'His Dark Materials' SDCC Trailer: Armored Polar Bears, Explained

San Diego Comic-Con chilled out with the new trailer for 'His Dark Materials.'

With the end of Game of Thrones, fantasy fans are looking to HBO’s next ambitious series: The live-action television adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s novels, His Dark Materials. The show airs later this fall.

On Thursday evening of San Diego Comic-Con, a new trailer debuted at Hall H, showing fans a larger glimpse at the upcoming adventures of Lyra (Dafne Keen, Logan), who will explore the multiverse in a battle against a version of the Catholic Church known as the Magisterium. The show also stars James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters (The Wire), and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The trailer stunned fans in attendance at Comic-Con, who tweeted praise for the trailer, raving the show will be “fantastic.” At the panel, executive producer Jane Tranter cited Pullman’s wish to write adult books children should read; Tranter hopes to make an adult show children should watch.

You can watch the trailer at the top of this page.

Unlike the vague teaser that premiered at the end of Game of Thrones in April, the new trailer from Comic-Con is a clearer look at the new series. The trailer vividly outlines the story of Lyra, a young girl in Oxford whose uncle (James McAvoy) embarks to the Arctic. Left under the care of the suspicious Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson), Lyra uses a magical truth-telling device that allows her to see Mrs. Coulter’s true nature. Hoping to find the whereabouts of several missing children, Lyra teams up with Lee Scoresby (Lin Manuel-Miranda) and Iorek Byrnison, an armored polar bear, to combat the Magisterium.

Dafne Keen ('Logan') stars in 'His Dark Materials.'


The series is based on a trilogy of novels by Sir Phillip Pullman, plus additional short stories and novellas. The main books are: Northern Lights (1995, released as The Golden Compass in the U.S.), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000). The series as a whole evokes ideas in science, philosophy, and religion; it is naked in its criticism against the Catholic Church.

Not surprisingly, the books have generated criticism from Christian groups, though reactions were eclipsed by the more mainstream Harry Potter series. In a 2003 interview, Pullman expressed surprise, saying: “I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

Like all great fantasy universes, His Dark Materials has several unique elements that make the mythology distinct.

Whereas Harry and his fellow Hogwarts students have a Patronus, the characters in His Dark Materials have “daemons,” physical manifestations of a person’s “inner being” or spirit. The new trailer also confirms the existence of “armoured bears” — basically sentient polar bears with their own society and culture. In the books, the bears’ unusual dexterity and metallurgy make them exceptional blacksmiths, able to craft weapons human smiths cannot.

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