Marvel Netflix: Beyond the Capes
Right from the day that Netflix released what would ultimately become a group of shows that cannot be usually relegated to the overused and agonizingly trite fare that comes with the blockbuster action of the superhero genre, Marvel’s whole cinematic universe (by that, I mean the whole fictional world appearing on screen, whether on theaters or your laptop) truly became a studio for everyone. You see, the agreement between Marvel and the top online movie and TV streaming service was, as deals go, struck to make the former’s offerings more expansive than before. For the latter, the prospect of having already popular characters from a giant of a studio was just good business. And boy, oh boy, were they right. The deal, which was initially set for five titles, has now expanded further to include more titles coming from the Marvel universe. The first five, in which four of the shows released were used to set an ensemble series, is aimed at establishing The Defenders line within the MCU.
That’s exactly the thing: The Marvel Netflix shows are so much more than the usual superhero program airing these days, such as the CW’s Flash, Arrow, or Supergirl. When you look at the Marvel movies and Arrowverse shows, which are focused on total action and bombastic superhero tropes (mostly to save their respective cities from any given season’s big baddie), and compare it what Netflix is doing right now, you’ll notice that the latter actually to veer away from those tried and true formulas. In its place, they instead chose to put human drama front and center – yes, even with Iron Fist, which was the weakest entry among the four currently released shows according to critics. Don’t get me wrong, though: there are still elements where the characters don their costumes and embark in exciting fight scenes (which by the way I prefer over the heavy use of CGI in bigger budget productions) the way you’d expect from any old superhero program; it still belongs to that particular genre, after all. My point is, looking at these Netflix series as just another run of the mill production would be a total mistake.
Looking at it the other way around, the plotlines of these Netflix gems may, yes, indeed be aimed at mature viewers. However, it does not by any means take itself too seriously, which is what Warner Bros. and DC are doing with their poor old heroes. When I say “mature” here, what I am saying is that the programs deal with more than the usual idea that the main character has to fight a threat by punching it right in the face. In fact, I could even say that despite the grandiose fight scenes, these shows have more moments where characters just talk. In other words, whenever there’s a scene involving all the pomp you’d expect from superheroes, it is for more than just eye candy. And that’s what Netflix gets right: it’s all about the story. And the money. Well, it’s more about the money. Let’s say a 20-80 split.