Marvel TV - Here's a thought for you, Mr. Feige and Mr. Whedon
When Marvel announced their exclusive deal with Joss Whedon running through June 2015, it was easy to understand two of the three parts of the deal: writing/directing Avengers 2, and contributing to the creative vision of Phase 2. Those two elements we KNOW for a fact what he will be doing – writing/directing the Avengers 2 and rewriting, giving notes, and help map Phase 2 and beyond.
With so many characters to choose from, how will the Marvel/Disney brass decide? Well, why do they have to limit themselves to one or a few characters? Welcome to ... the Marvel Zone. do do, do do, do do, do do...
It’s the third one that’s caused the most speculation and intrigue: developing a live-action TV show for ABC.
Anyone familiar with Whedon’s work knows he loves and is great at writing strong female characters: Buffy, River Tam on Firefly, Doll House, even Black Widow in The Avengers had a much bigger role than folks anticipated. So the safe bet is that Whedon will develop a female character for Marvel’s TV effort. There are the ladies of Heroes For Hire – Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Jessica Jones; Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Hell Cat, etc. Heroes For Hire stands out as it seems the most relatable and easiest, from a budget standpoint, to develop for TV.
But I’d like to offer a completely different idea: MARVEL TALES.
I’m not talking about the Marvel comic that reprinted old super-hero stories. I mean a show that takes lesser-known and arguably less cinematic characters and strings them together, loosely, in an on-going series. Like a Robert Altman film, take multiple characters and storylines, occasionally have them intersect, and at the end of the day, build a story out of the enormous canvas you have to play with. In other words, it would be a lot like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), just on a smaller scale.
Imagine one week having a Heroes For Hire story (not with Luke Cage & Iron Fist; they’re destined for the silver screen), the next week a Punisher story, the next Cloak & Dagger, the next Morbius (a great anti-hero to capitalize on the vampire craze). Then, assuming Marvel gets the rights back, and it might be heresy to even suggest to the Marvel faithful, but Daredevil would fit into this world nicely, along with frenemy Electra and all the wicked and awesome side characters. The next week could be a creepy Man-Thing story set in the Louisiana bayou. Even a, gulp, Howard The Duck tale, no pun intended. How about the inspector gadget-Mr. Data of the Marvel world, Machine Man? He’d make a great TV character. Or Deathlok. Heck, even spotlight villains that might not otherwise ever see the light of the silver screen, villains that have a rich history and interesting story, like The Hood, Taskmaster, The Wrecking Crew. Throw SHIELD into the mix and you have the thread that connects TV to the MCU.
TV is perfect for these “smaller” heroes and villains because it allows for the slow unfolding and development of character and story. What might, on the surface, seem like a flimsy hero, could turn out to be complex, funny, or heartbreaking if given room to breathe. The Punisher is a perfect example. In the movies he’s had to be this tormented killing machine, but given the chance to have episodes where he’s maybe a little less homicidal, we could really get to know and care about Frank Castle.
Over the course of a season or over multiple seasons, you tell the ongoing stories of each of these characters/teams and let us fall in love with them. Who knows, maybe one or more will be so popular, Marvel will have NO CHOICE but to make a movie.
I can already see the opening of the show. Remember the Twilight Zone show opening? “You just crossed over into…The Twilight Zone.” It was cool and creepy and you immediately knew you were about to be immersed in a different world. Marvel Tales could have that same feel. “Welcome to …Tales from the Marvel Universe.” Or something to that effect.
I know I’m missing a ton of heroes and villains that would work well into this mix – and by no means am I trying to insult these characters by suggesting their place is on TV instead of in theaters. Instead, I’m suggesting that the path to seeing these characters sooner rather than later might be TV. Marvel has so many films on their plate already that we’re going to have to wait at least a few years if not longer for some of the awesome ones we KNOW will be cinematic – Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, and so on.
So while Marvel is busy mapping out their grand landscape, they can set Joss Whedon to, amongst other things, map out the smaller, but no less important, TV landscape. He’s proven he’s a master of juggling 6, 7, 8 characters. Here’s an opportunity to juggle dozens.
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