Should the Fans Revolt if Netflix Expands Narnia? | Talking Beasts
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Ever since Netflix announced they were developing Chronicles of Narnia movies and series, fans have been speculating that the streaming giant might not be satisfied with just seven stories. In this episode, the podcasters discuss the possibility of Netflix going beyond C.S. Lewis‘s canon and telling original Narnia stories.
Here is everything that is known about Netflix’s Narnia.
Also check out the latest video on the Into the Wardrobe YouTube channel:
Bonus Video: Part 2 of this discussion where Glumpuddle and Rilian talk about Amazon’s upcoming The Lord of the Rings series.
I’d like to see an anchoring subplot about the real-world (England 1950’s) friendship of all the “Friends of Narnia”, especially their regular meetings. Perhaps the Seven Chronicles then unfold as flashbacks (except The Last Battle which would be forward). I’d hope to see how these characters connect, support each other, and cope with real-world issues and struggles after having been to Narnia. And is Susan really drifting away from the others, or is she just “finding her own way back”? I’d love to see an epilogue, just about Susan in England, post-TLB.
Something I feel both podcasters are kind of ignoring in this episode is that it’s highly unusual for there to be seven movies in a series or seven seasons of a show without the quality dropping. (Like Jenalyn, having all the Narnia books adapted well first is a prerequisite for me countenancing original Narnia stories from Netflix.) It’ll be something of a miracle if Netflix’s Narnia is that consistently great, but I can just see it happening if they stick to the source material. And even if, as Glumpuddle proposes, everyone loves The Last Battle, it doesn’t mean they’ll want more. In fact, I can see fans of the adaptations who haven’t read the books, being just as cynical about it as those who have. I’m imagining a lot of comments along the lines of “The Last Battle was such a perfect ending! Why are they trying to top it?” or “Boy, they’re really milking this Narnia franchise for every drop, aren’t they?”
I wouldn’t really like Glumpuddle’s first suggestion for expanding on LWW because…well, like Rilian said, I don’t think it’d really add anything worthwhile and would just be expansion for expansion’s sake. Since it would take place a hundred years before the main action, it couldn’t include any of the characters we actually care about. Maybe as a single scene (of the Narnians happily going about their business during the summer and then it suddenly turning cold) it could work, but as an entire episode, it would be a waste of time. While his fourth proposal has the benefit of being completely removed from C. S. Lewis’s characters and therefore feeling less obviously heretical, it’s just so similar to the main Narnia books in premise (children from our world travel to Narnia and have adventures) that it sounds like it’d be a pointless retread to me. And I imagine fans unfamiliar with the books would be wondering “why don’t they meet any of the original characters?” It just sounds like a really obvious attempt to drag out the series as long as possible.
I will say the idea of Netflix doing spinoffs of their Narnia adaptations doesn’t bug me nearly as much as an “eighth Narnia book” getting published. Netflix spinoffs would probably annoy me a bit, but they’d ultimately be spinoffs of something they themselves created, however much of its greatness they might owe to the source material. The original books, to me, belong to C. S. Lewis in a way adaptations of them don’t. (For a point of comparison, I may not like The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh or any of the other Pooh spinoffs Disney has made, but their existence doesn’t offend me in the same way that Return to Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus does.) The most irritating side effect of Netflix spinoffs (for book fans) would be Narnia newbies constantly asking “which book is (uncanonical character) in? He’s the best!”
It’s great to be starting a new season of Talking Beasts!
I really, really hope if they decide to go further than the original 7, the first place they look is Francis Spufford’s book. I’d love to see it, and perhaps an adaptation by Netflix could turn into the book itself getting released!
Who ever does the writing and adapting should be Anglican. I deeply believe no from a different religious background would ever be able to understand or replicate the spiritual dimensions of the world.
I think they need to do all seven. The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle haven’t been yet adapted to screen.
As for spin-offs, there could be movies about King Gale, Queen Swanwhite, and the hare Moonwood, since Jewel talks about them in The Last Battle. There could be opportunity to see them on screen.
It’s probably worth acknowledging that Expanded Universe Narnia books have been written and published several times in the past already, so Netflix wouldn’t necessarily be treading on new ground here.
