Netflix and Disney announced a deal this week to develop four original live-action series set in Hell’s Kitchen and based on four street-level characters. As news of this nature often does, it spread across the internet almost as far and fast as the Marvel/Disney deal. While financial terms were not disclosed, we do know that the four series will be 13 episodes each, with a capstone miniseries event, “The Defenders,” which “reimagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters,” the companies said. Set to start in 2015 we’ll be given series about Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Daredevil.
Forgiving for a moment that the Defenders is already a Marvel property made up of entirely different characters, the idea of more superhero TV from the house of ideas seems like a sound prospect. Superheroes, and to a lesser degree their support staff (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), are hot right now. Thor: The Dark World and the rest of the second wave of Marvel films are creating a huge buzz, as is the hubbub surrounding Superman Vs. Batman.
Disney owns a whole fleet of TV networks, so what advantage do they get out of getting into bed with Netflix? First, the subscription service DVD distributor turned direct download video provider has a proven track record of working with original TV built on established entertainment brands. Netflix has hits with “original” series – House of Cards, based on a BBC series of the same name, Orange is the New Black (based on a NY Time Best Seller), and the 4th season of Arrested Development.
More importantly, most of the Disney networks, The Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC Family, bear strong family friendly philosophies. House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, are adult oriented and not shows one is likely to sit down and watch with a 7-year old. Gritty and violent are fairly popular on TV at the moment (Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones) and would fit nicely with the street level nature of the stories. Sliding these stories to Netflix would allow Marvel Television the freedom to darken things up a bit without tarnishing the reputations of their own networks.
Alan Fine, president of Marvel Entertainment, said in a statement. “This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what’s sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure.” The relatively new phenomenon of binge watching TV is gaining popularity, and comics fans seem to be binge watchers by nature.
Netflix historically posts an entire season at once, making it easier to watch “just one more” than it is to turn off the TV. Nextflix series have no commercials and episodes can run as long or short as needed to get a point across. The freedom of storytelling this format allows lends itself well to a medium historically constrained to a six issue comic arc.
Based on where they are airing, we can certainly presume that these series will be not your standard Disney fare, and hopefully well worth watching.