FAN-ticizing: Perfect Primetime Drama - MARVEL KNIGHTS!

FAN-ticizing: Perfect Primetime Drama - MARVEL KNIGHTS!

Next year, we will be treated to Marvel Studios’ cosmic entry into the MCU,Guardians of the Galaxy. With the newly launched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we can see there is place for street justice to make an entry into Marvel Studios’ universe of heroes. Here's how they can do it.

In 2012 Marvel fans rejoiced when the news broke that Daredevil is back with Marvel Studios. Although the 2003 movie was a little less than stellar, the story of Matt Murdock could make for a considerably compelling TV series. The Man Without Fear offers new scope in a primetime arena bogged-down with crime dramas. For starters, it would be an ardent legal thriller with Matt Murdock and his legal partner Foggy Nelson determinedly providing legal aid to an assortment of the downtrodden and innocent. But where the law fails to reach, we have a billy-club wielding super powered hyper-sensed vigilante who takes business to the criminal lowlifes of Hell’s Kitchen.

Matt Murdock though is the not only character for which TV offers an ideal narrative platform. Marvel has loads of heroes each with merits for TV, but there are 4 in particular which work above and beyond most of the others, namely Luke Cage, Danny Rand (Iron Fist), Marc Spector (Moon Knight) and Frank Castle (The Punisher).

There already exists the idea of making a movie combining the efforts of these individuals as Marvel Knights. With Marvel already ploughing ahead with The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of The Galaxy, how exactly would yet another ensemble assembly of heroes work for the big screen? In order not to further clutter an already busy conglomeration of a movie universe where new characters are constantly being added, we can turn to the world of the small screen instead to showcase the talents that Marvel is holding in its bag. Agents of SHIELD is a satellite to The Avengers and TV makes for an easy platform to launch more satellites. Marvel Knights can be one of those satellites to both The Avengers and Agents of Shield.

The format
In 2005, audiences were introduced to a series called Prison Break. The show continued for 4 seasons and it centred on genius structural engineer Michael Scofield, who purposefully landed himself in the same jail in which his brother was being held. Using a blueprint of the prison (which he helped design) that was tattooed on his body, he helps his brother (innocent of the crime of which he was convicted) break out of prison. The first season was novel, fresh and entertaining. And then it all when downhill after that. The success of season 1 gave way to season 2. Season 3 saw the cast of the show in jail again and I cannot actually recall if there was a prison in the fourth season proving that the show had worn out its premise. It could have reached a kind of cult status had it been a self-contained narrative comprising one season only.

The idea for a Marvel Knights show is to use a narrative approach which gives opportunity to focus on Matt Murdock (Daredevil), Marc Spector (Moon Knight), Luke Cage and Danny Rand (Heroes for Hire) and Frank Castle (The Punisher) individually. To do this, the show would be divided into a multiple-narrative style similar to that used by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction or even Tim Kring’s Hereos. Therefore, what we get are several simultaneous story arcs for each individual BEFORE they become a team.

The show would be subdivided into 4 seasons of 6 episodes each where each season focuses almost exclusively, but not quite, on each individual (or in the case of Hereos For Hire, both Luke Cage and Danny Rand). The show would differ from other normal series in that all seasons would either have to run concurrently or immediately after the last without waiting. The latter would probably be the better option where season 2 follows immediately after 1, season 3 immediately after 2 and so on without a break. With 6 episodes each, we have a grand total of 24 episodes which is on par with the number of episodes of most TV shows. In essence, each 6-episode season is like a mini-season of one main season of 24 episodes. In other words, each mini-season is a mini-series that is part of a bigger whole. With this we can see that the sum of the parts (the mini-seasons) are greater than the sum of the whole and this is what we want because we would hate to see the characters as individuals get lost in the shuffle of a team-up.

We can then on move on to season 5 which would be the perfect point to see the assembly of Marvel Knights as a team. Each mini-season would see each individual as a knight serving a greater good. Therefore, these characters are already Marvel Knights as individuals because they are all serving the same cause, even though they are yet to assemble as a team.

The Tone
General audiences embrace “dark and gritty” and a show like Marvel Knights ought to be gritty albeit with a light tone as opposed to a sombre one. The show would be like a combination of The Wire, Law And Order and Heroes. We are going to have go with the grounded realism approach. And when I use the word “grounded”, I actually mean it from two angles: Firstly, metaphorically in the sense a show of this sort would have to be sensible, logical and (dare I say it) realistic. And secondly, literally, as in on the ground itself. With Marvel Knights we have a Marvel extension set on the tough streets and suspicious alleyways of the urban jungle of New York where crime and misdemeanours are the order of the day. It is at street level where the audience can see the callous fallout of The Battle of New York – and not from the lofty comforts of the Helicarrier. And this paves the way (pun intended) for me to introduce the Odd Couple of the show: Luke Cage and Danny Rand.

