Thursday, January 26, 2017

Exploring the Marvel Netflix Shows: Part Seven (Latest Updates)

This is a continuation of my exploration of the Marvel Netflix shows (part onetwothreefour, five, and six).  I'm a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and out of all its current expressions the Netflix shows are my favourite--the ultimate highlight of the format.  The fan service surrounding these shows lacks collated, contextualized, and expository material, so what follows addresses those elements.

This post is looking forward into the future, so beyond what's been confirmed I indulge in some speculation.  Potential SPOILERS below.

While there have been no specific news releases regarding Iron Fist, there have been more names added to the show's IMDB page, so keeping in mind that these could be wrong (for instance, Carrie-Anne Moss isn't listed despite already being confirmed for the show) I thought I'd go through them:
  • The Bride of Nine Spiders - her appearance is also confirmed on Wikipedia, but that's without a source provided; I discussed her previously and if correct this would confirm fan speculation (including my own) that she was shown briefly in the trailer; one wonders if the show-version of her works for Madam Gao/Crane Mother (which she does not in the comics--each represents a different immortal city, the Kingdom of Spiders and K'un-Zi respectively)
  • Grigori Veznikov (presumably the previously listed Andrei's brother); they are perhaps a nod to the Ranskahov brothers from Daredevil season one (possibly taking over the brothers' role in Russian trafficking); the Veznikov's are created for the show
  • Ciara - no comic character has that name (the closest is Ciaran McCoy, Hank McCoy's (Beast) daughter on an alternate Earth)
  • Lynn - there are innumerable Lynn's from the comics; none seem likely, but if I had to pick I'd go with one of: Women's Magazine secretary Lynn Anderson (a Captain Marvel character), NYPD cop Lynn Michaels (a Punisher character), or Daily Bugle intern Lynn Walsh (who would work for the New York Bulletin in the show presumably)
We still have no idea who Michael Maize's short-lived (or briefly appearing) character will be (he's not listed on IMDB), and actor Doua Moua is also listed without a character name.

Most of the episode titles (with directors) have been released:
  • "Snow Gives Way" - John Dahl
  • "Shadow Hawk Takes Flight" - John Dahl
  • "Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch" - Tom Shankland
  • "Eight Diagram Dragon Palm" - Miguel Sapochnik
  • "Under Leaf Pluck Lotus" - Uta Briesewitz
  • "Immortal Emerges From Cave" - unknown
  • "Felling with Tree Routes" - Farren Blackburn
  • "The Blessing of Many Fractures" - Kevin Tancharoen
  • "The Mistress of All Agonies" - Jet Wilkinson
  • title and director unknown
  • "Lead Horse Back to Stable" - Deborah Chow
  • title and director unknown
  • "Dragon Plays with Fire" - Stephen Surjik
A few notes on the directors: John Dahl directed an episode of Jessica Jones (9); Tom Shankland directed an episode of Luke Cage (9); Miguel Sapochnik comes from Game of Thrones; Uta Briesewitz directed an episode of Jessica Jones (11); Farren Blackburn directed a couple of season one Daredevil episodes (5, 10); Kevin Tancharoen has directed eight episodes of Agents of SHIELD; Jet Wilkinson is best known for Home and Away and Neighbours; Deborah Chow is best known for Reign; Stephen Surjik directed an episode of Luke Cage (10), two episodes of Jessica Jones (5-6), and three episodes of Daredevil (1.8, 2.9, 2.11).

It remains an open question whether or not Scott Buck decided to follow the trend in Daredevil season two and Luke Cage of telling two story arcs in one season.  If not he'll be following the route of the arguably more successful Jessica Jones and Daredevil season one in telling just one larger story.  I've seen speculation that the first half of the show will focus on the Meachum's and the corporate angle with the second half focused on the Hand and/or other similar opponents, but there are no clues either way.  All we can be sure of is that Danny Rand learns of the threat that The Defenders will face at some point in his series.

It's worth pointing out to Iron Fist fans that it seems like the mystical element of the character will be toned down from the comics.  I bring this up because I keep seeing speculation about all the mysticism we're going to see (eg here and here) .  Showrunner Scott Buck mentioned depowering Danny (see my Iron Fist article), as well as de-emphasizing the mystical element of the character ("it's about approaching it in a grounded way, and not that its magic"), which is consistent with all of The Defenders.

