According to reports on the deal, which do not, at this juncture, contain a whole lot of details, Daredevil will bat lead-off in the Marvel/Netflix lineup. Marvel recently regained the right's to the Daredevil property and have reportedly been working hard on what to do with it. It seems as though they have settled on that project and have chosen wisely! Back in August and again last week, I postulated that Hornhead was very well-suited to an episodic TV show given the amount of character development required to fully appreciate Matt Murdock and his dual identities.
The 2003 Daredevil, while not hugely successful, was not a terrible film. One of the issues I have with it is it's attempt to cram the complexities of Murdock, his origins as Daredevil, a crazy villain, two important relationships and a high-profile Marvel baddie (the Kingpin) into a 2-hour space. What Marvel now has at its disposal is the ability to let many of the key elements of the Daredevil mythology develop generically over 13-hour-long-episodes. In such a set up it is likely we'll see some flashbacks occasionally to delve into how Matt Murdock developed his senses and became a masked hero; however, each episode will be able to spend time attending to Murdock's court room drama and Daredevil's vigilantism without having to overdo either one.
A strong template for a successful Daredevil series already exists; in fact, it just completed its 8th and final season: Dexter. The show, which was very successful, especially early on, does a nice job of showing what it would take to live a dual life when one side of your life is tied up in the law. Given that courtroom dramas always seem to gain a following, that side of the show seems to be pretty well covered as well. As I said in August, Daredevil, like all comics when you think about it, is made to be told serially, and it will thrive as a TV series. It's long been a huge part of Daredevil to have him team up with or, at the very least, interact with other heroes so I'd imagine we'd be seeing a fair amount of crossing over in the Daredevil series.
Using Netflix as the medium through which to deliver Daredevil, one of Marvel's oldest original characters, is a strategically brilliant maneuver by the studio. Many elements of a good Daredevil story can be told to general audiences, but we may get a more complete picture of the character with a little freedom to push some R-rated boundaries that wouldn't fit the ABC model. Certainly Marvel doesn't want to completely turn away younger audiences, but I have a feeling that some more mature concepts may be a part of these series on Netflix. Basically Marvel has given itself the freedom to tell the Daredevil story the way it wants and you can be sure that, as the first of 4 series, it will be done well.
Marvel has been developing this series for quite some time and it was destined to hit TV screens at some point despite being turned down by ABC. For those of you who aren't quite sure who Jessica Jones is, she is a super-powered hero who gave up the costume and became a private investigator. She has close ties to MANY other heroes, including her husband Luke Cage, and much of her PI work related to other super powered people. Melissa Rosenberg, who worked on the original idea, AKA Jessica Jones, has mentioned that the show was geared more for adults and that's likely why it was rejected by ABC. As with Daredevil, using Netflix allows Marvel to make the show a little more adult-themed.
Marvel will almost certainly use the Jessica Jones series to introduce new characters or have occasional appearances by existing characters, as will be the case with Daredevil. The timeline for which of the shows will follow Daredevil has not been revealed yet, but the Jessica Jones show would make introductions of Luke Cage and Danny Rand pretty simple. This is a show that the people at Marvel have been high on for years as they searched for the right fit. I'm very excited to see what they do with it on Netflix.
Luke Cage is one of Marvel's most under appreciated heroes. He's been an Avenger, led his own team of New Avengers and is headlining the current Marvel NOW! title, The Mighty Avengers. Cage and Daredevil are the faces of the Marvel street-level in my mind. A Cage series may just be the best of the four.
Given Cage's close ties to Jessica Jones, it's really likely that the actor cast as Cage and the actress cast as Jones will make a good deal of appearances in each other's series. That opens the door for Marvel to cast some bigger names in these roles. I've said many times that Dwayne Johnson would make an excellent Cage and I still believe that to be the case; however, I'm unsure that Johnson is going to squeeze a TV show into his schedule without assurances of a film. Fortunately, Marvel has mentioned that if these films do well, the characters could potentially move onto the big screen. I could easily see Cage and Iron Fist moving onto the screen in a Heroes of Hire film, or being a part of future Avengers films, like the third installment, if they are well-received.
This series might already be written. The Immortal Iron Fist series by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker is one of Marvel's best individual arcs and would play beautifully through a series. It would allow time to explore Danny Rand's journey to becoming the Iron Fist while also developing a deep mythology around K'un L'un and the Immortal Weapons. It's entirely possible that they are going to go in a completely different direction, but that series was definitely the basis for the long-time development of an Iron Fist film. You can read a lot more about Iron Fist HERE.
Big Picture Takeaway
This is a bold and brilliant move by Marvel. They have almost nothing to lose by throwing a little bit of cash at some Netflix original series. These are going to be watched by a lot of people. If they suck, Marvel is out very little and their good rep with films stays intact; however, if they are well-received, Marvel has opened up a new door to their heroes and can shift gears to making feature films for those heroes that did the best. This is a step in the right direction for Marvel. As a fan I am very excited to see how these turn out and what that means for the future of the MCU. I have no doubt in my mind that much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., these series will all be MCU canon, giving Marvel the ability to continue to expand its scope. Bravo Marvel...hurry up 2015.