Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Marvel TV News

The first official trailer dropped and did a great job introducing the premise and tone of the show. The marketing in general has been excellent and I'd expect it to have big numbers on release. While the release date remains unknown, it's generally believed to be November 10th (the Netflix shows are always dropped on Friday and this is the Friday just before Veteran's Day--as well as the day the marine's were founded). Exactly why Netflix is dragging out the announcement is unknown.

It's been teased that the series will feature a hero cameo. Initially there was no hint if it was a new or established hero appearing, but subsequently Jon Berthnal said the show would have no connection to The Defenders, so it must be someone new. The only speculation I've seen is that it's Moon Knight, but as Marc Specter rather than his costumed identity. The reason for the speculation is that Specter has roots in the military (as a marine and a mercenary). Talk of a Moon Knight series goes back a long way, with at least one major rumour each of the last four years (even James Gunn pitched a Moon Knight movie idea, although I think the character works better on Netflix). He's not someone who would appeal to Disney's new (in 2019) streaming service, but certainly fits Netflix's darker tone.

We also got confirmation of something IMDB has had listed for months: Turk Barrett will appear in the show. Turk certainly fits what the show is about, albeit how he survives Frank will be interesting to see. We'll also get to see the Punisher's battle van in the series, and Daredevil regular Brett Mahoney was shown in the trailer so will have at least a cameo.

I saw Inhumans in theaters and while it didn't blow me away, I did enjoy it (my full review is here). I think the series has potential and hope ABC doesn't reactively pull the plug (although that's likely). Did it make sense to put it in theaters? Probably not, although there are Marvel properties that could work with this kind of arrangement.

While the press have pounded away on the Inhumans (futilely perhaps), the numbers could be worse--it's 2.6 million opening weekend beat the comparable Game of Thrones IMAX run in 2015 (vs less screens admittedly). It also beat out the other new releases for that weekend and had a higher per-screen average than the weekend winner. Given all the negativity it's a reasonable haul, but the real question is: what return did IMAX expect in return? It's hard to say--given all the fuss you'd guess more (we know they expected to lose money with the outing, just not how much). Whatever you think of the property, it's pretty clear Scott Buck has to go--he's toxic right now, which makes him a good scapegoat for all the perceived ills at Marvel TV--removing him would provide a fresh start with the agitated critical community.

Speaking of the show, Variety reports from unnamed sources that:
concerns over quality of “Inhumans” episodes — both the special effects of early cuts and the underpinning scripts — were a source of contention between ABC and Marvel
This was picked up by fan cites under clickbaity titles. The former is pretty meaningless (relating to unfinished effects shots, possibly from as long ago as the first trailer or even the leaked version), but the latter is much more interesting. It's without question that ABC won't be happy with the critical drubbing and will worry about the future of it as a TV show, whereas opinions on its box office are hard to parse without knowing the expectations.

Netflix released some interesting data about what shows lead viewers to the various individual Marvel series' leading up to The Defenders:

This variety is a good sign--illustrating that the shows are not just carbon copies of one another. Among the data it turns out internally that Daredevil and Jessica Jones most frequently lead into each other, while Luke Cage and Iron Fist do the same (these synergies are also apparent in The Defenders). Fans of antiheroes came to Daredevil, fans of strong female characters to Jessica Jones, social commentary and (of all things) Stranger Things went to Luke Cage (the latter seems due to how closely the two shows were released), while coming-of-age fans came to Iron Fist (anecdotally it seems like younger fans enjoyed it more than older).

Speaking of Variety, they've reported that the team-up had weaker numbers in the US than all the other individual series'. If these numbers are ultimately confirmed and I had to guess why that is I think it's the choice of enemies--I've been saying since Daredevil season one that the Hand just isn't that interesting. Fans are engaged by more grounded, or at least relatable villains (so Wilson Fisk and Kilgrave, both very different characters, struck a chord--regardless of that latter's powers, he seems like a real person, whereas someone like Nobu is just a weird caricature). It's also possible when the show was released contributed to the problem (none of the previous Netflix shows came out in the summer), but more information will have to come out to judge.

