Monday, May 15, 2017

Marvel TV News Update

It has been a long time since my last news update. In that time The Defenders trailer dropped, the Cloak & Dagger trailer dropped, an Inhumans teaser dropped, a Runaways teaser was leaked, New Warriors was announced (for 2018; a 10-episode season on Freeform), Agents of SHIELD was renewed for a fifth season, and at long last Kevin Feige confirmed we'll get a TV/movie crossover at some point.

Despite arguably being the biggest news in awhile there hasn't been much reflection upon Feige confirming a TV/movie crossover.  This is undoubtedly due to how vague his comments were. Speculation I've seen (eg here) has focused on the Inhumans and/or Agents of SHIELD.  I'm dubious of the latter, albeit it's the simplest to do, but the former is plausible (perhaps even part of the deal with IMAX).  What I'm most eager for is a Defenders tie-in, but for the moment there's no hint of that.  All the Netflix actors have movie appearances built into their contracts, so at least logistically it remains a simple thing to do if that's the direction Marvel chooses to go.

When I last discussed The Defenders the release date was still in flux, but now we know the show will premiere August 18th (just two weeks before Inhumans hits theaters).  The show wrapped filming in mid-March (after four months), giving Netflix five months to do post-production (longer than usual, suggesting more special effects than usual).  The Defenders trailer was good, with the Jessica Jones/Matt Murdoch moments working best.  The only problem I have with the trailer is that the Hand isn't particularly interesting and the Netflix version of Elektra isn't either, but that's not enough cause for me to worry.

Jessica Jones season two began filming in April, with Luke Cage season two beginning in JuneDaredevil season three is slated for later this year and if we get Iron Fist season two I'd expect it to start not long after Daredevil.  Filming shows close together means crossovers will be easier to handle, although it remains to be seen if Netflix wants to go in that direction.  The shows typically take six months to shoot (eg Iron FistDaredevil season two, The PunisherLuke Cage is slated for nine months, but perhaps that includes post), with at least three months of post-production.  Given the parameters it suggests the earliest we see Jessica Jones is January. Information about The Punisher, including its release date, is still up in the air.  Filming wrapped in early April, meaning post-production will be completed as early as July.  Whether Netflix cares about conflicting with Inhumans is uncertain, but if it does I'd peg October as the likely release date.

We can't wrap Defenders talk without noting The Verge embarrassing itself with glad-handing as Kwame Opam tells himself "It's largely accepted by now that Iron Fist is Marvel's weakest Netflix series, given the widespread critical opinion that it's a boring and offensive mess."  Yes, the three-dozen TV critics who panned it all agree that the most-viewed Marvel Netflix show is a failure. Ready yourselves for the hypocrisy as the exact same reviewers fall over themselves praising The Defenders despite it having the same issues they fretted over in Iron Fist.

Reports from way back in August mentioned that a White Tiger series was one of four Marvel properties pitched to Netflix.  The rumours come from two sources (Bleeding Cool and Screen Geek)--given that the latter includes something we already know is wrong (Shang Chi appearing in Iron Fist) the former seems more accurate.  What's interesting about this idea is that Angela del Toro has already been name-dropped in Jessica Jones (which again lends credence to Bleeding Cool, as Screen Geek suggested the Hector Alaya version of the character would be used). For those who don't know, she's a Brian Michael Bendis-created Daredevil character (2003), who also has a connection to Danny Rand. In the comics she's originally a martial artist and FBI agent (a private investigator in Netflix if Jessica Jones is anything to go by) who is empowered by her father's (Hector) magical amulet connecting her to the Tiger God. A lot of her material is tied up with The Hand, but there's no reason for that to remain the case in the show (presumably The Defenders will let us largely move on from the mystical ninjas). The artifact crosses into Moon Knight territory (he's discussed here) if that's going to be a show, and the martial arts steps into Danny Rand territory, but I think there's room for a version of her to be distinctive (having a Hispanic lead would fit Marvel's push for diversity). There's potential here so I'd be excited for a White Tiger show if that's what we get.

Incidentally, in terms of an upper limit to how many superhero-based shows Netflix might do with Marvel, I'd see it ranging from one show every two months up to one a month (assuming viewership is where it needs to be).  While the current crop aren't on proper yearly release schedules, if that were to occur we have five shows now so there's space for more.

