Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Why Marvel’s Plan to Dominate TV is Good News for TV Lovers

by Grant Andrews

Marvel has become synonymous with massive box-office success and enthralling entertainment, so when Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. swooshed and banged its way onto our screens last fall, it brought with it a lot of clout and expectations. But the pioneer television venture of the new Marvel Universe was not the ratings behemoth that it was expected to be, and many complained about the quality of storytelling and production, and were dismayed at the seemingly endless ratings decline. Luckily, the ratings stabilised and the show found its footing creatively, with a finale that felt positively cinematic in scope (I won’t spoil it, but watch the first season if you haven’t already). Still, with the hiccups of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., many were surprised when Marvel announced that the popular short film Agent Carter would be commissioned as a series on ABC for the fall season, and that an additional four series and a mini-series would be coming to Netflix in the near future. While it might seem a giant leap for Marvel, there are many reasons to believe that this will be great news in terms of entertainment value for television fans.

Firstly, there is the talent involved. Entertainment guru Joss Whedon is overseeing the entire second phase of Marvel’s Entertainment Universe (Cinematic Universe feels outdated now that the television ventures are a major factor to consider). His directorial effort, The Avengers, grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide, and was critically acclaimed. Most importantly, the film satisfied fans worldwide and raised interest in the Marvel brand. With Whedon at the helm, not only will the stories all intersect and be injected with his trademark strong, dynamic characters and plot twists, but it will also be a draw for television fans who still mourn the too-early parting of the late great Firefly and applaud the brilliance that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, two of his most memorable creative ventures. Other notable talents involved in these new series are daredevil showrunner and long-time Whedon collaborator Steve S. DeKnight, creative consultant and The Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard, and the recently announced inclusion to the cast of Daredevil, Rosario Dawson. With the top-class talent on and off the screen, these shows are sure to be creatively satisfying, and have the chance to appeal to an even wider audience.

Another promising factor is the networks which are hosting these shows. ABC has been committed to nurturing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., affording it a high budget and allowing it to fulfill its creative vision, and the network was confident enough in the brand to commission Agent Carter. And Netflix, hosting the four new series Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron fist, and the miniseries featuring all four characters, The Defenders, has established itself as a powerhouse of producing quality original content, with the massive success of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and the revived Arrested Development garnering awards love, critical acclaim and gripping storylines. The support of these networks provides the perfect platform for Marvel’s next venture.

Finally, there is the promise of exciting characters who we already love finally getting their moment in the sun. Sure, Daredevil was given centre stage in the unremarkable 2003 film, but this was hardly the incarnation that the character deserved. With these new shows, the characters finally have a chance to join the A-list of Marvel superheroes, and introduce non-comic book fans to their complex and unique backstories.

It seems doubtless that Marvel will continue its unstoppable success with these new shows, and as a fan of television and of Marvel, I’m thrilled that we will be getting so much more content to enjoy, and so much quality TV to invest in. These shows are sure to raise the stakes for television productions, and provide quality entertainment for a wide range of viewers.

What do you think about the plans for the new Marvel shows? Did you enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or think that it was a sign of decline for Marvel? Sound off in the comments below!