While most of us are still reeling from the Great Hannibal Heartbreak of 2015, Bryan Fuller is hard at work on not one, but two exciting new TV shows. Over at NBC, he’s cooking up an Amazing Stories remake series with Steven Spielberg. Meanwhile at Starz, he’s adapting Neil Gaiman‘s beloved fantasy novel American Gods to series alongside Heroes producer Michael Green as his co-showrunner. Gaiman himself will executive produce. David Slade is also on board to direct the pilot and executive produce, which is all but a guarantee that the debut episode will be a visual knockout.
In an exclusive interview with the folks over at Crave, Fuller revealed some insight into how he’s adapting and expanding on the robust source material, saying that he sees it as a Marvel universe with gods instead of superheroes. But that doesn’t mean they’re watering down the source material. Quite the contrary, it seems the folks in the writers’ room are taking it pretty seriously.
There’s conversations in the writer’s room that we are having on this show that I’ve never had in a writer’s room before, because we’re actually given the ability to talk about fate and belief, and the rules which we use to navigate society being challenged in a fashion that is not anti-religion, but not necessarily letting religion off the hook entirely…So it’s very important to us in the show to not be making fun of anybody for their religious beliefs because we all have some sort of belief-like thing in our brain that could arguably be delusional, whether it’s ghosts or gods or whatever superstition, black cats, walking under ladders, et cetera.
While they’re digging into the story and mythology of Gaiman’s book, they’re also expanding the scope and digging into organized religion — a pretty big shakeup from the text of the book, which primarily focused on the minor and forgotten gods. Indeed, Fuller says his goal is to dig so deep that the book will seem like the “Reader’s Digest version of the story”.
Oh yeah, we get into Jesus and the big God as well. You know, so much of the book is exploring the more marginalized gods who are struggling to make their way in modern America without the strength of the believers that, say, Jesus and Buddha and Easter might have because of their public personas.
That also means you can get ready for a whole lot of Jesuses…and it sound like they’re all going to meet.
Oh there’s as many Jesuses as there are cultures that believe in Jesus.
DO YOU THINK YOU’LL HAVE A SCENE WHERE THEY ALL MEET AND GET IN AN ARGUMENT?
I won’t say but stay tuned. That’s kind of your answer.
In terms of the broader plans for the series, Fuller says he envisions it as a Marvel-style shared universe with superheroes instead of gods, and while they don’t have the rights to tie in some of Gaiman’s other works (namely, Anansi Boys) that approach could mean world-building spin-offs.
[W]hat 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…In success we may have spin-offs of American Gods that follow lesser gods in greater detail than you might in the main series, but there’s all sorts of potential for this show that we’re very excited about and I hope the audience is as enthusiastic as we are so we can bring those dreams to fruition.
We’ll get to see how Fuller’s plans for a God-centric television universe shake out when American Gods arrives on Starz in 2017. But for now, it sound like they’re taking the material in fearless directions with a good sense of world-building and structure, which is really good shape to be in.