HBO’s quest to replicate the success of Game of Thrones continues, as Westworld never reached the same highs—but hit many of the same lows—and His Dark Materials never really caught on (they insist that people watch it, but do they? No one talks about it). Next up to the plate is The Nevers, the once and future show from Joss Whedon who suddenly and mysteriously exited the project late last year for reasons that have nothing to do with Ray Fisher’s allegations of on-set abusive behavior, I’m sure. The Nevers is due to drop on HBO Max in April, and the first trailer has been released. It looks like no one is going to watch this show, either. Better luck next time, HBO. Maybe your Game of Thrones prequel will be your next Game of Thrones.
It’s nothing against the cast and crew of The Nevers—it LOOKS gorgeous, though I maintain that average mass audiences don’t like the steampunk aesthetic (see also: the failure of all steampunk-styled movies and TV shows). This strongly reminds me of the similarly Victorian-and-magic themed Carnival Row, another show no one watches, which is not a good sign. My main issue with this trailer is that The Nevers looks like room temperature leftovers after decades of superhero stories. Oh, it’s special ladies with magic powers but some people hate them? Great, you’ve just described two decades of X-Men movies. And the special ladies have to recruit other special ladies to help them win their cause? Why yes, I have seen The Avengers. The main draw for The Nevers appears to be just that it centers on women, but then, so does Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And frankly, after decades of Whedon television shows, I have to ask: which of these characters is the sexy one with the baby brain? There is ALWAYS a sexy one with a baby brain.
Will I give The Nevers a chance? Sure. I don’t expect to be vaccinated by April, so I will still be stuck inside with little to do. And if by some chance it DOES win me over, I promise to tell you all about it. But I am very iffy just based on this trailer. It establishes the world: something happened, some people, mostly women, it seems, were “touched” and now have powers, some people hate them for being different—again, this is just the X-Men in Victorian England—the main ladies are here to save the day. But…WHY? What do they need saving FROM? Is it just the ominous dude with the lovely voice? There’s not enough sense of the conspiracy at play. After two complete X-Men trilogies, plus two stunted off-shoots (Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants), the idea of a world that hates magic people is just not going to cut it. You have to do more than that, we’ve seen this already. A bunch of times. Maybe a second trailer will give a better sense of the characters and story of The Nevers, but based on this trailer it just looks like the X-Men in Victorian clothes, and that’s not enough.