WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for The School For Good and Evil book series by Soman Chainani and Netflix’s The School For Good and EvilNetflix’s The School For Good and Evil features a book change that threatens to affect the plot line of its sequels due to its untimely revelation of the School Master’s identity. Based on Soman Chainani’s middle-grade fantasy hexalogy, The School for Good and Evil follows the fairytale of best friends, the good Agatha (Sofia Wylie) and the evil Sophie (Sophia Anne Caruso), in a magical school where heroes and villains originate. With the movie gaining momentum on the streaming service, Netflix is likely already drawing plans to adapt the other books into movies and director Paul Feig has all but confirmed it in an interview (via Screen Rant). These plans, however, could alter from the source material thanks to a major Master narrative change.
The School Master (Laurence Fishburne) in The School for Good and Evil book is initially a mysterious figure who doesn’t have much involvement until the last act, revealing himself as the Evil School Master and sealing Never After with Sophie’s true love’s kiss. Essentially, the movie runs through these plot strokes with little tweaks from the original source material, however, its biggest deviation is its opening cut with Kit Young’s Rafal and Rhian (twin brothers of Good and Evil) which incorporates much of the third book’s School Master focus. While The School for Good and Evil movie works with its book changes, its School Master and Rafal/Rhian storylines are prematurely thrown out in the open, threatening that its sequels will be nothing like its book counterparts.
Why The School For Good and Evil Changed The First Book’s Plot
After the release of the School for Good and Evil book in 2013, Universal Pictures immediately picked it up for a book-to-screen adaptation but got stuck in developmental hell until Netflix took the reins in 2020. By this time, the screenplay had experienced a lot of changes along the way, with book author Soman Chainani heavily involved in the screenplay writing process. According to Paul Feig, director of A Simple Favor, the script was already well-worked for a movie translation when he was brought on board to direct The School for Good and Evil with Wylie (Agatha) and Caruso (Sophie) as its leads. Feig also often consulted Chainani (also an Executive Producer on the movie) on details that he believed would better tell the story; going so far as to describe the author as a “realist”, untethered to the idea that movies derived from novels should be 100% accurate. Despite the movie undergoing a rigorous transformation from prose to screenplay to movie, Netflix’s the School for Good and Evil still managed to capture the spirit of its book version, basically accomplishing every book-to-screen adaptation’s mission.
Rafal and Rhian’s Storyline Should Have Been Kept For The Sequel
The School for Good and Evil’s sequel is already set up by the unexplained dagger at the end, however, its trajectory is put into question by Rafal and Rhian’s early exposure. The School Masters’ (Good and Evil) storyline is a looming mystery in the School Days trilogy of the School for Good and Evil book series and part of the reason why characters Rafal and Sophie’s love story is so interesting. Despite the School Master deceiving Sophie about his true intentions (regaining immortality through an evil true love’s kiss) and being thwarted in the end, it was the older-looking School Master that did this and not the handsome Rafal. With the movie ensuring that Sophie already encounters Rafal’s true identity, it effectively becomes trickier to justify Sophie actually falling in love with him so much that it incites an all-out war.
While Kit Young does a phenomenal job at being Rafal and Rhian in the School for Good and Evil, his magical transformation from Fishburne’s School Master to the Evil Twin Rafal is undercooked. Rafal and Rhian’s storyline is a vital one that should have bided its time instead of suffering being shortened or combined with other aspects. Given that this arc is interwoven with Agatha and Sophie’s characterization, The School for Good and Evil‘s book changes now predetermine more staggering alterations for any upcoming movies in this universe.