MCU Exchange claims filming for Daredevil season three will begin October 15th, with a completion date of June 30th (this is far longer than the usual Netflix turnarounds, which is six months, ie, April, so if the end date is true it reflects post-production--there was similar confusion in early reports about Luke Cage season two). This means filming will begin soon after Jessica Jones completes (which wrapped September 15th) and would be yet more confirmation that it will air before Iron Fist season two.

The Hashtag Show got hold of a casting call for Daredevil season three and believes it describes the villain Sin-Eater. While the site debates the possible issues of Sin-Eater being a Spider-Man exclusive villain (and therefore Sony property--something I'm not sure actually applies to TV representations), for me the bigger issue is how similar the character is to the Punisher (punishing people for their "sins"). Can you really have a second straight season where Matt confronts a vigilante with a code who is killing people? I don't think so and I don't see how it would mesh with the "Born Again" storyline (neither does Bleeding Cool, albeit for different reasons).

There hasn't been a ton of news for Luke Cage, but we did learn that the little-seen Comanche from season one of Luke Cage will return in season two. Jason Cohen also speculates on who will provide the bionic arm for Misty Knight and his ultimate selection of Tilda Johnson (aka Nightshade) seems reasonable.

Finn Jones says he'll have 4-5 months of training before the next season, which suggests his second season will start filming in December/January. We still have no idea what the plot for the season will be (if Scott Buck had remained it would be Davos and Gao, but I have no idea if the new showrunner will change that). I'm not eager for it to follow suggestions I've seen from various critics which boil down to a David Carridine-esque Kung Fu. Netflix has given us four seasons of enemy ninjas and we need a break.

Evidence continues to accumulate that despite all the negativity Iron Fist scored well in the ratings (beating out such shows as Stranger Things in its first month). It's worth pointing out that deciphering Netflix stats without official numbers isn't easy, but this report reflects what Variety reported months ago from an entirely different source (this information has largely been ignored by fan sites, although a month or so afterwards Armin chimed in). Critical consensus can (and does) change over time (there many examples, you can see lists hereherehere, etc), and while it's unlikely critics will ever be positive about the show, the signs of adjusting opinion continue--eg Sam Bashor's snarky comments from his Defenders review evolved into a conciliatory tone in his Easter Egg video--clearly in response to fan feedback. There seems to be surprise/shock from critics that people genuinely liked the show. The narrative is already changing from it being a terrible show to it simply being the weakest among Marvel's offerings--and I think that's roughly where things will remain even if personally I think it's on par with Luke Cage. The blame for the perceived problems in the show are shifting away from Finn Jones and other performers and being piled onto Scott Buck, which isn't really fair to Buck (he's more culpable for Inhumans), but makes it much easier for the franchise to move on.

Related to the ratings, Caleb Borchers (of the MCU Exchange hivemind) said the following about Iron Fist:
Aside from the quality of those choices (most fans didn’t like it)
This kind of lazy assumption is common for fan sites. What he should say is that most fans liked it, but critics did not. There were similar baseless generalisations for The Defenders as well, but fan backlash had them backpedaling in full speed after a couple of weeks (eg).

In August Cosmic Booknews carried some 4Chan rumours that have subsequently filtered out into other outlets. It consists of a variety of MCU news, some of which touches on rumoured TV properties:
  • a Moon Knight pitch is being considered with James Gunn promoting it--we know this is at least partially true as he did pitch it as a movie
  • there are no plans for a Blade, Ms. Marvel, or Ghost Rider movie--none of which is surprising; the latter's appearance in Agents of SHIELD locked him into the TV world and it seems likely the other two characters (should they appear) share a similar fate from the various rumours we've heard (for example here for Blade and here for Ms. Marvel)--only Kamala Khan seems family friendly enough to appear in the movie, but she likely requires an established Captain Marvel before making that jump (and speculation that she's earmarked for the new Disney channel seems plausible)
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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