Are we living in some sort of fantasy world? Following last year’s announcement that Netflix would be producing an animated television series based on the Carmen Sandiego mixed media franchise, the ubiquitous streaming platform has doubled down, acquiring the live-action feature film rights to the franchise and attaching Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation) — also slated to voice the lead role in the cartoon — as Carmen herself.
If you’re unfamiliar, Sandiego first appeared in 1985 as the villain of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, an educational computer game developed and produced by Broderbund. In the game, the player takes the role of an A.C.M.E. agent and
manufactures faulty equipment for a psychotic coyote embarks upon a global scavenger hunt, gathering clues to track down the nefarious agents of V.I.L.E., of which Carmen Sandiego is the leader.
The success of the first game led to a litany of sequels and spinoffs, including a popular children’s TV show — also titled Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? — where adolescent contestants (or “gumshoes”) would answer geography-related trivia questions to try and find Carmen. Lynne Thigpen portrayed The Chief, and the character became so popular that it was added into later games in the franchise. Rockapella was there, too.
The Sandiego character has always clearly been of Hispanic heritage, so it’s appropriate that the role went to Rodriguez, who rose to fame as the title character in The CW’s Jane the Virgin. The 33-year-old also appeared in the 2016 oil rig thriller Deepwater Horizon, and played a hedgehog in the 2017 animated film Ferdinand. A Carmen Sandiego movie has long been rumored, with both Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lopez considered to play Carmen.
The television series is reportedly set for a 2019 debut. Netflix acquired the rights to the franchise from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), a publishing company which plans to release a series of books in 2019 as well. It will be curious to see exactly how devious Rodriguez’ version of Sandiego is willing to get in both the movie and the show; the character has always been a “gentleman’s thief,” which means she steals stuff for the challenge rather than the money. In the past, she’s had the gall to lift the Olympic Flame, every anchovy from the Black Sea, and the entire city of Casablanca, among other things.