“Daredevil” arrived in April and was a smash success for Netflix and Marvel alike. “Jessica Jones” hits this Friday and I have no doubt that the same result will occur. I guess that “every six months” model is really working for Netflix so far! Will they stick to that, however? I severely doubt it, if no other reason than them having a glut of product heading their way.
“Daredevil” already has a second season heading into post-production, which will premiere in April again. “Luke Cage” just began filming its first season last month and should wrap early next year, ahead of what will likely be a mid-2016 debut. Contrary to the numerous different rumors circulating around the ‘net, “Iron Fist” is still on deck to shoot next spring after “Cage” wraps. And after that? Well, if “Jones” is the hit I expect, loose plans are already in place to shoot a second season for it next summer.
That’s a lot of TV to have waiting in the wings, which automatically blows Netflix’s previous conservative statement out of the water. So why did they make them? The answer is simple: bet hedging. You don’t want to announce to the world that you will have 4 seasons of original Marvel TV programming a year on your service and then have one or two of the shows underperform. That’s just bad business. Instead, you wait and see how things go, and then burst out with an extremely positive “since you love it all, we’re giving it to you more often” announcement.
With “Daredevil” seeing a second (and likely third) season and “Jones” likely getting a second for herself as well before “The Defenders” miniseries that brings them all together occurs, where does that leave additional seasons for “Cage” and “Fist“, should the numbers warrants them? We don’t know. “The Defenders” was initially pegged for a 2017 debut when this whole shabang was announced, but that might not necessarily hold. With all four shows building towards that event, it really comes down to how much time they need with each character to not only introduce their story and corner of Hell’s Kitchen, but also weave them into the eventual “Defenders” narrative.
As a result, the miniseries event could still be on target for 2017 or it could be push into 2018, both for scheduling and storytelling reasons. As for the constant rumors of other potential shows on Netflix, I honestly can’t see anymore series being added to the line-up until after “Defenders“. Sorry folks, but if you’re jonesing for (the probably inevitable) The Punisher and Moon Knight shows, you’ll probably be waiting a few more years.
A wider array of Marvel shows on Netflix also poses an interesting issue: at what point do they stop? Marvel TV has their hooks into a LOT of different superhero character rights, though not all are what I would call “series material”. Some don’t meet the criteria for popularity/viability reasons and will likely be relegated to supporting roles and guest spots. Shang Chi comes to mind, as do a few others who might fare better guest starring in the shows of others.
Others are unlikely to see their own shows for sheer budgetary reasons. The cost of producing series for Ghost Rider or Werewolf by Night is likely a little too high to make their usage viable. You could, however, easily showcase both (alongside Frankenstein and The Living Mummy) from time to time in a Moon Knight series. Guest spots on the others shows are high possibilities as well.
Then we come to “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist“. While it’s certainly possible to sustain both series separately after “Defenders“, I won’t be too surprised if they are ultimately combined into a “Heroes For Hire” series afterwards. Such a move would not only diversify the stories that could be told, but there’s also a precedent for it in the source material. Besides, fans loves to see those two playing off of one another and it would also open up room in the schedule for other shows.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to Marvel’s partnership with Netflix, at least within the realms of the characters that Marvel TV has access to. There are others that could provide potential series (She-Hulk, Kazar, Cloak & Dagger, Power Pack), but some might end up being moved over to film division or re-purposed as animated properties. Power Pack in particular seems like perfect Disney animation material.
If I were a betting man, I’d peg the post-“Defenders” roster including “Daredevil“, “Jessica Jones“, “Heroes For Hire“, “The Punisher“, “Moon Knight“, and maybe one more series (preferably another female-led series). That’s 6, giving Netflix a new Marvel season every other month. That’s 70+ episodes a year, which might seem like a lot, but really isn’t anymore than the combined episode counts of DC’s “The Flash“, “Arrow“, “Supergirl“, and “Legends of Tomorrow“. Even if you add in “Agents of SHIELD“, “Agent Carter“, and the upcoming “Most Wanted“, that’s still less than the DC lot once you factor in the likes of “Gotham“, “Lucifer“, “iZombie“, etc.
Right now Marvel TV’s NYC crew is working on a year round production slate that services 4 series. It wouldn’t be too hard to add extra units to beef it up even more to accommodate another series or two. Will we reach that many series on Netflix? It’s hard to say, but the possibility is there for sure, both in terms of production capabilities and room for programming. Right now, the sky is the limit and Marvel can soar as high as they want in this particular arena. How high will they go? I guess we’ll find out over the next few years. At the very least, it looks like we can expect a new season every 3 months on Netflix.