It’s safe to say without a shred of hesitation that Marvel has always been ahead of the curve in adapting its comic book properties into a film format; DC has never been able to match them quite simply. Where Marvel hit the ground running with Spider-Man and the X-Men well over a decade ago, DC continued to wallow in the apocalyptic aftermath of Batman and Robin. Where Marvel has produced a number of acclaimed films, DC is stuck with a collection of average to subpar to downright deplorably bad films.
And it would appear Marvel is again striking ahead, with news having broken last week that preliminary discussions are underway to bring Marvel’s lesser known properties to Netflix as “original series.”
Much like other Netflix originals, it can be assumed the shows would be produced, uploaded and made available online to view in its entirety. Netflix has become an online TV viewing juggernaut, making it a logical move for the progressive-minded Marvel Studios to further promote their properties. The choices for development are interesting, with Daredevil as the forerunner to series focusing on Jessica Jones, Iron Fist & Luke Cage, and the Defenders. The Daredevil series is tentatively set to air online in 2015, spanning 13 episodes, with Drew Goddard already rumoured to be helming the series. The same can be expected from the other three series, bringing somewhere around 50 episodes of Marvel-related content to fans.
This deal is uncharted territory, and more importantly it gives fans something they dearly want: access to some of their fan favourites that otherwise would likely not do well as films. With the original Daredevil being a polarizing film, and Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones being relative unknowns, it gives Marvel Studios a method through which they can test the waters and determine which of their properties can be successful on a larger platform. In this, Marvel’s Netflix originals would be a great launching point for that reason while introducing established fans to a new group of characters.
As television shows go, we’re used to the weekly serialized format complete with mid-season breaks and inevitably finales. Netflix Originals differ in their approach as they dump the entire season online on launch and have them available to view, sort of like an expedited trade paperback. That measure of immediacy is appealing, and if this proves successful, it may open up doors for follow-up series or perhaps finally wake DC from its slumber, where it’s only now embraced the TV format for its properties with the green-lit series based off Constantine. Even this, and shows like Arrow or Agents of Shield, could have benefited from a Netflix-type launch. Those are not prime examples, as they’ve proven successful to this point. But moving forward I would expect Marvel to continually dip their toes in the water, and if that means getting more comic book adaptations to watch, then that’s a good thing.