Unless the trailer turns out to be a simple marketing trick, The Sopranos prequel risks having too much Tony for its own good. The Many Saints of Newark is set to explore the life and times of the Soprano family in the late 1960s and ‘70s. It will not only feature characters audiences are well acquainted with such as Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini), Junior (Corey Stoll), and Paulie (Billy Magnussen), but will also explore characters that were unable to be in the original series, such as Tony’s father (Jon Bernthal) and Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) who is Christopher Moltisanti’s father.
The first official trailer for The Many Saints of Newark was released earlier this week and offered audiences their first glimpse of the long-anticipated film from Sopranos’ creator David Chase. The trailer clearly placed Tony Soprano front and center as a focal point of the story – however, it also indicated the film would explore Tony’s relationship to Dickie Moltisanti, whom he consistently acknowledged throughout The Sopranos as a father figure. Dickie Moltisanti may be the most influential person in Tony’s life, whose story is never fully told in the series, only referenced.
In fact, it would be safe to say that the trailer hints toward Dickie being the primary protagonist in the film, not Tony. Tony’s significance in the trailer could potentially be a marketing trick to hook audiences. This is not an unreasonable assumption as Warner Bros. will surely recognize that fans will be anxious to see the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, take a shot at his father’s role. However, while this may be what many think they want from the film, too much Tony would likely hurt the overall quality of the prequel and limit its potential to depict a compelling story.
Part of the excitement of a Sopranos prequel is the opportunity to explore new characters like Dickie who were only referenced in the series as well as seeing characters like Paulie and Junior in their prime. These characters were obviously influential to Tony as he grew up and yet audiences merely know them as subservient to him. By homing in on these characters, in this time period, the prequel will be able to tell a story unique to its era. Conversely, a focus on Tony runs the risk of retreading territory that was already explored in The Sopranos, such as Tony’s love-hate relationship with his mother. After all, six seasons of therapy paints a good picture of one’s childhood.
While there are undoubtedly gaps in Tony’s childhood that remain unexplored, the most interesting aspect of the prequel’s setting will be Tony’s interactions with the adults in his life and the Soprano family’s journey to power in New Jersey. With this in mind, it would make sense Dickie would be the protagonist of the film, being Tony was incredibly close to him, and he was a major player in the Soprano crew who was murdered under mysterious circumstances. Therefore, exploring Dickie would allow for a unique story and a new lens through which to view Tony’s relationship with Christopher.
Consequently, Dickie will unquestionably be the more intriguing character in the upcoming film. However, a trailer focusing on unknown characters would likely be incapable of capturing the same level of attention as Michael Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano. This is likely why the official trailer for The Many Saints of Newark is built around the character. This marketing trick will hook fans of the original series who may otherwise not have realized The Many Saints of Newark is a “Sopranos Story.” It also acknowledges that Tony will act as a bridge for audiences and connect them to the new.