George R.R. Martin's Superhero Franchise Wild Cards Is Coming to Hulu

The cover of the upcoming Low Chicago, one of several Wild Cards books.
The cover of the upcoming Low Chicago, one of several Wild Cards books.
Image: Tor Books

Most people know George R.R. Martin for his A Song of Ice and Fire series, better known as Game of Thrones. But that’s just one of the author’s universes. Another that he curates and edits is about to get the same treatment from another major provider. And it stars superheroes.


It’s called Wild Cards and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu is near a deal to secure the rights to the franchise, which has been around since 1987 and contains 27 books (and counting). It’s “a shared universe of anthologies, mosaic novels and stand-alone stories written by a collection of authors and edited by Martin and co-editor Melinda Snodgrass.”

In the world of Wild Cards, a deadly virus was spread across the world in 1946. Most people died but those who survived either mutated or magically had superpowers. Now, decades later, the virus still exists and manifests itself later in life. So people don’t know if they are going to become the jokers, and mutate—or become the aces, and get super powers.

Syfy Films bought the rights to the franchise back in 2011 (the same year Game of Thrones debuted on HBO) hoping to make a movie. Five years later, when that didn’t happen, Universal Cable Productions took over with an eye on making multiple TV shows set in the universe. That’s what’s happening now. Plus, it sounds like Hulu wants this to be a multimedia franchise—a big name series to compete with Netflix’s upcoming Chronicles of Narnia content and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings content.

This is a franchise that, over 30 years, has developed a whole legion of fans and creators. That alone makes it a world well worth adapting into live action.

Correction: It’s the Song of Ice and Fire, not Fire and Ice. That change has been made.

Entertainment Reporter. NYU Cinema Studies Alum. Formerly Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and /Film. AP Award-Winning Film Critic & CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.



With that said, that’s kind of a weird way to describe it. Xenovirus Takis-A, the Wildcard Virus, treats everyone the same way. Originally designed to create superpowers, it mutates its victims in a vast array of ways that are probably influenced by the victim’s subconscious. The only difference between someone who pulls the Black Queen (immediate death), Joker (deformity), or Ace (superpower) is how survivable, powerful, and/or disgusting the mutation is. In other words, our own prejudices. That’s why we have subcategories like Deuces (useless superpowers, such as changing the color of a balloon) and Joker-Ace (a powerful ability accompanied by a deformity).

It’s spelled out early on in the books that Peregrine is only considered an Ace because she’s beautiful and talented and famous. Otherwise she’d be a Joker or Joker-Ace (since she can fly, though the power is actually telekinetic instead of from her wings).