Marvel is creating four live-action superhero series and an Avengers-style special event that will all air exclusively on Netflix, beginning in 2015. The first of the TV series will focus on Daredevil, while the following series will star Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. At least 13 episodes of each series will be produced, and — like all good Marvel series — they'll eventually come together for a special event. For Netflix, that event will be a mini-series called The Defenders, though there's no word on just how long it'll run.
Marvel intends to create a serialized superhero epic
"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," Alan Fine, president of Marvel Entertainment, says in a statement. The series will all be set in Hell's Kitchen, New York, and will unfold over several years. Their world is said to be a gritty one as well, though Marvel's series have largely straddled the line between realistic worlds and comic book-style fun.
The deal is a huge one for both Marvel and Netflix. It's Marvel's biggest venture yet into television series, and it's one of Netflix's biggest commitments as well — one that's certain to draw quite a few eyes. As big as it is, it's actually the second major deal between the two companies: a deal made late last year will make Netflix the only place to watch Marvel's movies immediately after they leave theaters starting in 2016. With both Marvel and Netflix moving quite aggressively to create new series lately, the partnership is quite fitting. Both companies have also been quite successful in those efforts.
Though it'll be some time before the series debut, the Marvel deal will ensure that Netflix has exciting, exclusive content on the horizon. It's been extremely successful this year thanks to resurrecting Arrested Development and premiering the Emmys-hit House of Cards, and it's now beginning to expand that focus to exclusive comedy specials and documentaries. While Netflix hasn't made it completely clear what'll be coming up next year, deals like this will help it to maintain a wide lead in front of Amazon, which has also been stepping into the original content game. Unlike Netflix, Amazon has been struggling to do that — its pilots received a tepid response, and its first shows aren't even premiering until later this month.
Of course, Netflix's target is much bigger than Amazon Studios. The streaming service is eyeing HBO, and while we don't know yet how high the production level will be on its new Marvel series, Netflix has shown that it's willing to put up what's necessary to make a hit series when it thinks it has something good. The company's success was underscored even further yesterday, when Blockbuster announced that it would be closing its remaining US retail stores. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took a quick shot at the news on his Facebook page, linking out to an analyst's report from 2005 that said his company was underestimating the threat from Blockbuster. "Oh well," Hastings writes. "No one is right all the time."