The Defenders news has come out in a flood, serving as both a promo for the show and providing an indirect boost to Iron Fist.  We've learned The Defenders will air before The Punisher, but there's no specific date for it beyond "summer" (I'd guess June, but it could be May or July).

The show has gone from two showrunners down to one in Marco Ramirez (Douglas Petrie left the project in October).  It's late in the game for Whedonverser Petrie to depart, but it's not dissimilar to Drew Goddard's departure from Daredevil season one, so I wouldn't expect the change to be impactful.

As for specific information about the series, we've learned a bit more about Sigourney Weaver's lead villain character: she's been created for the show and we know her name is Alexandra, with apparently no comic book basis; she's described as a very powerful force in New York City (she sounds a little like the Kingpin, but of the corporate variety).  She's probably connected to IGH (seen in both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage) and in that respect perhaps part of the "Big Pharma" angle we'll see in Iron Fist (see below).  Naturally, despite being told Alexandra has no comic book basis, I've looked through all the Alexandras, Alexanders, and Alexs to see if someone shares the character's aspects, but none do.

In terms of plot apparently the four Defenders all come separately to Midland Circle (where the giant hole from Daredevil season two is located), each arriving for their own reasons and not expecting to cross paths.  Danny Rand is the only one who understands what the threat is (presumably having encountered it or learned of it in Iron Fist).

Comments by the cast make it sound as though Jessica Jones and Matt Murdoch are primarily a pair to start with (some speculate it's to try and get Luke Cage out of jail, but it's difficult to parse that with the aforementioned meeting above since he'd have to be out of jail for it to happen), while Luke and Danny form the other (just as they have been in the comics for decades).  This makes a lot of sense in terms of who these people are: Matt is a crime fighting lawyer and Jessica is a private eye (so both work within the criminal justice system to some extent), while Luke and Danny are principally just heroes.

There were no clues what the show will do with Elektra--the most obvious thing will be the Hand resurrecting her (hinted at in Daredevil season two as well as what happened in the comics) and at least for awhile fighting against the other Defenders.  What's not clear is how or why she'll switch sides (as seems inevitable), nor what connection Alexandra has to the Hand's activities.

Given The Defenders release date the The Punisher will be airing after it--presumably in the fall (perhaps September, similar to Luke Cage's release date).  This leaves room for a December Jessica Jones season two release, but that's speculation on my part.  There have been no official updates on The Punisher, but we can again play the IMDB game and look at the new characters they have listed as appearing:
  • Moose - likely created for the show, the only comic book reference that might work is Mikey McCormick ("the Moose"), a short-lived Kingpin goon killed by Gambit
  • Scut - a show creation
  • Sicario - a show creation (undoubtedly referencing the 1995 film of the same name)
We can dismiss the Mastermind speculatuion for "Bowers", as he's now listed as "Agent Bowers", so having no connection to the Iron Man villain.

The Inhumans is filming in March, and it appears as though it will recognise and be within the continuity of Agents of SHIELD (which is no surprise).  Speaking of AoS, they've referenced Judas Bullets (via Luke Cage), continuing the very light touches of continuity between the ABC show and the Netflix series.  Back to the Inhumans, the casting call was leaked to reveal the main cast of characters: Black Bolt ("Broderick"), Medusa ("Marjorie"), Maximus ("Marty"), Karnak ("Kevin"), Gorgon ("Grady"), Crystal ("Christine"),and Triton ("Timothy").  Given how quickly filming is set to commence I'd expect the actors to be cast quickly.  Roel Reine has been tapped to direct the first two episodes (the ones that will appear in theaters); he's best known for The Scorpion King 3 and his Dutch films.

The curmudgeonly Ike Perlmutter has joined Donald Trump's cabinet, meaning his direct influence at Marvel will be minimized even further--leaving open the possibility that Marvel movies may at long last acknowledge the TV side of things.

Other general Marvel news: Collider posted a video attempting to explain who has which rights to various Marvel characters.  It seems accurate, going through the weird custody of the Fantastic Four (between Constantin Films and Fox), the distribution rights Universal has for the Hulk, but not whatever it is impacting Namor (Marvel has the rights back from Universal, but something we don't  know continues to hold up his use--perhaps it's similar to the Hulk and involves distribution).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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