Netflix recently began streaming its big blockbuster Bright, and it hasn’t been entirely well received by critics. The action film is set in a modern fantasy world where elves, humans, and orcs live alongside one another, but it only alluded to the larger world that drives much of the story. To help fill in those gaps, Netflix released a short video that highlights all of the history of the world that would have made the story a bit more comprehensible.
Bright might not have been great film, but it did introduce viewers to an intriguing fantasy world; it just didn’t explain any of it. The movie follows a human police officer and his orc partner after they discover a magic wand, and fight to escape with their lives from various criminal gangs and cults that want to get their hands on it. This quasi-documentary helps answer a bunch of questions that the film left behind.
In short, magic was once prevalent throughout the world — ancient villages each had a wizard, and used for good. But in 2600 BCE, an Egyptian pharaoh used magic to build the pyramids, setting off a sort of magical arms race that resulted in even more powerful magicians. The clip goes on to talk about the creation of magical wands, the rise of the Dark Lord hinted at in the film, and the efforts to defeat him.
But this backstory is also plagued with some of the same flaws that accompanied the film: incongruities with an alternate world and the familiar history of our own. Magic was apparently banned in the 1800s, and it shoehorns in things like the Stone Henge to the Taj Mahal, to the first atomic weapons in 1945. It doesn’t all make sense in explaining the fantastical world with the more modern version we saw.
The answers that the short video provides are really useful if you watched the film — it provides some context for the world building that was frustratingly glossed over as Will Smith and Joel Edgerton raced from gunfight to gunfight. Hopefully, whatever future Netflix has envisioned for this franchise will take a bit more time to explore the world a bit more. In the meantime, these answers are better than none.