Anthony Pantalone, Editor
Header Image credit: Amazon Studios
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, I had the opportunity to attend a trailer launch event for the Prime Video television show “Citadel” during which executive producers Joe and Anthony Russo, stars Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and showrunner David Weil all were in attendance and spoke. “Citadel” will stand as a first-of-its-kind spy show that will branch off into international spin-off shows set around different countries—two series currently being planned for India and Italy. The story takes place eight years after the secret international spy agency Citadel had fallen to the forces of an evil shadow organization called Manticore and follows Mason Kane—played by Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Eternals)—and Nadia Sinh—played by Priyanka Chopra (Quantico, Baywatch)—two former Citadel operatives that had since lost their memories of their prior lives as spies. When Manticore attempts to assert a new world order, Bernard Orlick—played by Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Easy A)—brings Mason and Nadia back together on a mission that forces them to not only travel the globe but also face their shared history.
Bringing Big-Budget Action to Television
The show represents a much-celebrated return to television for the Russo Brothers, who had first established themselves on shows like Arrested Development and Community before eventually directing colossal box office record-breaking hits like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. These directors now get to carry over their experience with big action set pieces and skilled action filmmaking into the television world as these executive producers stated that they wished to bring cutting-edge action-oriented storytelling to streaming with this show. Richard Madden echoes this sentiment by describing the nature of the show’s action. For him, this show is clearly divided into 50 percent drama and 50 percent action—a departure from most shows which are 80 percent drama and 20 percent action. Citadel carefully infuses its action set pieces with heart and drama for this actor. Chopra builds upon Madden’s statement by remarking on how the action in a scene is often tied to how that character feels in a given moment.
This show is being marketed as a landmark international initiative in television—a franchise that intends to interact directly with audiences in multiple countries across the world. While the main “Citadel” series was shot in locations spanning the United States, Valencia in Spain, Morocco, and London, spin-off shows set in India and Italy in the same universe are currently in production. The Indian and Italian “Citadel” series will then interweave with the main show at different times—with characters from each series at times appearing in another region’s “Citadel” show. These branches of the franchise will be in the languages of the region and will be made by cast and crew from that country. This initiative will celebrate the international filmmaking community in countries outside the United States and show how film and television are truly global mediums for art. For Joe Russo, the show represented a unique opportunity to make a global diverse group of storytellers crafting a narrative together. The Russo Brothers thus jumped at this opportunity to be executive producers for “Citadel” due to their love for the international film community and the globe-spanning ambitions for the show. They also emphasize that everyone invited in from various countries and regions hold equal weight of importance to the story and franchise. The recent rise in popularity of non-English films affords the ability of Amazon Studios and the creatives involved to create a television universe and a long-form narrative that transcends national borders and oceans with “Citadel”. Priyanka Chopra emphasized this point as she likened Citadel to a “social experience” in which the Indian, Italian, and American storylines will intersect and blend into each other in this franchise—perhaps allowing the regional audiences for each show to overlap.
One of the biggest selling points of this show emphasized during the launch event was the originality of “Citadel”. While theaters and streaming services are overwhelmingly populated with films and shows of preexisting IP (intellectual property), this program intends to bring something wholly original to audiences. An original IP means a brand new original story that is not being adapted or remade for the screen. There is no existing or old property with a built-in audience or following being used here, and this fact was exciting for everyone involved in the show. Anthony Russo credited Amazon for being willing to try something this large and expansive with a new IP. For the Russos and showrunner David Weil, being able to create something from scratch was a thrilling experience. For Weil, this opportunity “gave him license to dream” and not be tied down to any type of source material. It also aided in the global nature of the shows as they can work with the “Citadel” teams in other regions like India and Italy and easily change things.
Here is the official trailer:
The first two episodes of “Citadel” premiere on Prime Video on Apr. 28, with episodes releasing weekly on the streaming service through May 26.