For years, of all the many films and TV shows released, the fantasy genre has been dominating the scene to a level of notoriety. We’re lovers of the magical and far-off realms that capture your attention and earn your loyalty. Fantasy is a long-standing fan favourite from the ever-expansive Harry Potter franchise to the fiercely popular (and controversial) Game of Thrones to the well-loved adventures of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Of all the realms, Westeros is probably one of the best known. First made famous by the books of George R. R. Martin, and later by the television adaptation, this is one epic fantasy that keeps going from strength to strength since entering screens in 2011. It’s known for keeping you on your toes from the dramatic ‘Red Wedding’ that shook viewers to their cores to the more recent dilemma about Jon Snow’s mortality. Westeros is home to all of this drama, ego, bloodshed, political intrigue and more. This is why it’s a firm favourite among lovers of fantasy, averaging 25.1 million viewers per episode in the most recent sixth season. I can’t think of anyone who’d like to holiday there, though…
The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe similarly knows no bounds. Following the release of Captain America: Civil War, the MCU has reached a critical milestone, earning over $10 billion for their well-established and always changing multiverse. The universe inhabited by the MCU is one just like our own, only it is inhabited by the unusual and the unexplainable with aliens, gods and superheroes regularly clashing to fight for humanity. There’s something about seeing the very relatable flaws of humanity blown up on the big screen, watching superheroes fight to understand who they are and what their purpose is in the world. The world of the MCU only keeps getting more complicated as the inclusion of Thor brought in the realms of Asgard and other realms of Norse myth; Peter Quill and the Guardians took the MCU to space with the Nova Corp and the distant planets they inhabit, and Doctor Strange? He introduced the multiverse and the many realms and realities that are accessible through magic. The world of Marvel more generally, is one it’s easy to get lost in, with decades of comics, films and TV shows to wade through.
A discussion of fantasy wouldn’t be complete without talking about the forefather of the fantastic, J. R. R. Tolkien, and his legendary novels: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit and the other adjacent stories, such as The Silmarillion. The world of Middle Earth with elves, wizards (Istari), the race of Men, dwarves and a host of other magical beings like Treebeard and Gollum, was brought to life by Peter Jackson’s adaptations of the novels thus kick-starting one of the best-loved (and longest) film series ever. The original adaptations were so prolific and loved by fans that Jackson re-started his adaptation, turning his sights to The Hobbit and entering the realm of Middle Earth again. Watching all of these films in a film marathon is a decision not to be taken lightly as altogether the standard editions span 1,032 minutes, or, 17.2 hours. This requires a dedication few others realms dare to ask, yet fans of the trilogies suffer it gladly. After all, one does not simply enjoy The Lord of the Rings casually.
Another major contender for best fantasy world is the world of Harry Potter which, from the original 7 books and 8 films has since spawned two theme parks, Pottermore, spin-off books like Quidditch Through The Ages, the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play, competitive Quidditch teams, as well as a new film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s safe to say that J. K. Rowling should be feeling pretty proud of herself after the way the world of wizards, magic and the power of love has expanded to be a treasured favourite for all generations. It’s really the detail that makes Rowling’s realm stand out from the rest, with minute details all working to create a world that feels so real you can touch it.
Whilst fantasy offers an escape from the rigours of daily life, it’s also a home away from home that’s always there to welcome you back. The magic, mystery and intrigue are all welcome distractions. They’re also, generally, way more interesting than most other films and shows aimed at adults, allowing you to suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in the realms of fantastic.