The Seasons

Season 1: Heroes For Hire
Crime and corruption escalate to new heights after the Battle of New York. Many unsympathetic people take advantage of others and enrich the coffers of their pockets. Innocent people find themselves at the mercy of gangs who extort protection money. If no-one else can help, you hire the A....Heroes For Hire.

Initially, Heroes for Hire, Inc. was a small business licensed by the state of New York that offered a full line of professional investigation and protection services. Heroes for Hire was owned by Luke Cage and Daniel Rand. (Wikipedia)

In this season, we would see Luke Cage and martial artist Danny Rand selling their services to New York’s citizens. And in the wake of The Battle of New York, their services are greatly needed. Their business would already have been established for a number of years at the point in time in which episode 1 would pick up.

Season 2: The Man Without Fear
I have already mentioned above the two-pronged angle of a Daredevil series: The courtroom drama by day; And vigilante by night. Matt Murdock offers plenty of versatility from the more jovial attorney to serious vigilante. When Matt Murdock cannot win battles for justice in the courtroom, he takes the battle to the streets. He is driven to don the cowl as a result of the senseless killing of his boxer father, Battlin Jack Murdock. Via a series of flashbacks (Dexter style), we can see Jack’s poor attempts to guide his young son which are made even more difficult by him becoming an enforcer for the mob. It is because of this we learn why Matt decides to fight crime out of court with the proponents of organised crime being his main agenda. Jack’s story would be one of redemption and it will be interwoven as an evolving backstory of each Daredevil episode. When this season starts, Matt Murdock will already have been a vigilante for a year prior to the Battle of New York.

Season 3: Moon Knight
Marc Spector is a mercenary turned crime-fighter trying to makes amends for his past. That proves to be quite difficult for a man with a number of different personalities. He possesses enhanced strength, stamina and reflexes and is an expert hand-to-hand fighter and boxer. He uses extreme brutality against criminals.

With crime booming after the Battle of New York, he decides to step up and vows to stop criminals even if he has to kill them. At one point, he tries to take a job with the Heroes For Hire agency, but they turn him down. By day, he works as a cab driver.
Via a series of flashbacks, we would gain insight into his origin and how he gained his abilities.

This season opens with Marc Spector beginning his career as a vigilante.

Side note: Perhaps he had some boxing training from Battlin Jack Murdock.

Season 4: The Punisher
Frank Castle is the anti-hero known as The Punisher. After exacting his revenge for the death of his family who were killed by the mob, Frank wages a one-man war on the mob and all criminals. He employs tactics of torture, coercion, extortion and an uncomplicated willingness to kill. This season marks the 8-year anniversary of Frank’s family’s murder and he has been operating as The Punisher during that time period.

After the Battle of New York, the city is rife with organised crime. The Punisher targets the mob members who are thriving thanks to all the instability. One person in particular is his main target: The Kingpin.

The Time Frame
Since the show is employing a multiple-narrative approach, the events of all four seasons occur simultaneously. This would allow the characters to make small cameos in each other’s season. But the idea is for the individual seasons to be part of a greater whole which would showcase how the lives and doings of the protagonists are all interlinked. This will eventually culminate in the individual characters crossing paths and teaming-up for a common cause.

The Themes
Crime, corruption, violence, injustice, justice and punishment are the themes for a show of this nature.

The Villain of the Piece: The Kingpin
The themes above are already unifying factors. But we can go further and embody crime, corruption, violence and injustice in the form of one main villain - The Kingpin.

Wilson Fisk is the self-proclaimed Kingpin of Crime. He is one of the most prominent figures of organized crime in the US east coast. He is a mobster, the king of mobsters, controlling organized crime on the east coast with an iron fist. Aside from Tony Stark, the public would see Fisk as a wealthy and legitimate businessman who occasionally donated to charities and was viewed as a generous man. (ComicVine)

Organised crime is flourishing in New York and the Kingpin has amassed his own gang army. After the Battle of New York, the Kingpin is starting to wrench control away from the other crime bosses. Fisk, who has been a good (or bad) representation of excess in the comics, has had his hands in many dirty pies but he always manages to keep his nose clean. This rotund business man puts a squeeze on anybody who gets in his way, literally. From drug trafficking, weapons dealing, corruption and assassinations, the Kingpin is behind all street crime. And it is up Daredevil, Heroes For Hire, Moon Knight and The Punisher to fight back.

The Conclusion
There are heaps of resources from which a good writer can draw to make Marvel Knights into a grounded realistic crime drama. I have provided some exposition as to how it can happen, but there are undoubtedly many other ways to do this. I think this is the point in the timeline most suitable for introducing Heroes for Hire, Daredevil, Moon Knight and The Punisher into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and TV is more than perfect a means to do so. What do you guys think? Who would you like to see on a Marvel Knights TV series?
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