Iorek Bernison in His Dark Materials

Iorek Bernison in His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy of HBO.

It’s San Diego Comic Con, and everyone’s dropping shiny new trailers, shows, and information. This includes the HBO/BBC upcoming series, His Dark Materials, which is an adaptation of the extraordinarily popular fantasy book trilogy of the same name by Philip Pullman. Fans may remember the poorly received 2007 feature film The Golden Compass, which adapted the first book. Now HBO and the BBC are hoping to get it right, and that an expensive, prestigious television series is the way to go. With a tentative release date in Fall 2019, the networks aired the first full trailer for the series during Thursday night’s panel. The trailer has everybody talking and excited for the new series, while the panel itself also had some very memorable quotes from the show’s stars and creators.

Some fan-favorite moments from the panel are: Ruth Wilson saying that she decided she had to play the character Mrs. Marisa Coulter when she read the character described as “the mother of all evil” and “the cesspit of moral filth;” Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Lee Scoresby, telling the audience that he read these books with his wife when they first started dating, and also saying that his first scene is him singing a duet with his daemon; the show’s creator Jack Thorne positing that the thesis of the show is about following your own goodness; Dafne Keen (Logan) who plays the lead, Lyra, saying that the relationship you have with your daemon reflects on your relationship with yourself.

So, what is His Dark Materials about, and what are daemons? The book takes place in an alternate universe where everything in the world is controlled by an authoritarian church called the Magisterium. The story follows Lyra, an orphan living at Oxford who sets out on a quest to search for her missing friend, who it turns out is part of a trend of missing children, which is related to the appearance of a substance called Dust. In this world, everyone has a daemon. A daemon is a physical manifestation of your soul outside of your body that takes the shape of an animal. So, Lyra’s daemon is a mouse named Pan, while the sinister Mrs. Coulter’s is a monkey. “I’m pretty cruel to my daemon,” said Wilson about her character at the panel. “And in return my daemon is pretty cruel to other people.” Daemons can talk and can’t separate very far from their people, but Mrs. Coulter’s daemon is different in these respects for reasons we will find out once we start watching.

The trailer itself it wonderful. The highlight of the trailer is probably Iorek Bernison, an armored polar bear that Manuel’s character Lee Scoresby introduces to help Lyra on her quest. It also shows James McAvoy’s character Lord Asriel raging against the Magisterium, and Mrs. Coulter at first being kind to Lyra and taking her in, and then turning on her and being utterly cruel. After Iorek, Mrs. Coulter is the most exciting thing about this trailer, and sells herself as a very charismatic villain. It remains to be seen if the show will do true justice to the books, but this trailer is certainly promising.