[List] - 7 Marvel Properties That Netflix Should Consider

Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios
The announcement a couple years back that Marvel and Netflix would be producing a series of shows based on their more minor characters was pretty surprising. The idea that Marvel would attempt in the serialized format what they had accomplished in cinemas, by introducing each hero then bringing them together Avengers-style for The Defenders, could have easily been written off as the company dipping into the well that had recently served them so well with Joss Whedon's original team-up film. No one was certain of the success of the plan - at that point, Marvel's first foray into TV, Agents of SHIELD, was less then two months old.

The validation of their audacity came a few weeks ago, with the release of Daredevil, and proved that Marvel can do TV as good, or potentially better, then they do movies. And that the remaining three series (AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist) was now worthy of getting a bit excited about. The recent partial revealing of Netflix rating figures also suggests that viewers responded strongly too. The partial results suggest that 4.4 million people tuned into Daredevil during it's first eleven days on the service, besting even House of Cards (these figures do not take into account viewers watching Netflix on their TVs, only computers). More than enough justification for Netflix to renew the series for a second season, which it did promptly, though without Steven S. DeKnight as showrunner - Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez will take over that role.

Daredevil, like Iron Man on the cinematic side, sets a style, tone and level of quality for the later series and seasons to match. Whether they can or not is something we'll have to wait and see. But, as you watch the series, and if you are familiar with Marvel comics, you can immediately see the organic potential for other B and C-list characters to inhabit this world. Characters that you can't imagine co-existing on the cinematic screen alongside the likes of Thor and The Hulk.

After the jump, I take a brief look at what Daredevil has established, the potential directions for it to go within it's self contained series, and it's greater influence on the rest of the MCU. Then I look at seven additional characters from Marvel comics that would be immensely more at home over thirteen episodes than they ever would as films. It will contain spoilers for the first season of Daredevil.

Perhaps the thing that most impressed me with Daredevil, as it relates to the MCU, was how it related to the MCU. Agent Carter largely got a wash on that front, by benefit of taking place 60 years before the events of any of the films. All it had to do was not contradict continuity. And Agents of SHIELD has completely dropped the ball in that regard. Despite being the living lifeline to the MCU during the period when Marvel has not traditionally released films (September to May, while the films are generally released May to November), the viewer is left with little or no impression of what the world of the MCU is like after the events of the film, which are traditionally Earth-sploding events. Even the collapse of SHIELD in Winter Solider only really sway over a half dozen episodes. The rest of the time, the show barely remembers that Hydra exists, let alone gives us a peak at how the world reacts to that. Agents of SHIELD has no texture, is the problem. It's all gloss.

Daredevil, meanwhile, is all texture. By the end of the first episode, we've learned more about the physical and psychological damage done to New York in the wake of the Chitari attacks than we have in two seasons of Agents of SHIELD and all of Phase 2. Daredevil, and hopefully by extension the remaining Netflix series, feel like the ramifications of events of the films. The alien invasion left the buildings as well as the people of Hell's Kitchen damaged, and more than willing to believe everything that Wilson Fisk tells them, when he appears as their Messiah. Which, sociologically, makes sense. With Gods and Heroes flying around the skies, society would develop a pretty detrimental Messiah complex. People would become more willing to accept and not question offered help from a powerful, charismatic and sympathetic figure. And when that figure is revealed to be a desperate villain, it also explains why the public would embrace a guy dressed as a demon as their new savior.



Fisk was the character that the series got the most right, which is good, because his role could have easily been Bond-villain-esque. An all powerful, omniscient figure of crime. Essentially how every Batman villain has ever played out (and yes, I include the Nolan films in that. Falconi, Joker, Bane all pre-exist, and don't have to explain their existence within the confines of the narrative). This series chose to explain Fisk, and in doing so made him the most sympathetic character. Season one was as much his story as Matt's, and arguably is more important than Matt's. Matt exists to protect his home. He's a defensive character, hence the title of the eventual team-up series. Fisk is Caesar. He raises an empire, then has it taken from him. Now, he's the Barbarian at the gate, carrying pitch folks and wanting to watch everything burn in a day.

