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Friday, May 3, 2013

This is How Marvel Starts Their Own Television Network

Posted by Bobby Roberts on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Cage_Fist.jpg

Marvel wasn't always a media juggernaut. They've almost gone bankrupt before, and the '90s weren't kind to them, just like they weren't kind to DC, or market speculators, or anyone who ever had a foil-stamped variant issue of grimdark crosshatched bullshit with swords poured into their eyes. That was a lot of people, as such material constituted (let me consult my ass for these figures) ...87% of supehero comics' output in the '90s.

Marvel began selling characters' film and television rights to anyone willing to pay. Eventually, filmmakers like Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi figured out - in a way Roger Corman & David Hasselhoff couldn't - how to make really good movies with these characters, and the resultant avalanche of cash allowed Marvel to make moves in the film industry, leading to a reality where Robert Downey Jr. is a legitimate action star, Joss Whedon has directed a billion-dollar movie, and people kinda almost give a shit about Thor. That's pretty amazing.

Fans familiar with the comics are constantly looking ahead to the next sequel, sidequel, prequel, or crossover, because they're superhero fans, and that's what they're trained to do. And as other studios flail and fumble with achieving any level of superhero success, some of those previously-sold character rights are reverting back to Marvel. Daredevil already got folded back into the Marvel mix a while back, and now joining him are Ghost Rider, The Punisher, and Blade.

Of course, the cry to get these characters put in new movies was instant. But I think that'd be a bad call, Ripley. A bad call. A better one? Building a presence on television using these street-level heroes. After the jump for the full pitch.

Take Matt Murdock/Daredevil, and stick him at the center of a combination legal drama/police procedural. It's a speedball combining two of the more potent drugs television's ever known. Think: Law & Order & Blind Superhero Vigilantism.

Down the street from Matt's office hangs the shingle of Luke Cage and Iron Fist: Heroes for Hire. A pair of superpowered bounty-hunters who (for a fee) handle the sort of problems that smiling, wholesome teams like the Fantastic Four would never sully their aprons with. Think: Angel and the A-Team

Just a few blocks away are the private investigator offices of one Jessica Jones, former costumed superhero turned independent gumshoe whose personal life is just as interesting as the somewhat superpowered mysteries she takes on every week. Think: The Rockford Files and Saving Grace

The opportunities for special, once-or-twice-a-year crossovers between the shows are plentiful, and if you've read some of the comics featuring these characters (and much of Marvel's best superhero output in the last decade+ is centered on them) you know that these characters can - and should - co-exist together. Especially when you introduce the idea that a common villain that each show can have is Frank Castle, aka The Punisher.

I wouldn't have Frank featured in his own dedicated show. Instead, Frank, for a couple episodes on each of the other shows, blows through like a monsoon of vengeful justice, and our heroes have to attempt to stop him, assist him, or clean up his unholy mess after he's gone.

Where do Blade and Ghost Rider fit in? Well, there's your back-to-back supernatural programming block. Blade's already been a television show once, and once you got past the fact that Sticky Fingaz from Onyx was playing the guy (and doing a decent job of it, too) the show wasn't all that bad. Maybe they don't crossover so often with the street-level scenario I just described above, but once or twice couldn't hurt.

Entire networks have been seeded and grown with less to work with. Much less. Yes, it would require a massive amount of pre-planning and collaboration so as to ensure these shows don't become the knotted, gnarled mess of continuity currently choking superhero comics to death. But nobody thought a cohesive comic-book universe could work in the movies, either. Until Marvel up and did it.

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