There’s no doubt that TV is in a weird place. Feature films have become king, and are only grudgingly cooperating with their counterparts on the small screen, leaving them mere scraps to work with. Instead of being in on the entire process, television programs are forced to adjust their series in order to keep up with the movies.
Some people have come to believe that the TV side of big superhero franchises’ are being pulled along for the ride. According to some of the latest chatter, they may have a point. Studio execs and writers have begun to feel as though the television side of the interconnected universe is more akin to an anchor than anything else. Their hugely successful cinematic universe and brand took years to build up. Rumor has it that Kevin Feige over at Marvel looks down on the TV side of the franchise, but has come to accept it as somewhat of a “necessary evil,” since Disney demands it. And with ABC insisting on getting their words in, it appears that there may be too many cooks in the kitchen for everyone’s tastes.
There are other non-Netflix series in development as well, which will only complicate things further on down the road. Titles like Cloak and Dagger, Ms. Marvel and a Hulk prequel are all coming our way. Expect more fireworks behind the scenes soon.
One can see why the TV side feels like they have to fight for relevance. They are trying to bring secondary characters in from movies so that their shows feel connected to what is happening on the big screen. Meanwhile, the actors on TV would love to be part of the movie side, but so for the studio has all but ignored them.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been using the Inhumans recently, but that might change once the Inhumans movie scheduled for 2019 comes along. It’s a good bet the movie will ignore all or most of what the TV show has done.
The Netflix Wildcard
At this point, ABC is only involved with the Netflix side of the Marvel Universe to save face. It’s a vanity credit. Marvel and its skilled writing team have complete control. None of the silly network mandates are in place, leaving the writers to tell a smarter, grittier and more serialized story.
Daredevil was much more popular than anybody expected. The show has soared, both with critics and viewers. Netflix is hesitant to release exact numbers, but rest assured, both Netflix and Marvel are quite satisfied with the results. Still, that hasn’t stopped a number people around the net from attempting to break down the numbers.
The next Netflix series, AKA Jessica Jones, will feature a great deal of crossover with Daredevil, partly because more actors are cast. Daredevil was in production before anyone else was cast, which is why there were no other appearances.
Netflix Phase II
Marvel is planning a Phase II that will include Defenders, however this won’t take place until 2017. As of right now, the plan is for two or three Netflix series a year, which means that we won’t get Defenders until 2017.
Daredevil season 2 is coming, but won’t air for a while. As for those Elektra rumors and the leaked audition tapes? They’re real. Elektra is coming.
The powers that be at Marvel have also been toying with the idea of adding characters like Punisher, Blade and Ghost Rider, but there are risks with each of those characters. Not only are they darker and more violent, but two of them require supernatural elements in order to tell their stories. The inclusion of these characters could send Netflix over to the goofy side, which is something they’re very afraid of Ghost Rider would also rely on CGI too much for the studio’s taste.
It would also be difficult to incorporate the stories of these characters smoothly. Blade and Punisher are perceived to be rather one-note to carry a series on their own. The heavy level of violence is also perceived to be a risk. They want a “hard PG-13,” instead of an R. And since none of the Defenders actively kill, throwing Punisher into the mix could be a challenge.
It’s far more likely that we’ll see a cameo and backdoor pilot. If it were to go well, like DC did with Firestorm on The Flash this year, it could lead to a new series.
The powers that be in Marvel’s TV universe, on the Netflix side anyways, are working hard to get film actors to cameo. Right now, they are pulling hard for Dr. Strange to appear in the Defenders series. However, that’s an item on the wish list that may never come to fruition. It’s far more likely we’ll see a supporting character come over to bridge things.
The final pipe dream we’re mentioning today is a limited Netflix movie or mini-series that would feature characters like Hawkeye or Black Widow. This could feature both TV and movie characters, effectively serving as a bridge between two worlds. Because so many planets would need to align, this is also very unlikely.
When you get right down to it, the TV side of the equation has much more to lose. Because of that, they’re trying to stay relevant. No one wants to look like they’re playing second fiddle, which is hard enough when you’re going up against massive blockbusters like The Avengers.
Finally, it’s a given that Jeph Loeb will not be calling the shots forever. Right now, there are plans to find a successor for when he does retire, which will probably be within the next few years.