A second season will likely pick up the fact that Hell's Kitchen put all their eggs into Fisk's basket, and now they realize there is a hole in that basket. A power vacuum opens up, and all the filth in the city will run into it. Part of Matt's journey, I would guess, will be struggling to come to grips with the idea that Fisk might have been the lesser of all possible evils. He had passion, and was genuine in his intent if underhanded in his deed. He was charismatic and pragmatic, and acted in the best interest of the city first, himself second. When he begins eliminating his fellow gang leaders, its because they are becoming a danger to the success of the mission: to rebuild New York, and also make a profit. Whatever new breed of baddie rush in to take Fisk's place, I doubt they will be as altruistic as he. It'll be profit first, city be damned. So, expect gang warfare. Marvel has plenty of mobsters, gangster, and organized crime guys in their catalog, even in season one did dispatch Leland Owlsey. Tombstone, Silvermane, Hammerhead, the Enforcers are all characters that could easily pop their heads up, all vying to become the new Kingpin of Crime. I'm going on record right now as guessing that Wilson Fisk will be the primary villain of The Defenders, for the simple reason that, traditionally, Fisk is a large enough target that he's an antagonist for every Marvel character who spends more than ten minutes in New York. But, with Fisk in prison and Vanessa on the run, he currently lacks the strong footing to generate a strong offensive against a super hero team.

So, a second season would also logically focus on Fisk attempting to retain his power base. With Vanessa acting as his proxy, guaranteed we'll be pulling strings behind the scenes. And, he'll be out for revenge. The several of the later episodes of the first season dropped the largest hints at the likely direction of the second season. First, the oblique reference to Elektra in Matt and Foggy's flashback establishes her existence in universe, and taking a cue from the Ultimate Daredevil origin story. It wouldn't be that surprising is Elektra or Bullseye made appearances in season two, as Fisk would be smart to put a bounty out on Daredevil's head. The other major direction the series is likely to head is one aspect of Matt Murdock's life that didn't get a lot of attention in season one: the law. Foggy notes that a case like Fisk's will take a year to get to a court room, at least. So, expect Fisk's trial to occupy his screen time. The legality of Daredevil's arrest would logically be a thorn in the prosecution's case. And if they opt to fold Karen's tragic comic book back story into the series, which was also heavily hinted at, Fisk may present a more personal and intimate enemy the second time around.


When asked about how the series fits in the MCU, season one showrunner Steven S. DeKnight said, "We reference the Battle of New York and Iron Man and Thor, but I've always approached it like it's a normal person living in the real world. How often do they meet Brad Pitt or sit next to George Clooney? You know these people exist, but you hardly ever get to see them in person even if you live in Los Angeles. We're a part of the MCU, but we don't have the burden of having to interlock so strongly with what the movies are doing. We'll reference them, but this is in its own little corner of the MCU." And that is a valid point. In fact, to date, the only MCU film to take place in New York is Avengers (and a little of Hulk).

What struck me, and this has everything to do with how textured and inhabited the producers made the show feel, is how natural it would be to encounter other Marvel heroes in this "ground level" series. The less powered, but not less powerful characters. The guys who can't fly, but can punch really good. And Marvel already has a name for that sort of hero: they call them Knights. Yes, pretty much every mjaor character had a run under the Marvel Knights banner, but it mostly focused on the more kick-punch heroes. The grittier, more violence and sadness prone anti-heroes of the Marvel crop. By the end of the first episode of Daredevil, I felt like I was watching a Marvel Knights series.

So, with that in mind, what other Marvel character might fit into this Knight environment? When Den of Geek asked Marvel Television Head Jeph Loeb about the potential of bringing in additional characters, he said, "What's great is that this tier of characters, the street level heroes -- which includes the Punisher – is a very rich group of characters. We never want to be driven by who the other character may be. We always want to start from a very simple place which is, what’s the best story for Matt Murdock? What’s the best story for Jessica Jones, Danny Rand, and Luke Cage? If we can find a way to then include something that would get people incredibly excited, that's fantastic, but we would never do that just to do that." So, at least they aren't throwing pasta at the wall, seeing what sticks.

