This month, Netflix released Bright, it's first blockbuster movie. Bright is set in a fictional alternate world wherein magic exists and orcs, elves, and humans live side by side in the modern world. However, that doesn't mean that prejudice still doesn't exist and Bright examines this mostly through the interactions between Will Smith's cop and his new partner, Nick, the first orc policeman. It's a fantastical setting and while the movie itself doesn't have much time to devote to telling hundreds of years worth of backstory, Netflix has released a handy feature explaining the history of magic in the film's world.
One of the charms of Bright is its setting and the potential of its world-building. It's a world much like ours except that, you know, magic is real and orcs like burritos as much as the next guy. Ultimately, Bright can only pay lip service to a lot of its world-building, only mentioning dark lords and prophecies for as long as it takes to get to the next set piece. It's a bit disappointing, but Netflix has got fantasy diehards covered with a new video featurette that explains the history of magic in the world of Bright. Shot like a documentary filmed by Ken Burns that you'd find on PBS, the video goes all the way back to ancient Egypt to explain magic and the ancient conflict that sparks the events in the movie.
As someone who watched Bright, a lot of information in this video is news to me. Pretty much the whole first half is never alluded to in Bright, though, they do mention the Dark Lord and the bit about the three wands. They don't, however, explain that he got magic powers from carving a wand from the corpse of an all-powerful, quasi-immortal wizard who died of magic cancer. It almost feels like this is from an entirely different movie!
It's all interesting stuff, but it also illuminates just how little effort Bright puts into its world-building. Some of this history is mentioned but it's not given any time or weight to have much meaning. Bright is a buddy cop film first and foremost, but it's still a shame to see that it didn't capitalize on most of its fantasy aspects. The blockbuster didn't impress critics much, but audiences seem to be much more forgiving of Bright. 11 million people reportedly tuned in to watch Bright in the first three days of its release on Netflix and a sequel has already been greenlit, so let's hope Bright 2 can address any of these criticisms.