Marvel and Netflix are teaming up for a sprawling, multi-year content partnership that will focus on NYC heroes centered in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, the company announced today. This will involve the creation of four new serialized shows, culminating in a multi-part miniseries tying the characters in each together. It’s probably the most ambitious original programming initiative announced by Netflix to date, and it’s also Marvel’s biggest bet on non-film live action content.
The four shows will foucs on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, characters familiar to hardcore comic fans but possibly not to the broader audience Marvel has brought in to its comic book universe via blockbuster films like Iron Man and The Avengers. These characters are often portrayed as neighborhood watch-type heroes, or blue collar superhumans who fight more street crime than laser-toting aliens.
All four shows will have a minimum of 13 episodes, and these should culminate in a mini-series called The Defenders (after the Marvel superhero team of the same name, and with a different makeup to that pictured in the comic cover above), in which Daredevil, Jones, Iron Fist and Cage team up. That’s as far as either Marvel or Netflix are going in terms of revealing plot at this point.
Marvel has already dabbled in live action serial TV recently, with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. The show premiered this fall, to high expectations because of the success of the Marvel film franchises, the inclusion of popular character Agent Phil Coulson from the Avengers movie, and Joss Whedon’s name being attached to the project. Fans and critics haven’t enjoyed the show so far, however, and ratings continue to drop precipitously, raising questions about its future.
This series of shows with Netflix raises hope that Marvel’s next TV outing might not be such a clumsily executed affair. It’s got superheroes, for one thing, instead of people mopping up after those with powers, and there seems to be a grand plan in place that might avoid a formulaic freak-of-the-week pattern of disconnected episodes, like we’ve been getting with Agents. Of course, only time will tell how good or bad it is, and we’ll have to wait until 2015 to find out, since that’s when the air date of the shows is set to begin. These are great characters with a lot of potential (Ben Affleck Daredevil movie travesty aside), so let’s hope Marvel gets it right this time.