a bit of a "Point of View" problem. But, let's see. 🙂

    In Other News – Hope you NarniaWebbers check out & comment on the swiftly upcoming "Tolkien" biopic. :)))

  11. Frodo Lives says:

    I LOVE Narnia. But I HATE Netflix. See my dilemma?

    It’s impossible for me to get excited about this Narnia/Netflix fling. That’s right. Fling. Narnia deserves better than this. Otherwise it’s better that no more Narnia adaptations be made.

    Netflix doesn’t care what Narnia stands for. It’s concerned only about ensnaring more subscribers, while paying members get drunk on multiple episodes wherever and whenever they want, all the time. That’s not entertainment. That’s slowly drinking poison. I don’t own Netflix but I HATE what it’s doing to my family, like a drug. It’s destroying quality time with my elderly parents, because they’re addicted to it!

    Having Narnia contribute to this binge-watching drug under the guise of more creative freedom is, frankly, depressing. Does Douglas Gresham have you any idea what Netflix is doing to people his age?

    I hope Netflix goes the way of Blockbuster, and soon. Narnia needs to be left alone.

  12. Col Klink says:

    Well, um, who do you think should make a Narnia adaptation? I mean what entertainment company "care about what Narnia stands for" as opposed to wanting to ensnare customers?

    I'm not a fan of Netflix but if they're willing to make a good adaptation of Narnia for money, I'm happy to see them get paid for it. I'm just that kind of evil capitalist, I suppose.

  13. Glumpuddle says:

    "If the creators want to do something really dumb, the higher ups are less likely to stop them."

    Well, either way, there's obviously no way to to make sure great decisions are made 100% of the time (especially since that's entirely subjective). Of course there's always going to be risk, but generally I think the creative people (writers, directors) should be allowed to make the creative decisions, not the suits.

  14. Demos says:

    I'm all for the Charn cold open – but it should really cut after Jadis replies "Victory, but not yours" and leave the viewer guessing what she meant by that. When the kids travel to Charn and find it a dead world, and then learn from the witch just how that came about, it's much more horrifying. Keep the deplorable word off screen, I say!

    Oh, and with respect to the hall of ancestors – I don't think Lewis intended for those people to be sleeping except Jadis. The rest were just life-like wax figures or statues of generations of former rulers.

  15. JFG II says:

    A Netflix Original Series (Chronological Order)

    Season One: Jadis & Aslan

    Season Two: Shasta & Caspian

    Season Three: Eustace & Jill

    A Netflix Original Movie
    – Tirian –

    Season One: Books 1 & 2 (2020?)
    Season Two: Books 3 & 4 (2021?)
    Season Three: Books 5 & 6 (2023?)
    Original Movie: Book 7 (2025?)

  16. JFG II says:

    Agreed! Very well thought out. Sounds very ‘Lord of the Rings’ like (the movies) with a cold open getting audiences interested before prologue changes to safe, mundane opening scenes, and then revealing more terrifying information later on, which turns up the tension another notch. 😀 😉

  17. I definitely think MN is the place to start. Everyone I know who has read it liked it almost as much as LWW, and that would be a great start to a new series. And I do think it should be a series, if nothing else because it makes it possible to do things that don't fit a movie (like the snow melting, or back stories, or whatever else would be really cool without breaking from the book as badly as VDT lol). And I'm okay with back stories, though obviously I'd rather they start with the ones in the books. The Charn battle was a thing, it did happen, and so I'm not overly concerned about the details of if/how they get into it.

