George R.R. Martin’s Superhero Series Wild Cards Gets TV Adaptation

UCP has agreed to adapt the thirty-year-old series for television

There’s a certain formula nowadays if you’d like your story to get adapted for television or film— and since I was never good at math, I’ll keep the formula as simple as it seems to me: write science fiction, fantasy, or comics. For every James Franco lit.-fic. adaptation, there are ten more gut-busting, epic, or pulpy comic/SF/fantasy adaptations. We can add another adaptation to this list: Wild Cards, which will be the second adaptation of a George R. R. Martin universe after Game of Thrones.

George R.R. Martin released an announcement on his livejournal that the long-running science fiction universe he helped create and curates, Wild Cards, has been picked up by Universal Cable Productions for a television adaptation. This news should remind — or otherwise inform — the post-Song of Fire and Ice world that Martin is more than just the Game of Thrones inspire-er.

Wild Cards has been around for nearly thirty years and has bubbled just beneath the surface of explosive popularity for a while. The first edition of Wild Cards (1986) was a finalist for that year’s Hugo Award, losing out to the since-already-canonized Watchmen — no shame in that at all. So, it’s got critical acclaim and a dedicated audience, but what exactly is Wild Cards and what is its premise? In George R.R. Martin’s own words:

“Wild Cards is a series of books, graphic novels, games… but most of all it is a universe, as large and diverse and exciting as the comic book universes of Marvel and DC (though somewhat grittier, and considerably more realistic and more consistent), with an enormous cast of characters both major and minor.”

Alex Riviello of synoptically describes the plot (which Martin, his “right-hand man” Melinda M. Snodgrass, and others have meticulously crafted in order to avoid the continuity issues that have proven so problematic for many DC/Marvel adaptations):

“the story presents an alternate history of our world that diverted from ours on September 15, 1946. On that day an alien illness known as the Wild Card virus was released in Manhattan and spread over the entire Earth. Anyone who was infected didn’t have a good chance at making it, as 90% died horribly (drawing a Black Queen, in the terms of the series), while a further 9% were known as Jokers and mutated into horrible shapes or gained minor powers. The 1%, or Aces, became blessed with amazing powers of all types, and superheroes roamed the world.”

Martin has primarily worked as the editor of the series, with a litany of other writers helping create/write these books over the past three decades — the series being self-described by Martin as, “anthologies and mosaic novels.”

UCP has previous experience with sci-fi shows, most recently producing the award-winning Mr. Robot and the well-received Colony. The future looks bright for Wild Cards and we should see the show soon, though as Martin says, “Hollywood is Hollywood and nothing is ever certain in development…”

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