Elizabeth Banks is returning once more to the director’s chair, this time for the adaptation of the bestselling YA fantasy novel Red Queen by author Victoria Aveyard, in which she will also co-star in a major supporting role. Banks will also be producing the series along with Max Handelman of their Brownstone Productions, where they are currently under an overall deal with Warner Bros. TV. Banks was actually attached to direct the project as early as 2015 when the novel was first published, but its move to Peacock bodes well for an expedited production schedule.
Although no official description has been announced yet, the YA fantasy novel Red Queen is set in a world divided into two sects — Red for the commoners, Silver for the elite that rules over them with their superpowers. The main character is 17-year-old Mare Barrow, a Red commoner who discovers that she has a superpower similar to those of the Silver elite. Adopted by the Silver so that they may control her power, she secretly works with the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, to take down the Silver regime. If I were to guess which supporting role Banks would take on, it would certainly be Elara Merandus, the queen of Norta. I’m picturing the drama and flair of The Hunger Games’ Effie Trinket, with some more mysterious stoicism and regal glamour.
Aveyard and writer Beth Schwartz are also attached as co-writers and showrunners. Schwartz previously served as the showrunner for Arrow’s seventh and eighth season on the CW, as well as contributing as a consulting producer to Legends of Tomorrow. This bodes well for the adaptation of Red Queen, as Schwartz has proven that she can successfully helm shows that are adapted from a previous source material and that are targeted towards younger audiences.
Peacock is smart to nab up this potentially lucrative IP, especially since the rights to popular YA series are becoming more and more in demand. Netflix just released their adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone to critical and commercial success, as well as their trilogy adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street novels later this summer. Additionally, Hulu has entered the YA fantasy battle with their upcoming adaptation of Sarah J. Maas‘s A Court of Thorns and Roses from Outlander showrunner Ronald D. Moore.
Red Queen will also mark Banks‘ first foray back into directing since her reboot of Charlie’s Angels with Kristen Stewart in 2019. While she has not directed for television before, she has served as executive producer on a number of shows, including Hulu’s critical darling Shrill. She is also attached to play the fashion icon and science lover Ms. Frizzle in the live-action adaptation of The Magic School Bus. She is currently filming Call Jane, a historical drama about abortion from Carol screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, as well as a slew of other projects under her Brownstone Productions banner.