5 Thoughts on Marvel/Netflix’s ‘Blockbuster’ Announcement

Marvel and Netflix punctuated yesterday’s Blockbuster news this morning with an entertainment bombshell that makes 2015 feel even further away. The House of Ideas is bringing 4 comic book-based series to Netflix, culminating in a “miniseries event”.

The shows will star Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones, and the miniseries will focus on The Defenders (the super-team these characters [amongst others] comprise). From Marvel.com:

Led by a series focused on “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.  Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s “The Defenders” mini-series event that reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.

Here are the first thoughts that come to mind regarding this massive announcement:

1. Interesting Timing

This news is quite a punctuation mark on yesterday’s announcement that Blockbuster was closing the stores most people didn’t realize were still open. Since Netflix’s inception, they have done everything to juxtapose themselves with Blockbuster as opposed to competing with them. The past 48 hours confirms the fact that in the business dictionary, ultimately Netflix and Blockbuster are entertainment industry antonyms, not synonyms.

2. The Sky is the Limit

This move proves that there really is no limit to what Marvel can and will do with their characters and properties. Marvel continues to convert comic book characters to television and film, and continues to find new outlets to do so. There is no reason to doubt that every comic book character with a significant fan base will not be developed for television or film in some capacity within the next 25 years.

3. Is it Too Much?

Some comic book characters just work better in the medium they were created to inhabit. Imagine that! Don’t get me wrong, I believe that a good director with the benefit of good casting and non-invasive producers can make almost any character work on tv or film, but I also believe the reason we haven’t seen a Deadpool movie yet is because he is a comic book character.

Wade Wilson was not created to be a television or movie character, therefore he says and does things that can only be pulled off in comics, yet when screenwriters and directors make the necessary changes to convert them, it can alienate the base fans. Sticking to the source material is a tricky business, and these are fanboy minefields that Marvel and Netflix will have to traverse carefully.

4. Let the Writers “Flix’ Their Muscles

One thing that always struck me about Netflix Original Series is that they are playing on an entirely different field than traditional television series. It’s the same thing that happened when cable series starting hogging all of the hardware come awards season- they can say and do things on cable that cannot be said or done on network television. If you’ve watched Netflix Original Series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, you know that angles can be explored with these Marvel characters that couldn’t normally be probed, even in most comic books. That said, I think Marvel has taken this into account based on the specific characters they’ve chose for what is hopefully “Phase 1” of their Netflix television universe.

5. Poor DC

Last night, watching Arrow on The CW, I was admiring how far DC had come since Smallville, with regard to converting their characters for television. The show has established a level of trust with most viewers, and whereas in years past I would have been trepidatious about how they’ll handle a less reality-based upcoming character like The Flash, I feel good about it now. Good enough that I had actually been counting down the episodes to Barry Allen’s supposed debut, until now.

I’ll still tune in and (hopefully) geek out when The Flash appears on Arrow, but this news just puts in perspective how far Marvel is ahead of DC with regard to developing content in non-comic book media. This really makes the Hourman announcement look sad by comparison. DC continues to (in my opinion) develop the wrong characters for the wrong networks, or the wrong medium altogether. Until DC stops using The CW as its default television network, it won’t compete in the same league as Marvel.

Let the fantasy casting begin!

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