In the 1980s or so there were 4 “Choose your own Adventure” novels published – Return to Deathwater, The Sorceress & the Book of Spells, Leap of the Lion, and The Lost Crowns of Cair Paravel.
Then more recently there was the children’s picture book “The Giant Surprise”, not to mention Francis Spurford’s as yet unpublished “The Stone Table” novel.
And there was also a whole in level in the Prince Caspian video game which dealt with the Telmarine invasion in between LWW and PC.
Netflix therefore wouldn’t be the first, and certainly won’t be the last to add to the expanded Narnia world.
I think there were actually 5 of thoseChoose Your Own Adventure books, but Return of the White Witch is very rare. 🙁
It is worth noting that the CS Lewis Estate has apparently NOT been willing to publish Spufford’s book. So either it’s awful (highly unlikely based on his other books) or they are just completely down on the idea of expanded Narnia Adventures.
If I remember rightly, The Giant Surprise was supposed to have been the beginning of a series that never developed. I know a LOT of Christians freaked out back then- stories in both World Magazine and Focus on the Family about how adding to Narnia was a bad idea…
While those choose-your-own adventure books were a thing, hardly anyone has read them or heard of them. They’re not much of a precedent.
See, because I generally regard books and adaptations as different things, I am not immediately opposed to the idea of expanding the universe. I love transformative works and I think Narnia has such great wealth of emotion built into the world that is so easily exploitable for newer narratives that’d be interesting to see. My grief starts in that I think it’s very unlikely they’ll do it well, both the adaptation and the expansions. I base this off of the only other lengthy children’s adaptation of theirs I followed which was A Series of Unfortunate Events. I think it’s a very decent adaptation but as the books became more complex, the adaptation missed the nuance in its newer themes. VFD—the secret organisation that has been in the background of everything—was particularly misunderstood. But it was a fine adaptation and gave some amazing moments. I reckon Narnia will end up in a similar situation and I’d be okay with it. My expectations of Netflix are /very/ low.
The thing is… I don’t really think Netflix will even get to expand it. I don’t know what kind of crazy engagement they’ll think they’ll get out of the series but I am very sceptical about it turning real. Narnia is not for all the tastes—at least not the true Narnia and they WILL try to force it somehow. This is what will probably bring down the quality later on. I don’t mean this to be a prophecy—quite the contrary—but it’s just what I think is more likely. I would love to be surprised.
Personally, if we must see some elaboration within the main series—and I’d rather the main adaptation be a series, honestly—I think expanding on the Friends of Narnia or having and ‘England’ plot might be worthwhile. I think it could draw interest, provide some narrative continuity—we do change protagonists a bit—and elucidate on the circumstances of the ending. There’s a reason the problem of Susan is so polemic and oft discussed and I think it could be something to profit of of. I genuinely would love to see it.
If by some chance it does really well and does get the SW universe treatment, they’ve got LOADS to pull from. I’d be enthusiastic! The Charn series would be SO cool. I definitely could see a movie for Swanwhite. The beginning of the Eternal Winter… the Caspian conquest… the creation of Archenland… There’s literally loads and it’s so open ended that you could do virtually anything. The only thing—and this is critical and thus most likely to miss—would be that you’d have to hire writers who really get what /makes/ Narnia itself. The spirit of it all. The wonder and the grief and the song that birthed it all. Without that, the Narnia name will just be a marketing strategy. I’ll watch it all anyway.
It is hard because i think there is no chance that they are making seven good adaptions. They just don’t get it. For me, it is the ideas expressed in the books that need to be correct and that just doesn’t seem like that is happening. They always want to water it down to one liners or just fantasy and swords and no depth to right and wrong and of that.
I want them to do seven good adaptions. If they start with MN then they have already failed because LWW will be ruined. I don’t mind expanding upon the book because transferring it to a visual medium requires they expand things. I still want each book to have like ten episodes of a show. I think it makes so much sense, but it probably isn’t going to happen.
