'American Gods' is Like the Marvel Universe, 'But With Gods,' Fuller Says

To explain his approach to adapting Neil Gaiman's bestselling fantasy novel "American Gods" for Starz, Bryan Fuller has to look no further than the Marvel Universe.

"[W]hat we’re looking at with 'American Gods' is developing a Marvel Universe, not with superheroes but with gods," the co-showrunner tells Crave. "As detailed and integrated as the Marvel Universe is, and doing that with deities is something that excited all of us."

“American Gods” is built on the premise that deities and figures of myth and folklore exist only because people believe in them. The novel follows an ex-convict named Shadow Moon who, upon early release from prison after his wife is killed in a car crash, is hired to be the bodyguard of a mysterious con man named Wednesday. However, it’s soon revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of All-Father Odin, who’s traveling America recruiting his fellow forgotten deities to wage an epic battle against the new American gods — manifestations of modern life and technology, like Internet, media and credit cards.

While Gaiman's book prominently features old gods who have been supplanted by more modern beliefs, it doesn't depict contemporary organized religion. But Fuller indicates the Starz adaptation will delve into that arena.

"Oh yeah, we get into Jesus and the big God as well," he says. "You know, so much of the book is exploring the more marginalized gods who are struggling to make their way in modern America without the strength of the believers that, say, Jesus and Buddha and Easter might have because of their public personas. So it wasn’t necessarily a part of the novel but ideally what our goal would be with this series -- mine, Michael Green’s, Neil Gaiman’s -- would be that the book 'American Gods' is actually the 'Reader’s Digest' version of the story."

He also suggests there could even be multiple versions of Jesus, saying, "Oh, there’s as many Jesuses as there are cultures that believe in Jesus."

David Slade will direct the pilot, which is expected to premiere in 2017 on Starz.

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