Netflix and Beyond: The Ever-Widening Future of Marvel Studios

2014 has been a phenomenal year for Marvel Studios. The two highest grossing movies of the year have their stamp on them, and each one has enough critical acclaim to fill a library with gushing, enthusiastic reviews. And it’s not even over yet. The release of Big Hero Six (technically a Disney movie, but I’m counting it as a legit Marvel movie because shut up), the animated adaptation of another lesser-known Marvel property is a month or so away, and I’m not sure if you’re aware but it looks fucking amazing. I mean Jesus, did you see that last trailer? Good luck getting that song out of your head by the way. And to add to all that, the hype train for the long-awaited Avengers: Age of Ultron is warming up to leave the station, with a trailer apparently set to release with that boring looking Christopher Nolan space movie. But what comes after that? As exciting as the last year has been, Marvel has a lot of potentially exciting projects in the pipeline, and news about them has been steadily trickling out for the past few months.

So for this week’s FFR, I thought it would be fun to take another look ahead at some of the more interesting things Marvel and their Disney backers plan to unleash on us in the next year or so. Because remember, speculating about comic book movies is roughly 50% of what the internet is for.

Ant Man previewAnt-Man

Whenever I bring up that Marvel is making a movie about Ant-Man, people’s reactions tend to involve raised eyebrows or uproarious laughter. And it’s not hard to see why, mustering up enthusiasm about a guy who’s powers begin and end with the word “Ants” is like trying to get enthusiastic about….well, the movie Antz. Remember when that was a thing? With like, Woody Allen and Gene Hackman? God, that was weird.

Anyway, up until recently, my smug assurance that Ant Man was gonna blow peoples’ minds came entirely from the phrase ‘Directed by Edgar Wright’. But then Wright departed the project over creative differences, and my reaction was pretty much this. Shortly after, Marvel rushed in a new director, Peyton Reed, best known for recent films Yes Man and The Break-Up. I’m not overly familiar with Reed’s work, and I’m sure he’s a fine director, but I think a lot of people’s hype for this movie went out the door with Wright, and of all Marvel’s upcoming projects, Ant- Man seems most poised to be their first real failure.

Agent Carter

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Marvel’s first foray into basic cable TV programming, has been met with a mixed reaction, with choruses of “It gets better!” failing to drown out the deafening “Meh” that resounded during the first half of Season 1.

But Marvel isn’t done with TV yet, and their next foray into the small screen, Agent Carter, will hopefully meet with more initial success than their last. A lot of what Agent Carter will be about was actually set up in Winter Soldier, around that one sequence where Captain America and Black Widow find the dingy, long disused hidden office where S.H.I.E.L.D was started by the supporting cast of the first Captain America flick. Hayley Atwell is set to reprise her role as the British intelligence agent who goes on to play an important role in the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D, presumably before they had killer blue jumpsuits and those flying aircraft carriers that make physic students go completely insane. Other familiar faces like Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark are set to show up, and Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo will drop in to direct a few episodes.


Daredevil & Netflix

Not content with just movies and TV, Marvel recently began production on a series of miniseries produced in partnership with Netflix, the first of which, Daredevil, has begun filming. Daredevil will soon be followed by three other shows based on other street-level Marvel characters and superheroes: street wise African-American hero Luke Cage, the mystically empowered martial artist Iron Fist and former superheroine turned private-eye Jessica Jones. Once all four have been established in their own shows, they’ll all team up for,the last Netlfix series, Heroes for Hire…what? It’s not Heroes for Hire? It’s The Defenders? Are you sure? Because that sounds like a Heroes for Hire lineup to me. Ok, if you insist.

So far, only Daredevil has been cast (as far as Marvel have announced anyway), and with strong talents like Charlie Cox in the title role and Vincent D’Onofrio as Daredevil’s arch-nemesis The Kingpin. Previously, the show was going to be helmed by Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard, before he dropped out to direct Sony’s Sinister Six movie, because why work with Marvel when you can work with the people trying to imitate Marvel and failing horrendously? Stephen S. DeKnight stepped in to fill Goddard’s shoes, and I’ve heard enough decent things about those Spartacus shows that I’m looking forward to see how it turns out.

One rather large question that’s come up about Daredevil recently is what time period the show will take place in. DeKnight has said that the show will have a “gritty 1970s New York feel”, which could mean one of two things. It could mean that the show will simply be trying to evoke 70s crime movies like Dirty Harry and Death Wish, in the same way that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was modeling itself after political thrillers from the same period like Three Days of the Condor. But it could also mean that the show will actually be set in the 1970s. It isn’t an entirely new idea, Joe Carnahan threw around the idea of a Daredevil movie set in the 70s before the rights to the character reverted to Marvel (which is sad, when you think about it, since a Joe Carnahan Daredevil movie could have been the best thing in the world since popcorn flavored jellybeans), but if it’s true, it throws a new spin on what the other series in the Defenders project could be. Does this mean they’ll all be set in the 70s?

It sounds far-fetched, but given that Marvel already has another period-set TV project in the pipeline, anything’s possible.

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