With the massive success of Game of Thrones, last week’s Los Angeles premiere of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon (2022) and rumours of a Marvel collaboration. Author and creator George R.R Martin found himself at a new career peak.
Premiering last Thursday in Los Angeles, the Thrones Saga prequel, House Of The Dragon, which stars Matt Smith, Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke and Emma D’Arcy, with many critics left captivated and in awe of George R.R Martin’s prequel spectacle.
With the original Game Of Thrones final season causing quite the controversy with its rushed ending and lack of closure, fans have been left apprehensive following the announcement of the prequel. Many left uncertain as to whether or not HBO had turned the series from a powerhouse fantasy epic into yet another cash cow franchise.
Now, it seems, following the first wave of critic reviews, that Martin and HBO are back in business. The story-telling business that is. And what’s more important, is that this time. They’re serious. With critics calling the show a vibrant psychological successor.
In the midst of House Of The Dragon’s promotional campaign, George R.R Martin has been keeping busy, penning what is to be, the sixth novel in the ongoing Thrones Saga. Titled, The Winds of Winter.
Never satisfied with just one project at a time, Martin has always had a habit of planning his stories and work months and years ahead. He may only be working on the sixth instalment at the moment, but Martin can guarantee, in his mind and notebooks, he’s already on the ninth.
Opening up to The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive cover shoot. The 73-year-old fantasy phenom shared his wider ambitions with the franchise and how in due time, he hopes for it to expand exponentially, in the same way, the Disney Marvel Universe has.
“The MCU has The Avengers, but they also have something offbeat like WandaVision. That’s what I hope we can do with these other Game of Thrones shows, so we can have a variety that showcases the history of this world. There are only so many times you can do a competition for the Iron Throne.”– Martin says.
With Marvel Comics being founded in 1939, it’s had essentially almost a whole century to build an international fanbase. With the comics being increasingly successful since the first publication in October of 1939. It’s a very tough ask from Martin, wanting his Thrones franchise to be as successful and as extensive as the Marvel Universe.
With each side story and new character that Martin references, Wandavision (2021), for example, the whole mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sub-genres change to bring viewers a refreshing viewing experience that ultimately matches the personalities of the featured characters.
As well as that, Disney and Marvel, now global media elites, can cast high-profiled actors drawing in wider demographics, and ultimately elevating their marketing campaigns. Martin’s work, on the other hand, finds itself more limited to Fantasy tropes and period drama cinematography.
On top of that, HBO and the Thrones saga, haven’t been known for their high-profile ensemble casts. The franchise instead, is responsible for promoting and kick-starting actors’ careers. It wouldn’t make sense for HBO to all of a sudden modernise a Throne piece with high-octane flashy editing, contemporary soundtracks and shifting mise-en-scene. Unfortunately for Martin, it’s not always a one glove fits all approach with franchises. But we have to at least, praise his ambition.
Whilst Game Of Thrones has blown up magnificently since its debut back in 2011. To say its fanbase and outside demographics would be wanted to watch four or fix different series, revolving around the same throne seems a stretch of the imagination. Especially if they’re all to fall within the same time frames.
What made the original Game Of Thrones successful after all, was its originality. To oversaturate the TV industry with a handful of period fantasy pieces would eventually be like beating a dead horse. Especially without the century-long fanbase and reputation the likes of Marvel have.
“Sometimes I sit around trying to figure out who the hell I am in this whole scenario. Am I George Lucas? … Am I Stan Lee? How do I relate to this IP? … [by the end, Stan Lee] had no power, no influence. He wasn’t writing any stories. He couldn’t say, ‘Don’t do this character’. He was just a friendly person they brought to conventions and who did cameos. To be sidelined on the world and characters that you created, that would be tough.”
Creating an intriguing and captivating fantasy odyssey is most definitely where Martin’s strong suits lie. Comparisons, not so much. Stan Lee, had by choice, signed multi-million dollar deals with Entertainment companies which had him seated on the back of the bus. Ultimately by no choice other than his own.
Stan Lee, contrary to Martin’s interpretation, was incredibly proud and honoured for the role he played in all Marvel projects and promotional campaigns. After all, he was a storyteller, who at one stage in his life, never expected his comics to make it to the big screen.
George R.R Martin, on the other hand, seems like one, more driven by ego, and more protective of his work and his interpretation on screen than many others. While there is huge potential for the Thrones saga and the stories Martin has on the back burner. It is often best, to be yourself, far from comparisons and imitations. Martin is certainly no Lucas or a Lee.
Lucas created the Star Wars trilogy with a shoe-string budget, driven by a passion for his idea, he produced the original three instalments rather than directing. And with the production quality of the original trilogy standing the age of time, Lucas and co’s Star Wars is a cinematic triumph and achievement often forgotten.
Martin had the help of HBO, arguably America’s most prolific and long-running high esteemed Box Office company, that from day 1, has been producing exclusive high-budget television masterpieces.
While George R.R Martin may share storytelling similarities with the latter, and have the knack for creating phantasmic microcosms, but he rightly sits on his own pedestal. Far from the comparison of such names. Lee had mastered the art of storytelling through multiple genres and eras whilst Lucas had succeeded himself as a Sci-fi pioneer and triumphant writer with his scripts for Indiana Jones (1981), American Graffiti (1973) and THX 1138 (1971), to name a few. Martin, on the other hand, has only mastered one realm of storytelling, that of the Thrones universe.
With House Of The Dragon, premiering with well-received reviews, it is still early days in regards to whether or not the franchise holds the same potential and entertainment quality the Marvel Universe has.
With House of The Dragon set to premiere on August 21. It’ll be up to the fans’ reception, whether or not Martin’s dream stands a chance.
Will the story of the Targaryen Civil War be as successful as Thrones’ original premise? Or will it be just enough to wash away the bad taste left in fans’ mouths, that was Thrones’ anticlimactic final series.
It looks like you’re just going to have to tune in to HBO on August 21, if you want to find out.