But that doesn't mean we can't suggest recipes.

Moon Knight

I've never been a fan of Moon Knight, but I also feel that he is one writer with a very specific vision away from being a really effective character. Or, I'd be more inclined to make him a more tragic character. In my review of Daredevil, I dubbed Matt Murdock the real batman of the marvel universe, but Moon Knight is Marvel trying (and trying too hard) to create their own Batman. Marc Spector was a former marine turned mercenary, who creates and lives four separate identities as he wages a war against crime (though without the motivation of Bruce Wayne). The Ultimate comics cleaned this up slightly by making Spector a super solider gone wrong, suffering from multiple personality disorder.

What would be needed with Moon Knight is a way to make hi not feel like he's covering the exact same ground that daredevil already has, which is why he's never been as popular a character as Daredevil; he's the same, less well defined, dressed in white and pretends he's the moon. But if the motivation could be cracked, or if plausible sense could be made out of the "living four separate lives" which slowly eats away at both his physical self and his psychological sense of self - he literally loses himself in his mission - which might be an original direction for the MCU to head towards.

Misty Knight

It is easy to see why Marvel passed over Misty in favour of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Jessica Jones is a private investigator with a tragic past, while Luke Cage is a 1970s blacksploitation character who managed to grow beyond his stereotype and become a rounded, deep character. And those two share an interpersonal connection, which benefits the eventual unification of the Netflix series. Meanwhile, Misty Knight is a private investigator with a traumatic past who has never really been given the opportunity to outgrow her 1970s blacksploitation origins. Her costume is still a flame red cat suit, and afro.

Part of me was hopeful that, when Rosario Dawson was cast in Daredevil, that she would be playing Misty. That didn't come to pass, but that's not to say that Misty wouldn't still be a natural part of the environment. Her backstory is pretty simple: she was a hero cop who lost her arm in an explosion, and had it replaced with a bionic component provided by Tony Stark. Working her into the MCU wouldn't take that much maneuvering: have her be a victim of the Chitari attacks, tying her origins into Hell Kitchen's similar destruction (the state of the city mirrors the state of the character). And since Robert Downey Jr. is going around giving arms to people in real life, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to say that Stark Industries did something similar for victims of the first Avengers film.

Cloak and Dagger

We already know that Cloak and Dagger is a property Marvel is at least interested in; they were one of the many properties they had spec scripts commissioned for, to see if they could work as films (those spec scripts have lead to both Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy). C&D was also one of four projects announced by the newly minted TV division back in 2011 as being in production. While nothing came of it, it is worth noting that two of the others - AKA Jessica Jones and Mockingbird - have been redeveloped to work in the MCU, one for Netflix and the other as a spin off of Agents of SHIELD.

Cloak and Dagger are perpetual also-rans. They've had their own series a couple times, but they rarely last more than a handful of issues. Mostly, they show up as supporting characters in titles like Spider-man or Daredevil. And they are good at it, but it fails to give them the attention they deserve, and a TV centred around them would also highlight one very obvious missing peice to the MCU social demographic: the poor. Dagger is a homeless runaway, while Cloak is attempting to avoid being swallowed up by the drugs-and-gang culture of his neighborhood. They find security and protection and friendship in one another, and that is also a selling point for me: they are best friends. Not lovers, not unrequited, and not perpetual Ross-and-Rachels. They are platonic partners, practically siblings, who rely on one another and whose powers contrast and compliment. I see that as a strong foundation on which to build a series.

