Marvel is currently the king of the super hero world on both the big screen and television, but the company isn't looking to the traditional networks to for its next series. Instead, Marvel is teaming with Netflix for a set of four shows that will culminate in a mini series that brings them all together. That's good news for comic fans who are jonesing for some more super hero action, but bad news for networks because Marvel's message to them is "We don't need you."
Marvel teams with Netflix for new shows
The four original series Marvel has planned include Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. The characters may not be as well known as Marvel A-listers like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Spider-Man, and their more gritty story lines aren't a good fit for prime time TV.
The link between these four characters is that they strut their super powers in an especially seedy and crime ridden part of New York City known as Hell's Kitchen. Instead of taking on alien invasions and caped super villains, they deal more with major crime syndicates and drug rings.
The story lines Marvel is likely to pursue with these characters will be darker than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is an ABC series that follows the adventures of a small group of agents led by Agent Coulson, who was a character in some of company's big budget movies.
For Marvel, the Netflix deal gives it the flexibility to tell the stories it wants without fights with network executives over content, and it takes the shows out of the traditional watch-when-we-tell-you model the networks have always used for their programming. It also frees Marvel from the commercial-based model networks, cable, and satellite TV providers rely on.
Consumers get to watch the shows when they want and on the device of their choice, which could be their computer, iPad, Apple TV, Xbox, or any number of other devices with Netflix support and an Internet connection. Marvel clearly sees the decision as a big deal.
"This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling," said Marvel Entertainment President Alan Fine. "Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel's specialty."
Those kinds of stories can't be told as easily or effectively on regular television, and that's making Netflix more attractive to companies like Marvel. In turn, that adds value to products that stream Internet content, like Apple TV, and that makes it easier for viewers to break out of the multichannel cable and satellite packages they pay for now.
In the end viewers get shows that aren't diluted to fit the constraints of traditional broadcast television, shows they can watch on their own schedule, and have fewer reasons to stay tied to their cable and satellite TV subscriptions.