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What Does The Netflix Partnership Mean For The Marvel Universe? 7 Points To Consider

The Playlist By Edward Davis | The Playlist November 8, 2013 at 1:44PM

Has the revolution begun? Netflix announced just a few days ago that they had delivered 2 billion hours of just streaming content in their fourth quarter this year. Before that, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos provoked the industry with a confrontational keynote speech about releasing films day-and-date on the streaming service and warning theater owners that they will "kill movies" if they continue to resist multi-platform distribution. A convenient, self-serving statement, he's since back pedaled away from those comments (after all, it’s Netflix who mostly benefits here).
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Marvel/Netflix

5. A massive popularity in these Netflix shows does not necessarily translate into feature films.
Marvel is surely wise enough to realize 2 billion hours of streaming content—while a fantastic number to tout—is not 1:1 translation to success on the big screen. Dissolve writer Matt Singer—a propend in favor of the “are movies too long?” debate that’s become part of the discourse of late—recently related a secondhand thought on Twitter. “People will binge 5 episodes of THE WIRE then kvetch that a movie is 140 minutes.” While this is completely true (and we lament anyone kvetching at long movies; they should be as long as they need to be), audience consumption at home vs. theatrical are two different behaviors. What one will withstand in the comfort of their own home and on their own couch is much different from what they will tolerate in a theater packed with other people (and that they're paying a premium price for). And therefore, a Netflix success—even with metrics available and billions of hours streamed—is difficult to quantify and correlate for a theatrical comparison. The paradigm keeps changing and success is relative, and Netflix and Marvel will have plenty of time to see how audiences react and consume this new programming.

The Avengers The Hulk Jet

6. Marvel has demonstrated they won’t rush and want a (relatively) good product out first and foremost.
Quality of Marvel films aside of course (many of us would argue they’ve never made a great film, and Oliver really gave “Thor: The Dark Worlda poor review recently), Marvel has only stumbled once so far on the big screen and that was with Louis Leterrier’s “The Incredible Hulk.” It was not the financial success they were used to, and the production was so troubled that they switched out actors before heading into “The Avengers” (Edward Norton for Mark Ruffalo).

And while the character was quickly redeemed, Marvel has shown they are savvy and do not cater to every fan whim. The Hulk, twice maligned in standalone movies, was the breakout character of the multi-billion dollar 'Avengers' film, and while talk did swirl of another solo film (and a TV project was put into development), Marvel wisely did not rush a ‘Hulk’ movie or TV show out the door (perhaps heeding the advice of Joss Whedon; Marvel chief Kevin Feige has said it must wait at least until after “Avengers: Age Of Ultron). Interestingly, a Hulk series was not announced as part of this new Netflix batch of titles which perhaps indicates development has stalled (and Guillermo del Toro has suggested as much), and Marvel will wisely take a wait and see approval and reassess.

Marvel seems to be cogent of the signal to noise ratio with vociferous fans and reality. Fans have been clamoring for a solo Loki movie for example, but Marvel knows their business is about heroes and that would never track (though Marvel One Shots and this new Netflix deal does open the door to interesting new possibilities).

7. Don't expect to see A-list heroes on the Netflix shows.
While it might be nice to think about top tier characters, The Hulk, Ant-Man or Dr. Strange likely won't be part of the Netflix world of programming or featured in "The Defenders" (Marvel would need to recut new deals for Mark Ruffalo, for example, and or build one into the deal for whoever plays Ant-Man). What’s more, it sounds like they’re keeping things simple. “The Defenders” team may just end up being the aforementioned quartet of Hell’s Kitchen heroes—Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones—and that's it. If they do decide to add other characters to the team, our guess is they will be similarly smaller-scale, lesser-known characters like Valkyrie, Nighthawk, Hellcat, the Gargoyle and the Son of Satan,but we also won’t be surprised if they just keep it to the core four players.

In conclusion? Don’t be surprised if Marvel keeps their Cinematic Universe cohesive and its feature-length characters continue into bigger adventures in their respective tentpoles, while their Netflix TV world stays in that medium. At least for now. Marvel’s major tell will be in casting. Yes, they are expanding, or at least testing the waters with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which has no major name brand lead in its arsenal. But if the person cast as Luke Cage (for example) isn’t a major movie star, it’s doubtful—even with years of development on Netflix—that actor is then going to lead his own movie (though given that the “Avengers” line-up will need to change and expand in the future, Robert Downey Jr.’s not going to do that dinner theater forever, the possibility of in a participatory role is possible). That's all folks. Thoughts? Weigh in below.

This article is related to: Marvel, Kevin Feige, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, The Hulk, Television, TV News, TV Features, Features, Feature, Netflix (Streaming Platform)


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