We still haven't seen much from the Inhumans, undoubtedly because of all the special effects required to complete it.  The teaser is simply some dialogue between Maximus (Iwan Rheon) and Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) giving us at least one tension of the 8-episode show.  Given how unfamiliar I am with the property I'll need to see more before I have a strong opinion about it.

The Cloak & Dagger trailer was a mixed bag for me; I'm not sold on Olivia Holt as Dagger and I don't like the pair having met as children (it's cheesy and reminds me of Fringe among other things; I much prefer their comic book origin); the show is aimed at teens and that's very apparent (something I can live with even if it makes it less interesting).  Otherwise I was happy with it (and the Roxxon easter egg is a nice touch).

There hasn't been much news besides the announcement of the show itself.  We do know the team's composition: Squirrel Girl, Mister Immortal, Night Thrasher, Speedball, Microbe, and Debril. The show itself is confirmation of a rumour from September.

There's not much to take away from the brief Runaways trailer, which simply goes over their origin (if I was going to venture anything I'd say its tone reminded me a little of Buffy).

Although not directly connected to the MCU, Fox has been busy adding TV shows (The Gifted, which replaced Hellfire, and an animated Deadpool), something requiring Marvel's cooperation, as they still own the TV rights.  We have yet to see what deal was struck that's allowing Fox to produce shows connected to its own cinematic universe, but it's not unreasonable to guess it's something like the return of The Fantastic Four (something Feige, much like Spider-Man, isn't going to own up too until it's dramatically appropriate).

This is unrelated to TV properties, but it's difficult to know what to make of Sony's announced plans to have Spider-Man related movies without any connection to the MCU Spider-Man (the Venom and Silver Sable movies).  I don't think the former can work without Spidey's involvement, while the latter seems more suited to TV given how little-known the character is.  Could both be a bluff to make a better deal with Marvel?  Are they a sign that Sony wants to pull away from the MCU?  It's far too early to tell, but both were projects in the works long before Sony pulled the plug on the Andrew Garfield-lead Spiderverse.  My hope remains that there will be a new deal or that Sony will simply sell the rights back to Marvel, but time will tell.

This is self-indulgent of me, but I was curious about the ever-changing DCEU film slate (it's so hard to keep track of) and thankfully Movie Pilot posted a recent list of the evolution (full disclosure: I was always more of a Marvel-reader, but I was a fan of the classic Teen Titans run in the 80s along with some other scattered titles of that period--I'd like the DCEU to become successful):
Announced in 2014
Batman v Superman (March 25, 2016) - released as planned
Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016) - released as planned
Woman Woman (June 23, 2017) - date moved to June 2 (dodging Transformers and providing some distance from Spider-Man)
Justice League: Part One (November 17, 2017)
The Flash (March 23, 2018) - two directors walked over creative differences and it's been detached from its release date (it still lacks a director)
Aquaman (July 27, 2018) - initially the date moved to October 5, but now it's December 21 (maybe this was to avoid competition with Venom, but it could simply be for added production time)
Shazam! (April 5, 2019) - split into two movies (Black Adam and Shazam!), with the former having no date attached to it
Justice League: Part Two (July 14, 2019) - removed from its release date and in limbo
Cyborg (April 3, 2020)
Green Lantern Corps (June 19, 2020) - date moved to July 24

Added Since then:
-Lobo was announced (March, 2016)
-Man of Steel 2 was put into active production (August, 2016)
-Suicide Squad 2 (December, 2016) - believed a candidate to be fast-tracked for 2018
-Gotham City Sirens (December, 2016) - believed to be a candidate to be fast-tracked for 2018
-Deadshot (December, 2016)
-Batman (December, 2016) - originally slatted for a 2019 release, the change in director (Affleck leaving and Matt Reeves coming on board) has pushed things back to 2020
-Nightwing (February, 2017)
-Batgirl (March, 2017)

The impression is one of chaos; undoubtedly a lot of the scrambling is intended to fill the void that stretches from Justice League to Aquaman--a year without DCEU films.  Of the various films above it wouldn't surprise me if both Cyborg and Deadshot were ultimately shelved--the former will depend heavily on the reception of the character in Justice League while the latter seems largely like a sop for Will Smith's ego.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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