Netflix announces The Witcher — could this be a trend?

If you like to see monster hunters in Eastern-European-inspired settings, Netflix has got you covered. Quite apart from the trailer for the new Castlevania series, the streaming giant also announced in May that it would be bringing a show based on Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher saga to the screen. The series will be co-produced with Polish production house Platige Image. Other than that, we don’t know very much about the show: we know that The Expanse producers Sean Daniel and Jason Brown are set to executive produce along with Tomas Baginski and Jarek Sawko.

Most people are familiar with the Witcher stories through the popular video game series, but the stories actually date back over 30 years. There was even a 13-episode television series on Polish TV back in 2002. It hasn’t held up as well as it might have, but it’s definitely interesting watching for fans of the series.

Of course, by fans of the series I mainly mean fans of the video games, which is how most people in the English-speaking world will be familiar with the property. The Witcher series has established a reputation for its rich, gritty setting and gameplay. Although the new series is supposed to be based on the books rather than on the video games, it’s no coincidence that Baginski, who directed the opening videos of the games, is slated to produce. For most people, the Witcher stories are primarily video-game stories.

That being the case, we’re looking not just at two series about monster hunters from Eastern Europe, but two series about monster hunters from Eastern Europe based, at least in part, on video games. This is an interesting situation: there haven’t been very many successful TV series based on video games (have there been any?). There certainly have been any successful ones targeted toward adult viewers, which everything we hear about The Witcher leads us to think the show is.

From a comic fan’s perspective, this is interesting. A few decades ago, comic books were in much the same position that video games are currently in. There were plenty of kids’ shows based on comics, but more successful live-action programs were few and far between. Partly this was the result of a widespread cultural perception that comic were kid stuff and that live-action productions based on them were usually trash. There were some exceptions, of course, but they were few and far between.

That was then, of course. Now, comic movies dominate the big screen and there are more DC Comics shows on television alone than it’s really possible to keep up with, to say nothing of all other publishers. That’s interesting because the situation video games are currently in matches where comics used to be. So what happened? A lot of things, but one of them was that the generations that grew up reading and loving comic books found themselves in a position to actually make decisions about what sorts of films and TV shows get made.

Well, isn’t the same thing true of video games now? The next few years might be about to get very interesting.

About James Holloway

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