Citadel: Is the Series Inspired by Real Secret Agents?

Prime Video’s ‘Citadel’ is a spy-thriller series that follows the story of two secret agents, Mason Kane and Nadia Sinh. After a mission goes wrong, Mason and Nadia’s memories are removed. They forget their previous lives, where they were spies for a secret agency called Citadel which fell after one agent betrayed them. Eight years later, their lives collide again as they try to piece together what happened to them and their agency while trying to stop the enemy from enacting a cataclysmic event.

Created by David Weil, the show is a high-octane ride that presents a thrilling portrait of the spy life while keeping the characters grounded in reality. If you are wondering whether ‘Citadel’ is based on true events or a book, here’s what you should know.

Citadel is a Work of Fiction

No, ‘Citadel’ is not based on a true story or a book. The idea for the show was pitched by Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, to the Russo brothers. Joe Russo revealed that Salke wanted to create a series that would span the globe and had the potential to branch off into other spin-offs. “Her idea was, ‘Look, I want to make a show that has a US flagship and that can splinter off into regional shows made with talent from those regions in those local languages.’

The whole concept behind the show was to tell a global story, to create a community of diverse artists from around the world working together to build a universe and an original story,” Russo said. No strangers to making action movies, the Russo brothers loved the idea of creating a global franchise. “We thought that this was such a novel idea for a narrative and an amazing way to create a really diverse global community of storytellers. To tell a giant mosaic of a narrative together,” Joe Russo said.

He further added, “After our work on other films and spending so much time traveling the globe, this was an idea I think was really exciting to Anthony and I, and ignitable for us, which seemed like an incredible challenge.” In creating a story and characters that would feel true to current times, the show’s creators dived into research and confessed that they were unsettled by some things they found out about the world of espionage.

“I think some of the scariest conversations we’ve ever had are with consultants where you’re like, ‘I just didn’t want to know that. I did not want to know that the world is that complicated.’ Surveillance-wise, and just understanding of global issues and how complex they are and what’s really going on behind certain global issues,” Joe Russo said. The development of weapons of mass destruction worldwide was another thing that they found unsettling. “It’s always disturbing when you figure out the inventive new ways that people have to cause destruction,” Anthony Russo added.

While the series stays true to the genre, delivering threats of a global nature and action sequences that leave the audience breathless, creator David Weil wanted it to be somewhat different than other stories in the genre. He cites classic spy movies like ‘James Bond,’ ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘The Bourne Series’ as inspirations and influences for the show. However, unlike meeting and leaving these spies at the beginning and end of their missions, we never get to see what they are like in everyday life.

“(In Citadel) We get to go home with the spies. You get to see them when they’re not at work; you get to see the flaws and depths and dimensions in a way that sometimes a two-and-a-half-hour film may not allow,” Weil said. Another thing about the genre that the show’s creators wanted to subvert was the focus on the white Western male leads. ‘Citadel’ puts Nadia Sinh at the forefront of the story, giving it an international aspect, as expected from a secret service spread throughout the world.

“It’s woven throughout the DNA of the show, ad it’s also intrinsic to the story because these are global spies, and they’re on a chase around the world,” Joe Russo said. Taking all the aforementioned factors into consideration, we infer that ‘Citadel’ is an entirely fictional series that stays in touch with reality while also taking the audience on a fantastical thrill ride.

Read More: Where is Citadel Filmed?