Among all the madness of this year's San Diego Comic-Con, at which we were given an exclusive first look at DC's Wonder Woman and the surprisingly funny Justice League, one new trailer drop flew somewhat under the radar.
But considering that, by this time next year, American Gods has a strong shot at being your next big TV obsession, you should really hop aboard the train now. Of course, if you want to go into the Starz series totally blind, you should probably exit the tab right about now. Otherwise, heed the spoiler warning and read on to find out exactly why this long-overdue adaption of an extremely bold fantasy is going to make a major impact when it hits in 2017.
First, let's talk about exactly what American Gods is, and also what it isn't. What it is is a fantasy series set in a world which looks pretty much like our own, but is in fact ruled by two factions of Gods, the old and the new.
The powers of the Gods are essentially gifted by thoughtform, which means that they retain their power for as long as people believe in them. Unfortunately for the old Gods, that power is waning as modern society's worship of the new Gods (who represent the internet, media, money etc.) grows in strength.
Only the first third of Neil Gaiman's novel has been adapted by Starz as Season 1 of the TV show, with Gaiman providing more material to beef up the story. Essentially, Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane), the God of knowledge and wisdom, embarks on a road trip with our protagonist, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), to round up the old Gods in advance of the inevitable war with the new.
Check out the first trailer from Comic-Con below.
There's a lot of pressure on Starz to get this right — Gaiman's book is considered one of the greatest fantasy novels of the 21st century — but everything points to American Gods becoming one of next year's most hyped TV shows.
The trailer almost has the feel of a Western, albeit one in which the dead return to life dressed in lingerie while men smash hammers around the heads of bulls. Even putting that insanity to one side, on a purely aesthetic level Gods looks like a televisual wet dream.
One particularly memorable scene in the book involves Bilquis, the Goddess of erotic love (played here by Yetide Badaki), eating a man with her vagina — and you'd best believe the TV series is going to deliver that sequence exactly as it occurs on the page. It's just one example of how stunningly surreal Gaiman's work is, and how the show might create the kind of hype to rival Game of Thrones.
Now for the isn't of what American Gods is: It isn't like anything else on television. Although fantasy, it's not visually aligned with what the average viewer might expect from a fantasy series, and the fact that a road trip will be stretched across an entire season could mean that narratively it's just too weird for some audiences. It also has some big ideas about religion and hero worship which might be a little out-there for some tastes. But that's okay.
What Starz has here is a chance to do serious justice to one of the great American novels of the past twenty years, and the early omens are pretty damn good.
American Gods Season 1 debuts on Starz early 2017.