The news hit yesterday and it's pretty big: four Marvel Comics' properties are being developed for live-action shows to air on Netflix.
Marvel is constantly looking for new projects to take from the comic pages and bring to the live-action world. After the success of Iron Man and the way they rolled all of their biggest characters into The Avengers, it's no surprise that they are looking to duplicate that success. So with their movies continuing to kick ass in theaters, they decided to narrow their focus to the small screen. This particular project is a big one, developing four individual shows at once, all leading up to a culmination in a final team up mini-series. So they are basically just emulating the formula of The Avengers, just with lower profile characters.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has committed to four series, each containing a minimum of 13 episodes. From what it sounds like, each series would focus on one character and are likely to play off each other from time to time, with characters crossing into each series. The heroes that are slated to appear?
Daredevil. Jessica Jones. Iron Fist. Luke Cage.
It's an odd line up, indeed. Clearly, Daredevil would be the most popular character in that list, having already been translated onto the big screen by Ben Affleck back in 2003. While the movie was mostly panned by fans, it still managed to bring some attention to the character. It makes sense that they chose Daredevil to kick-off the initiative, grabbing fans of the movie (do they exist?) and leading them into the other characters.
Jessica Jones seems like a strange character to choose for her own series were it not for the fact that this is the only one Marvel revealed they had plans for. Given what Jeph Loeb talked about at San Diego Comic Con back in 2011, it sounds like Marvel intend to adapt Brian Michael Bendis' series Alias, which focuses on Jones' life as a private detective over her super hero life. I read the first few issues of the series and it was pretty well written. if they do go this route, it could be a really good, gritty detective series. Her involved also opens up the move to include Luke Cage, given their relationship status in the Marvel Universe.
Luke Cage and Iron Fist make sense. They are very popular characters with comics fans. So popular, in fact, that most fans were expecting J. August Richards' character in the premiere episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to turn out to be Luke Cage. While the disappointment of the reveal that it wasn't could be heard around the world, this move will definitely satisfy those fans. And even though it won't be an actual Heroes For Hire team up (supposedly), it will be awesome to see the duo on screen together.
But the climax of all four of these series is a mini-series featuring all of the characters. Marvel and Netflix have already revealed that the final mini-series will be called The Defenders, which makes it sound very much like Avengers-Lite. Despite that, though, it sounds like a cool idea, especially given that The Defenders is still a marketable property more than 40 years after the super hero team was conceived.
Marvel came out of the gates swinging when they debuted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. back in September. Even though the ratings for S.H.I.E.L.D. have floundered lately, I still have hope that their television division can create big things. No one has attempted the kind of cross-platform development that Marvel is undertaking, with their movies and television shows intermingling, so it makes sense that they may make some mistakes along the way. But once the initial kinks get worked out, I have no doubt that they can make some great things of their live-action division.
The shows are set to debut in 2015. While I'm still annoyed that we haven't seen the Cloak & Dagger series that Marvel spoke about at SDCC 2011, I'm happy that things are moving forward with their television plans. I'm also happy that I will finally get some use out of my Netflix account besides catching up on old seasons of How I Met Your Mother.