Within the first scene of new Prime Video series “Citadel,” Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden have a conversation that flits from English to Mandarin to German to Spanish and finally, back to English.
It’s a flashy exchange that establishes the intelligence and worldliness of the secret agents they are portraying. But it is also a statement of intent from the series, indicating the radical ambition of the project the creative team is embarking upon.
Executive produced by Joe and Anthony Russo – the directors of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” – the plan is to make this six-part spy thriller a launchpad for a series of international spinoffs, breaking geographical and language barriers for the streamer.
Chopra Jonas – the star of over 50 Bollywood films – told CNN, “What we’re trying to do has never been attempted – in TV, features, long-form, short-form, anything. The show is uniquely global.”
“It’s not just about casting a few people who look different. It’s actually taking the show into cultures, into language and seeping it in that and then pulling on threads that kind of bind all the shows together.”
Prime Video has announced two spinoffs – one set in India, and one in Italy – have already been commissioned, both written and produced by local teams and filmed in local languages.
“As someone who has worked in non-English language material in the past, and has hoped to have that material transcend languages via subtitles or dubbing, living in a world now where streamers are giving people that kind of access around the world is amazing,” she continued.
For Madden, who made his name with star turns in prestige TV series “Game of Thrones” and “Bodyguard,” the ambition of the show is a sign the small screen is closing the gap with Hollywood.
“I like the fact that we ask more of an audience now,” he said. “That you can’t (be) on a tablet or on your phone while you’re watching this, because you’re going to miss something really important.”
“Let’s go bigger; let’s go more complicated. Our show jumps between timelines, we both play multiple versions of ourselves. I think that’s kind of what’s exciting about TV now – people have had a lot of great content, and we need to up the game.”
Given the international scope of the world Prime Video hopes to create, it’s no surprise they have turned to two titans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to steer the ship.
The Russo brothers were at the helm of four films in Marvel’s “Infinity Saga,” culminating in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame,” which grossed over $2.98 billion, making it the second most successful film of all time in the box office.
Joe Russo told CNN, “We like surprising ourselves with what we do next. We’re not interested in trying the same thing over and over, which is why we’ve jumped around between comedies and dramas, film and television. We’ll play in any format.”
“We also believe in global storytelling. There are very few things that bind us together in this increasingly divisive world, and stories are one of them.”
“Citadel” is available of Prime Video from April 28.