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Comic Book Television Preview: Part 2- Marvel Comics

In part one of our look into the upcoming invasion of comic book characters to your television screens, we investigated the two upcoming dramas based on DC Comics characters. Well, fear not Marvel fans; this time we look to see what Stan Lee Studios has coming up. (I say that figuratively, Stan the cameo man isn’t pulling the strings anymore). For those who have stuck with “Agents of SHIELD” through its season one growing pains, you know that the show does well expanding the Marvel universe beyond what can be said in two or three films a year. Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, has become a bonafide cult star since his original small roles in the Avengers tie-in films. Now he is the leader of a highly promoted network show. But Marvel isn’t stopping there. With four series being developed for Netflix, some of the grittier properties are going to come to life.

The Defenders Not The Avengers

The Marvel-Netflix partnership isn’t exactly breaking news. It was announced in November of 2013, but it is still worth looking into since it says a lot about how Marvel will present itself going forward. With Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man making their way to the big screen, it was a logical thought to assume that Marvel was looking to give all of their lead characters the feature film treatment. That doesn’t seem to be the case now. Some characters just don’t fit as a blockbuster franchise. Imagine if they tried to turn a comic like “Ghost Rider” into a movie. It would be a disaster. I kid. I actually liked the second one. But whether the Netflix shows will include more mature content or just expand the brand in a different medium is yet to be seen.

The four shows will each follow an individual hero based in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. The characters are Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. After that there will be a mini-series event where the individuals come together as “The Defenders.” With The Avengers atop the box office world it makes sense Marvel wouldn’t want to release their own version of Avengers-lite in theaters.

But fans of the comic books know that these characters are much more than Avengers throwaways. The most well-known of the group, Daredevil received a film adaptation in 2003 with eventual celebrity it-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner playing Daredevil and Elektra. The film was financially successful, but its reputation plummets more every year since it was released. Needless to say, Affleck won’t be back playing the role. Instead he will be Batman in the new Man of Steel sequel. Once Marvel got the rights for the character back from FOX, it was likely the blind lawyer turned vigilante would resurface somewhere given his popularity.

Jessica Jones, however, is much less famous. Created in 2001, she has history as a costumed hero and a private eye. It’s likely her show will include some combination of the two roles. There was word of a series based on Jones being developed for ABC a few years back, but that obviously fell through. Now Marvel has found a better outlet to adapt their heroine.

Here is where things get interesting. The two remaining characters, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, are well known for their exploits with Heroes for Hire Inc. Combine them with the private investigator, Jessica Jones, and it looks like we know where this is going. Luke Cage is one character who has featured prominently in the big Marvel Comics events over the last decade or so. So it is exciting to see his live action premiere taking shape. Also, it’s worth noting that he and Jessica Jones have… a history. Iron Fist was created during the 1970s when martial arts became popular in the US. He is a martial arts master in addition to having superpowers. He even had a stint a few years back where he impersonated Daredevil for a while. Will that mean anything in the upcoming shows? No one knows for sure, but a quick look through the memory banks shows these four characters are very well connected. A partnership makes sense.

For the answers to all the questions we have about this huge Marvel project in the works, we’ll have to stay tuned. The first of the shows is not set to premiere until 2015, so we still have some time for speculation. We do know that Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods, Cloverfield) will be the show runner for “Daredevil” and Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight, “Dexter”) will handle “Jessica Jones.” Production begins this summer in New York. Netflix will never be the same.