The next year offers no shortage of television shows to look forward; from the shows premiering soon, like HBO’s Westworld, to the shows still on the horizon, like Netflix’s Iron Fist. One such series that has garnered much buzz or anticipation is Starz’s American Gods. The series, based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, has been on the forefront of minds of both fans of the author and TV in general, and the excitement has been palpable for months. All this, without even a firm premiere date beyond the nebulous 2017.
There’s still quite a bit we don’t know about the upcoming series from Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller. Even with all the buzz and excitement, we’ve only seen a handful of photos and a brief trailer to give us insight into what to expect as Gaiman’s seminal work is brought to life. We know that Ricky Whittle (The 100) stars as Shadow Moon, a human who gets drawn into a world of gods thanks to his association with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, played by Ian McShane (Deadwood). As Mr. Wednesday’s partner, Shadow Moon discovers a world where the gods of old are at the brink of war with the new gods that have risen to take their place. While we can infer quite a bit about the series from its literary forebear, specifics about how the story will unfold on the screen have been kept largely secret. Now, however, we have a bit more insight.
Nerdist News went deep with the cast and crew of American Gods and discovered that the series will follow a path somewhat different from the novel that inspired it. Far from being a true diverging, however, Nerdist reports that the series will not only cull from the near 600-page edition of Gaiman’s text, but also from the author’s character and plot notes, many of which either didn’t make it in, or were merely alluded, to in the novel.
According to Nerdist, much of the expanded story will follow the tales of how the Old Gods came to dwell on American soil. While the novel does tell the stories of how gods like Kristin Chenowith’s Easter and Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy left their original homes for our shores, the series is expected to dive even deeper into these character backstories to create a richer, more full universe.
Additionally, Nerdist reports that Pablo Schreiber’s (Orange is the New Black) bar owning, hard fighting leprechaun Mad Sweeney will have a much larger role in the series than he did in the books. This might mean that Sweeney gets a “coming to America” plot of his own, wherein it’s explained how and why a mythical creature who’s not a god put down roots in America.
While purists may scoff at the prospect of changes being made from book to screen, it’s important to realize that the new plot additions are, at least in part, coming from Gaiman himself. As mentioned above, Fuller and co-showrunner Michael Green are weaving in elements that Gaiman created but didn’t include. This will allow for richer, more fully realized universe for Fuller and Green to build on.
This is in line with what Fuller has previously said about his vision for the series. Fuller hinted at his desires to create an MCU inspired shared universe from American Gods. Late last year, the show runner said:
“Potentially what we’re looking at with American Gods is developing a Marvel Universe, not with superheroes but with gods. As detailed and integrated as the Marvel Universe is, and doing that with deities is something that excited all of us.”
Though Fuller also conceded that they do not yet have the rights to make American Gods spinoff novel Anansi Boys, which follows Mr. Nancy and his family, he did state that they hoped to acquire them soon. Beyond that, given the depth already included in the original novel, as well as Gaiman’s world building notes, the opportunities and possibilities for spinoffs seem endless.
In order to do that, however, the show needs to have a rich mythology from which to build. The MCU works largely thanks to the near endless supply of stories embedded in the mythos. The films build off established lore and go in their own direction, and we’ve all seen how successful that can be. In that regard, Fuller could do worse than emulating that strategy. Expanding the story of American Gods not only allows for further world building to develop, it provides a foundation from which additional stories can be told, taking us deeper and deeper into the worlds of the Old and New Gods.
American Gods is set to premiere sometime in 2017.