Why the Netflix Corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the Best Corner
Back in 2013 Marvel Studios was only 6 films deep into the world’s first interconnect movie universe with the first film of so-called ‘Phase 2’ to be released, Iron Man 3. That means at this point we had Iron Man 1 (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and finally the epic Marvel’s The Avengers (2012). What Marvel Studio was able to accomplish in those few years was pretty amazing but they weren’t finished yet. With the launch of Iron Man 3 (2013) Marvel began Phase 2 which would include films like Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and the surprise hit Ant-Man (2015). These were all pretty great movies with Guardians really stepping up and Ant-Man coming out of near obscurity into the limelight. But while these movies were raking in cash at theaters worldwide Marvel and Netflix, fairly quietly, announced what this author thinks was the most important deal in the MCU.
Originally announced on 11-06-2013 the team up between Netflix and Marvel would include four individual show for the following Marvel properties: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist; the deal also includes a “team-up” mini-series titled “The Defenders”. The shows would be part of the larger MCU and would kick off with Daredevil in 2015. This deal went unnoticed by a vast majority of people, even fans, which is a shame because the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the best thing in the MCU.
You hear it all the time from people when they exit the theater after seeing a movie based on a book: “The book was better”. Usually, the statement that the book was better is followed by a complaint that the 2 hour film was just not enough time to fully grasp the plot or the nuanced background of the character or that the filmmakers tried to smash too much into such a short amount of time. Considering that a comic book is shorter than normal novel one might thing that shouldn’t be a problem when making a movie about say Captain America but consider this: Captain America was created in 1941. That means that there are 76 years of material to work with, I think even an avid Tolkien fan would have to admit that there is a lot to work with. Thor was created (in the Marvel Comics Universe at least) in 1962 along with the Hulk, and one year later we got Iron Man in 1963. So is a 2-hour film really long enough to do a character justice? Of course, it can be done but a serial format such as Netflix’s Daredevil show lets the writers create more material, the actors to spend a little bit more screen time showing nuanced performances, fight choreographers to develop longer and more intricate hand-to-hand fight scenes. During a 13 episode Daredevil Season 1 we were able to see Matt Murdock evolve from a brawling half-masked man lashing out in a train yard to suiting up officially as Daredevil. We were able to see Jessica Jones deal with raging alcoholism as a result of PTSD topped off with a serious case of self-loathing but in both cases, it was to a degree that a 2-hour film simply couldn’t offer.
More time isn’t always a good thing though, ask me how I felt about sitting through Titanic in high school attempting to get a girl’s attention. Sometimes more time is just an opportunity to drag out crap for more crap, sorry James Cameron. The history of superheroes on TV isn’t… good… really when you think about it. If you strip away the nostalgia of watching Adam West, God rest his soul, in the 1960s Batman it really was a terrible show and the same goes for Wonder Woman and Smallville. The cartoons of of the same time were able to really step it up but that has more to do with the medium and the limitations on budget and practical effects of times past for live-action television projects. In the last 5-10 years television has closed the gap between television production and feature film production to the point that there basically isn’t one and, frankly, that is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed watching the old Batman episodes, especially the movie where the Penguin was able to buy a submarine with nothing more than a fake name, but if we are all being honest with ourselves we know we really prefer the current quality level. Marvel and Netflix are offering us cinema quality production in a serial format, with the benefits listed above, and they stream it right into our homes. That is just amazing.
Previously I wrote an article about the small moments of the first Avengers movie and I gushed over the small things that were written in the script, performed by the actors, and directed by Joss. Obviously, I love those moments and they are great to include, in fact, you could argue that the Netflix shows included those same types of small moments and you’d be right. However, some “moments” are just so good it would be better if they were a bit longer. In Daredevil season 1 we got a dramatic episode showing Matt’s time with his trainer and mentor Stick. Instead of Stick walking on and immediately jumping into the story we were treated to amazing flashbacks to a young post-his-father’s-death Matt struggling to understand what was happening to him while being alone in the world. Each of the flashbacks are loaded with many small moments that we would have missed were this a feature film.
Currently, Marvel is preparing to release a new project for their Inhumans franchise. I use the term ‘project’ because the release with be both in theaters and on television functionally giving viewers the chance to enjoy the benefits of both movie and television releases in one project. In the future, hopefully near future, I predict that you will see more and more of these style releases; in fact recent news about a John Wick tie-in tv show using the advantages of that format to expand that world contributes to my prediction. In the meantime, make sure you consume the entire Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because it is the best corner and in my opinion Daredevil is the best thing happening in that corner, does that mean Daredevil is the best thing in the MCU? Maybe, but Punisher is on his way fall of 2017 so we’ll have to see.