Glad to see you’ve brought up the Into The Wardrobe channel! I remember seeing his videos and also thinking it was a little click-baitey, but he quickly proved his passion to Narnia! That being said I’m not completely opposed to the idea of any additions or spinoffs, so long as keeping the original seven stories intact remains a priority. I personally would love to see characters like Jill & Puddleglum expanded on.
If Netflix proves and establishes their Narnia adaptations, I’d be excited to see further stories set *in* the Narnian world! Please don’t bring additional characters in from our world – keep it self-contained.
Pumoed for the new season of Talking Beasts!
My thoughts on Narnia expansion:
Honestly, I don’t think Netflix would EVER seriously consider putting out Narnia spin-offs AFTER their series is complete (after all 7 adaptations – and The Last Battle – are out). It’s like leaving money on the table, and money is the real motivater behind their obessesion with subscibers. The only place I can see them putting out Narnia spin-off episodes is in the body of the Narnia tv/film series, especially if they adapt Narnia in chronological order.
(For example, I could see Netflix announcing, this Christmas, that a Narnia spin-off pilot episode AND a Narnia feature film would be released in close succession in December 2023 [The episode being an Narnia-extended-universe mashup of Jadis’s fight with her sister in Charn, and the downfall of a young Uncle Andrew as he creates the rings over many decades. The feature film being a faithful 2.5-hour-long movie adaptation of The Magician’s Nephew told entirely prom Digory’s perspective, so there would be know need for Jadis/Uncle flashbacks.] Netflix would use the pilot episode, adapted from Lewis’s writing, as an appetizer (and apeasement) to Narnia fans before going into non-canon material like “Reepcheep-Batman Begins”. The movie would be the main course.)
End of rant. It’s great to hear your voices again after sveral months Glum & Rilian!
I don’t like the idea of expanding beyond the original stories. Hopefully, they will keep the adaptations within the content of the seven books. There is too much of a chance that the series of programs will become something that Lewis would never have intended.
They Must resist the temptation to start with LWW. We’ve already had two sires do the first three and nether of them got beyond four. I want at least an attempt at showing one of the other stories.
I agree that a run of seven movies might not make it. They might consider starting with Silver Chair as suggested above. They already have a script, whether the script is any good or not, I do not know. I would like to see before I die the last four completed. I am becoming more cynical that this will ever happen. I am an old man, and I might not live to see these movies. I think that movies should follow the books, and TV shows could go anywhere they want. I can think of several avenues to go down. Whether I will watch the TV shows or not is another matter. I am a Narnia purist. I also think that Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones should not be mixed with Narnia. Andrew Adamson was a big Lord of the Rings fan and the movies LWW and PC reflected that to some success. Michael Apted, who did the Seven documentary series well, did not do well with VDT. I guess for him it was just a job. (A little shade might be warranted. I liked VDT, but it was a poor adaptation. I hated the green mist.)
Is the new president of Mark Gordon Pictures a very knowledgeable Narnia fan, or is it just that she is now the president? Has she read the books and how many times? These books are perfect for female leadership. Lewis created four powerful and beautiful heroines in Lucy, Jill, Aravis and Polly. Three good girls and a naughty one. I really hope that the movies and TV shows that come from this effort emphasize these young women as much as they emphasize Aslan, not the foibles of stupid men who want to fight or go on an adventure. There is nothing sexy about war. I have been there. I am a guy but i really related to the women that Lewis created. I would love to see very talented young women like Millie Bobbie Brown and Grace Vanderwaal put in charge of a least the scripts maybe as producers. Millie Bobbie Brown might still be a good Jill. The purpose of the scripting process should be: follow the books either the original version or the American version, what would it take for a common young person to become a least partly religious and show that Narnia was a fun place to live. There were bad times, but there were good times too. Show the good values that Lewis was trying to get across without getting the least bit preachy. The books were first great stories but had underlying values subtly illustrated. Nothing in your face. Focus on the Family had this problem. Play down wars. Two of the things I loved about SC was that the conflict near the end of the book did not lead to war, and Jill got to show that she had grown up and come to Aslan by stop the prince from going on an adventure. Get him home as Aslan ordered. That was a beautiful moment that still gets me. The climax on SC comes a couple of chapters after the witch is killed and Jill comes to her full realization. The book is about Jill not the witch. She has help with Eustice and Puddleglum but she is the main character. Puddleglum is another character that they need to get just right, Robin Williams would have been great, God bless his soul. I hope that the estate has control over the scripts to keep the producers honest.
