The epic saga of Elric, the White Wolf and the last emperor of Melniboné has been optioned for television. Deadline reports that New Republic Pictures’ Brian Oliver and producer Bradley J. Fischer have acquired the rights Michael Moorcock’s The Elric Saga. They’ve begun shopping the property around as a series. The Walking Dead and The Shield’s Glen Mazzara and Prison Break and Star Trek: Discovery’s Vaun Wilmott are attached to helm the adaptation. As the report notes, this news comes at a time when cable networks and streaming services are scrambling to find a show to fill the dark fantasy-shaped hole left behind by the end of Game of Thrones.
“Glen, Vaun, Brian and I all grew up on the iconic works of genre masters like Michael Moorcock, and the Elric Saga is among the most influential titles in the canon of fantasy-horror storytelling,” said Fischer. “We feel privileged to have been entrusted by Mike and Linda Moorcock with a character and narrative universe as rich and diverse as Elric, and hope to deliver to generations of fans the enthralling experience they’ve been demanding for so many years from these masterworks of genre literature.”
HBO will return to the world of Westeros with the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon. Netflix will pin its hope on The Witcher starring Henry Cavill, which launches in December. Amazon Prime Video is splitting its bets, developing a television series based on JRR Tolkien’s seminal Lord of the Rings and another show based on Robert Jordan’s popular Wheel of Time series. A number of other fantasy series based on properties ranging from Earthsea to The Broken Earth are in development at various networks.
Moorcock’s Elric Saga chronicles the adventures of the titular hero, who presided over an empire of dragon-riders and sorcerers during its dying days. Elric is in many ways the template for the modern antihero. More cunning and fond of dark powers than Tolkien’s chivalrous heroes, and more cunning than Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, the sickly-looking, albino emperor relied on his cursed blade Stormbringer, his knowledge of sorcery, his wits, and his patron, the Chaos Lord Arioch, to defeat his foes.
Elric could be the cornerstone of a larger franchise if all goes well. Moorcock’s novella The Sundered Worlds helped establish the concept of a fictional multiverse that so many pop culture properties, Marvel and DC Comics among them, take for granted today. Elric exists in such a multiverse, one incarnation of the Eternal Champion. Other incarnations include some of Moorcock’s other fantasy heroes, including Hawkmoon, Corum, and the much more modern Jerry Cornelius.
Moorcock is considered one of the greatest writers of fantasy fiction of all time, though his works have never penetrated the popular culture in the United States to the same degree they have in his native United Kingdom. In addition to developing a seminal antihero and pioneering the idea of the multiverse, he’s also credited with being one of the progenitors of the steampunk genre through his novel The Warlord of the Air, another adventure connected to his Eternal Champion.