    As far as the audience is concerned, I would be okay with a SLIGHTLY more mature storytelling. I say this for two reasons:
    1. Despite its fairy-tale-like setting, Lewis gets into some pretty deep stuff in these stories. Obviously, there are the Biblical themes like creation, the resurrection, and the end times, which is very much not "kid-friendly". And it tends to get dark too – there's that part in PC about bringing back to the Witch, the Witch literally killing everybody in the world, the giants at Harfang that ate humans and talking beasts and other sentient creatures, and I could go on. IMO these are just not for kids – or at least, not for little kids. Of course I'm awfully biased, because the White Witch literally scared me as a kid (like the boogie-man might for other kids, lol), but I kind of feel like Narnia has so much to offer the 10+ audience that we shouldn't water it down to make it more "kid-friendly".
    2. It's true that the target audience of the books was kids and nostalgic adults, but IMO that was the case in a very different time. Back then, our parents actually read us stories (or at the very least mine did), and kids actually read for fun (sure I had my NES and my toys, but on the road a good book was the way to go). But kids today have access to tech that was unbelieveable in the 80s and 90s, and I have yet to meet one that reads anything – even comic books – for fun. So those target audiences might not be around much longer; I'm not getting any younger, and those of us who look back so fondly on Narnia are getting older, without a new generation of kids to grow up to be nostalgic adults (lol, hope that makes sense).

    Anyway, sorry for this way-too-long comment! I think next time I'll just write a blog post (lol). But if you made it this far, thanks for hearing my two cents on the subject. 🙂

  18. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I'm sorry if you feel that way, but if Netflix tanked (and I don't see that happening) I'm pretty sure that means the end of Narnia adaptations for a good, foreseeable future. I mean, look at how long it took for people to pick it up after Dawn Treader?

    However, that would just pause the inevitable, so I want them to make adaptations when Douglas Gresham is alive so he can oversee them to a degree.

    And honestly you're correct that Netflix doesn't care about Narnia means to you, but like no company really does. If Netflix tanked then a different streaming service would pick it up and I'm not optimistic about a Disney Narnia show. Our best bet is if they hire a competent director who grew up reading the books.

  19. Frodo Lives says:

    I’m sorry more Narnia fans don’t understand Netflix is like a bag of Doritos: Completely unhealthy, but one chip makes you crave another and another- and willing to pay more (That’s by design.) Netflix attracting faith-based family audiences… with Narnia? No offense, for me, that’s not much incentive to accept new adaptations and continue the inevitable. As I said, Narnia deserves better, or not at all.

  20. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    But isn't that a bit unfair? Like claiming that if anyone has a glass of wine they suddenly become an alcoholic?

    My experience with Netflix addicts is only with people my age, but they usually have little self-control in other areas too, like constantly on Instagram, texting in class, following harmful trends, etc. Netflix is just one of their many fixes.

    On the flip side I know several people (usually faith-based families with mid to high school kids) who slowly savor an episode or two with their family as a sort of short movie night. Maybe I'm naive but if a Narnia tv show gives them a fun night, then hooray for them:)

  21. TV Pato2 says:

    Will Netflix start over and do their version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Will they pick up where the Walden Media movies left off and do The Silver Chair? Or perhaps another book? Nothing has been officially announced.

  22. Joshy says:

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  23. Ted C says:

    I don't have an iPhone.

  24. Ted C says:


  25. Ted C says:


  26. narnia fan 7 says:

    The ones thing I'm not concerned about with Narnia on Netflix is it being to dark.

    The reason a lot of Netflix Originals are dark and violent is because creators the don't have many restrictions placed on them, so they can essentially have free reign to go as dark as they want to. So a Narnia series on Netflix could definitely go darker than any of the movies, but I wouldn't worry about it going to far.

  27. Christopher says:

    HALLELUJAH! AMEN TO THAT!!! My folks are of the same mindset – Narnia deserves better than to be reduced to just another click in the lives of obsessive Netflix viewers who get addicted to their binge-watching.

    I remember that in 2009, my family’s summer vacation was traveling to Kansas City, Missouri, to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Exhibition”, back when Andrew Adamson was at the top. THAT. . . was a truly immersive experience: We got to walk through the Wardrobe, sit on Jadis’ Icy Throne, see actual props and costumes worn by the actors. Aisle 1 was devoted to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Aisle 2 was devoted to Prince Caspian. I even bought a set of 4 post cards, one of which was a small Prince Caspian Map Legend overview of the journey territory covered in the film. Even Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park had a PRINCE CASPIAN exhibit of their own, and I got to tour that as well. . .

    I am extremely disappointed that Andrew Adamson lost his zeal and passion for Narnia, and has not done a rebound like Peter Jackson on The Hobbit and returned in full swing to direct The Magician’s Nephew, like he planned it that way from the beginning. BOY, how I wish he would!