One other thing: Is Netflix playing games with the rollout of Narnia productions because of copyright issues? The copyrights expire in the UK and US in 2033. The copyrights have already expired in Canada. Saul Zantz tried to trademark whatever they could about Lord of the Rings before their copyrights expired. Fans had to get a lawyer to fight that. Are we going to see a battle between the fans and the studios as they try to grab as much Narnia IP as they can? It has happened before. I remember hearing the discussions on a Lord of the Rings related podcast. We need to watch trademark applications and other IP changes.
The thing that worries be about a subplot like this is that I’m pretty sure that was the idea behind Peter’s drastic character shift in Walden’s PC. While I think more can be done with the Pevensies’ characters, I’m worried attempts to do so would result in similar missteps.
Personally, the level of potential spin offs/subplots I would be most okay with is elaboration of things mentioned in the books (Charn, the Lone Islands, etc). Accurate adaptations or not, I generally don’t trust people to write my favorite Narnia characters beyond the canon established in the books
I get what you mean with fans possibly not wanting extra content, even if the show/movies are widely enjoyed, but since many studios are still to get their own cinematic universes, I find the idea of Netflix not even trying even more remote.
I agree that an 8th Narnia book would probably be more offensive to me than a spin off (even a bad spin off) ever would be. For a similar real world experience, growing up I had a series of really great science books about the periodic table of elements, molecules, and dangerous home science experiments. The series all had a very distinct look and organization, so when my mom saw a book on the solar system with the exact same distinct style and organization and (I believe) even publisher she got it for my birthday. You can imagine my confusion and disappointment when I opened it up and found the author had a completely different (and less interesting) voice than the one they were imitating (and capitalizing off of).
I think one of the most frustrating things about the potential netflix shows is that the fandom of all people seems to want even support MN being first. I understand the fear of not getting the whole series, but it will ruin LWW to have MN be first. I just do not understand how the fandom is the one pushing for that. I liked the walden LWW as well, but it has been a long time since that movie came out, so i want them to just start over and start over properly.
The will have to do so much to make a transition from MN to LWW even make sense. MN works best as the prequel to LB. That is what it is. The beginning and the end of Narnia. I just don’t get this idea. If we are discussing the ideal, perfect series, then start with LWW or i don’t understand what we are talking about.
This might be the best reason to do movies rather than a tv series.
This was a great episode. My first thought when it comes to the expansion of Narnia is Why on earth would you do that when you already have great material? But I think maybe small things like Glumpuddle’s speculations would be alright. One of the speculations such as the episode of the White Witch conquering Narnia, I think that would be something fun to watch only if it was maybe half an episode instead of a full thirty minutes. Rilian I think hit the nail on the head (while talking about the Chain spinoff show) that if fans didn’t like it, they could just forget about it if it was so set apart from the rest of the series. I think the idea of a whole episode on the fall of Charn would be interesting, but creating a whole series out of it is a bit much. As for the Reepicheep show, my first thought was NO. And I was cringing in my seat at the talk of a show between MN and LWW. Overall a good discussion.
I wouldn’t mind the Charn series. I could ignore it, but, I might watch a few characters in the series. They would really have to sell me on a Reepicheep series. But, I would watch a series about the world of pools and a different pool adventure. I would watch a Susan movie after The Last Battle or a Susan series. The Lone Islands might be boring to me as a series.
The most important first step is to keep the Christian perspective & imagery in there (as a Christian myself & that’s what Lewis designed) & the second is to stay as true to the books & vibe as possible.
I’m not going to say much except that I would be exited if they do a Charn series or a series on Susan after the last battle but when it comes to a completely out of the way spinoff series then my gut reaction is just NO please DON’T
I say, that if Netflix already made great versions of the original stories, we could trust them to make “official fanfictions” of ancillary stories, although, I might not watch them.
