Fantasy Fiction in Film in 2021

Here we go again – the midst of awards season! Admittedly, it is slightly different this year, but I have hope for being able to go to the cinema soon (soon!!!). And movies are still being made despite it all!

Each year, directors and screenwriters mine an expanding collection of fantasy novels for inspo for a new film or TV series. I made this list last year, but not many of those projecrs ended up happening, obviously, so this list is mostly overdue movies.

One thing I’m excited about for fantasy in film is the source materials filmmakers are using seems to be getting far more diverse. Rather than remaking the same old (i.e. Marvel and DC comic books), people are realising how varied the genre is!

Despite the title, I am actually also including sci-fi in this list.

House of M – Brian Michael Bendis & Olivier Coipel

(Comic) BOOK: The Scarlet Witch is out of control, and the fate of the entire world is in her hands.

I know, I know, a superhero comic. But hear me out — perhaps this doesn’t exactly belong on this list, but with all of the hype the show Wandavision is getting at the moment, I feel like I had to mention it. This graphic novel is a large part of the show’s plot and trust me, it is literally one of the best story arcs Marvel has ever done. Particularly for Scarlet Witch fans!

SHOW: WandaVision on Disney+

Do you have to read it? You don’t have to read any superhero comic books but it’s far more fun if you do.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

BOOK: Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans… Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him.

It sounds bizarre when you’re trying to explain it, but the Chaos Walking trilogy (i.e. this one), was a staple YA read for most growing up, right at the same time as The Hunger Games. I kind of feel like I had enough of dystopian teen movies back then too, but maybe they will do something different with this one.

MOVIE: This film was having trouble even before the pandemic, but somehow it’s actually releasing now. March 5th!

Do you have to read it? In my opinion, the first book is good while the other two sort of just complete the story, but they are fun and quick reads.

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

BOOK: The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite – the Grisha.

I believe this was originally meant to release end of last year, but now there is a trailer for the Netflix adaptation, you can be sure it’s finally happening! This show will be a mix of the above Grisha trilogy, as well as the Six of Crows duology, which is about six slightly criminal teens and a heist. I love the Six of Crows, but I haven’t read Shadow and Bone yet. Let’s see if I get a chance to before I’m bombarded with the show!

SHOW: eight episodes on Netflix (globally!) on April 23rd

Do you have to read the book first? Following precedent from Netflix’s wide array of book adaptations, highly unlikely. But I’m going to! (Hopefully!)

Dune – Frank Herbert

BOOK: Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

The ‘Dune’ series, its first book published in 1965, has always been considered a sci-fi classic and a masterful example of storytelling that interweaves politics, technological advancement, religion etc. I personally can’t speak to whether or not I enjoyed it, because although Amazon dutifully informs me I purchased it years ago, I have not finished it. I’m exactly halfway through!

I don’t know how keen I am for this movie, but I know many people are very excited.

MOVIE: Supposedly, the first part of this movie is coming out vaguely this year. It’s planned to have a sequel too, but maybe that’s looking too far ahead!

Do you have to read it? Probably not, unless you are keen to experience some classic science-fiction.

That’s it! There are lots of great books getting adaptations this year, but not much fantasy. This list does only include English-language film and TV, but adaptations in other languages are definitely becoming so much easier to access.

For example, you could watch Dark, a German time-travelling adventure, or even Alice in Borderland, a dystopian Japanese show about life-or-death games. The first is based on a novel, the second on a graphic novel, and both are on Netflix!

Many books and book series are also in the nebulous ‘in production’ stage, like Ciera Cass’s Selection series or Madeleine Miller’s book Circe.

I’ve read SO many completely new SF&F stories recently, I think there totally deserves to be more than this very short list. Then again, some books should not be adapted, because they’d be done terribly…

What movies or shows are you looking forward to this year? What book would you like to see adapted?

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