She-Hulk

I think it's a truth we all have to accept that Jennifer Walters will likely never appear in a Marvel movie. As much as she is one of the most interesting, most dynamic and most joyful characters the company has at their disposal, if Mark Ruffalo's Hulk is getting held up because of legal disputes, I doubt Marvel will bend over backwards to introduce what is on the surface his lady-counterpart. So, I expect we'll have to count on the television division to deliver us the Shulkie that we want and deserve. I am not new to this idea. In fact, in the wake of the announcement of Agents of SHIELD's existence, I did up a list of other properties that would work as TV shows. I'm proud to say that I checked Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, and Ben Ulrich as all worthy, and in due course it was so (though I got the circumstances wrong). But now that Daredevil has opened the doors for superhero litigation, Jennifer Walters has a natural place to slip in. It even occurred to me that the MCU has presented the perfect opportunity to update her origin story, which is a bit rubbish.

Start her off as a JAG officer, responsible for working on the prosecution of former SHIELD agents who were working for Hydra. Agents of SHIELD did establish that the US Military had jurisdiction on this matter. We also saw that Hydra had access to Hulk and gamma-irradiated blood and wasn't above testing it on civilians. She gets taken by Hydra as a plot to get the prisoners released, the military refuses, Hydra injects her with the gamma blood expecting it to kill her, but the dose causes her to permanently transform into the She-Hulk. Strong as a Mack truck, bright green, but retaining the judicial mind and self awareness of Jennifer Walters. The series would follow her emotional journey as she adjusts to the change, refuses to adjust to it, gets a little too into being a super hero and generally learns how to balance her evolving exterior with her evolving interior. The possibilities for subtext abound; society's obsession with physical appearance, racial prejudice, gender bias and sexism (which is more and more a hot topic these days, and will continue to be over the course of the next Presidential election).

Ghost Rider


Ghost Rider is weird, even by comic book standards. And those Nic Cage movies probably did the concept as much justice as it deserves. But as Dr. Strange hits theaters and Iron Fist hits Netflix, there will be room in the MCU to explore the more metaphysical aspects of Marvel's properties, and that includes a guy who sells his soul to the devil and becomes a fire demon.

Except why does it have to be Johnny Blaze? Nic Cage probably did all he could for that role. But if Zarathos can inhabit anyone, why Blaze. Why not follow the Ultimate Ghost Rider thread and have Johnny and his girlfriend Roxanne Simpson get sacrificed by bikers, only have Roxanne be the one who comes back all fire and brimstone. Basically, Jennifer's Body, only with less metaphor and more chains on fire. It's a thought, on how to incorporate the character in a unique way. Of course, the character could just be folded into...

Elsa Bloodstone and the Legion of Monsters

There is a whole subset of characters that Marvel will likely never find an organic way to incorporate int the MCU. Man-Thing, Wolf-By-Night, Blade. That ilk of bizarre, supernatural creature that don't really have a place beside Iron Man, Spider-man or Daredevil. So, my logic is, Guardians of the Galaxy that shit. Just own the fact that these are crazy, insane characters that make little sense and should have the MST3K manta tattooed across them collectively. Throw them all together as the Legion of Monsters, and have them led by one of the equally crazy and amazing characters (as written by Warren Ellis anyway) that Marvel has. The Buffy rip-off anti Buffy. the superhero with the Anna Kendrick personality: Elsa Bloodstone.

By drawing attention to the irreverency, and bringing that Nextwave attitude to the series (the same attitude that FOX is currently bringing to the screen with Deadpool), this could be Marvel's best chance to do for the TV series what the Guardians did for the films: have a little fun and don't take themselves too seriously, while still putting out a decent product.

Punisher

Yeah. raise your hand if, while watching Daredevil, you thought Frank Castle might wander into frame at any moment. Raise your hand if, while watching Daredevil, you thought the producers had gotten confused and accidentally made a Punisher series by mistake. If any character feels like he would fit into the world of Daredevil, it was the Punisher. And, Castle contrasts Murdock nicely. If Matt can have an ethical dilemma over whether of out it is worth sacrificing his soul by murdering someone who deserves it, Frank is free of that dilemma. But does it improve his cause/ If he kills, is that a deterrent? Because he certainly never seems to be lacking for new targets. Is that his problem, or society's? And how far can he go before he becomes the sort of man who deserves Punishment himself?
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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