I don’t know how we as fans could “revolt.” Move to Canada where Narnia is public domain and film our own versions, maybe?
Yes, starting with MN will keep them from comparing everything to the popularity of LWW.
First off, the copyrights do not expire in the US in 2033 because they were renewed in the 90s. Second, Lewis, PTE ltd. already trademarked many of the character names in the United States, making it basically impossible for Narnia to ever fall into public domain in the United States. You could make a production, when it technically falls into public domain, but you would have to use stand-ins for the names and that would just feel wrong.
It is because the Disney corporation’s lawyers have been lobbying the US government to keep older Disney movies from falling into public domain, which is ironic because Disney has profited so much from public domain stories.
If Netflix does not make decent Narnian adaptions, I will be tempted to find a job in Canada, just so I can work on making Narnia comic books in my spare time and publish them in Canada. I want to see great adaptions of MN, HHB, SC, and LB and I want them to be true to the stories.
Spufford should copyright his Narnian novel in Canada, then just post it free online so Narnia fans can enjoy it, but he doesn’t get in trouble for profiting off of copyrighted material. He has written high-level fanfiction.
I am not Anglican, but I doubt every Anglican would keep things faithful to the book. The denomination seems to have drifted.
Maybe Spufford is hoping his book will be considered by Netflix. Maybe that is why he has not simply posted it for free online.
I am fairly certain that they are going to start from the beginning and redo Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
People seem to forget that Lewis had a wealth of material around the Narnia stories that was never published. I can’t imagine Doug Gresham being involved without that being offered up. My guess is the series will draw from that as well.
The thing with Charn is there is so much potential for really strong series for two powerful female leads. However, I think that because it’s an idea that I don’t think Lewis fleshed out very much that there is a great possibility for it to be turned into something like Game of Thrones.
I’m honestly “on the fence” about the whole idea. As a writer of (way too much) unpublished Narnia fan fiction, part of me likes the idea of adding to Narnia. It’s not Scripture. It’s fiction. We can add to it without breaking what makes it Narnia (and I think the guy who did the video laid out some really good “ground rules” for doing that). But then part of me feels that adding to Narnia takes away that room to explore, to invent, to imagine and speculate and dream about what “really” happened there. I don’t like the idea of new stuff overshadowing the originals. And the originals have so much amazing content, stuff a lot of people have no idea about, that would just make for such a great series, by itself… yeah, I have strong opinions on both sides of the argument.
But of all the spin-offs that could be done, I think the Charn thing has the most potential. It definitely is a “bubble”, like the Mandalorian is to Star Wars. It’s a separate world entirely, and one that I’ve often played with the idea of writing about. I feel like it could explore Jack’s whole idea even further. Suppose there were a world like the world of Narnia – how would God reveal Himself to the people of that world? Now hold on a minute: how would he reveal himself to the people of Charn? Aside from that, I think that if we’re “in a world where the Last Battle was a smash success”, then let it end on a high note, take its rightful place in history as the most epic series of all time. But if fans just have to have more, the whole idea of a series set in the world of Charn would be a great spin-off that would barely touch Narnia canon (or even Netflix’s version of Narnia). To me that’s very much comparable to Mando/Star Wars.
I could continue, and argue with myself on this all night, but those are my thoughts in a giant nutshell.
I think a good podcast discussion would be “Narnia Villains Movies” because I think with Netflix creating a Narnia universe, there’s a possibility that even the villains will get each of their own spin-off movies. I think that’s kind of the thing now (Maleficent, Cruella, Joker, etc).
I think another podcast discussion would be “Villainous Crush in Narnia Movies” (I do have a thread about that in the Narniaweb forum). I feel kind of dumb to bring it up, but I do tend to a make a joke (trying to be sensitive here). I bring it up because it would seem that Netflix would find a way to extend on Prince Rabadash and Susan’s interaction. So it would seem like, “Oh what if Netflix tries to find a way to put a villainous crush in every Narnia movie?” Okay maybe not every Narnia movie, because it does sound bit of a stretch.
“People seem to forget that Lewis had a wealth of material around the Narnia stories that was never published.”
Can you provide any citation for that?