Thursday, October 5, 2017

Marvel TV News

While Netflix continues to torture us by holding back the release date for The Punisher (likely delayed even longer now that its NYCC appearance has been cancelled), we do know a little more about the show, as some of the directors are now listed:
  • Andy Goddard (among his extensive TV credits are solitary episodes for Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil season two)
  • Marc Jobst (a lengthy TV career, he directed solitary episodes of Luke Cage and Daredevil season two)
  • Kari Skogland (extensive TV experience, but this is her first venture into Marvel Netflix)
  • Stephen Surjik (has directed at least one episode of every Marvel Netflix show--a streak that will end with Jessica Jones season two)
  • Jeremy Webb (the same sort of background as Skogland above)

Despite all the negative press there was still anticipation for ABC's Inhumans (at least, judging by this chart via Rotten Tomatoes). How did that register in the ratings? Variety noted it beat its 8pm competition in the coveted 18-49 demographic, while just losing out in the 9pm slot. Bleeding Cool noted it's numbers were superior to both Agents of SHIELD's normal numbers and its season four finale. Given the critical drubbing this is a solid opening--episode three will provide insight into how fans reacted to the TV pilot, albeit it's future is up in the air and likely controlled by Disney. One of the funny results of all the negative buzz is that there is buzz (unlike The Gifted, see below), so that people are curious about it even if they perceive it as a train wreck.

Speaking of the show, I posted a review looking at the differences between the movie and TV versions.

I've been thinking about the release dates for the Marvel Netflix shows. Prior to 2017 there had never been more than two shows released in a year. The current overlapping filming schedules suggest we'll be getting seasons much more rapidly, albeit we don't know just how quickly since Netflix drags its heels with Marvel release announcements. The best way to illustrate this is to look at what's happened in the past along with what we know about the future:

Daredevil (1): filming July-December (5 months), released in April, 2015 (4 months later)
Jessica Jones (1): filming February-August (6 months), released in November, 2015 (3 months)
Daredevil (2): filming July-December (5 months), released in March, 2016 (3 months)
Luke Cage (1): filming September-March (6 months), released in September, 2016 (6 months)
Iron Fist (1): filming April-October (6 months), released in March, 2017 (5 months)
The Defenders (1): filming October-March (5 months), released in August, 2017 (5 months)

The Punisher (1): filming October-April (6 months), released Oct/Nov, 2017 (6/7 months)
Jessica Jones (2): filming April-September (5 months)
Luke Cage (2): filming June-December (6 months)
Daredevil (3): filming October*-c.March
Iron Fist (2): filming January*-c.May

The gap between the end of filming and release seems to be growing longer (5-6 months of late), but I think that's less a trend and more to do with specific circumstance.  With this in mind we can speculate on release dates. So far the shortest gap between releases has been four months (between JJ and DD2), which will be beat by Punisher at 2 or 3 (I'll look at 3 or 4 month rotations and see how they fit):
JJ2 - January/February - January seems most likely to me, with February having Black Panther as its focus
LC2 - April-June - April; seems prudent to avoid Infinity War (May), albeit the four-month schedule would put it in May if my JJ prediction is correct
DD3 - July-October - July (makes the most sense on the 3-month rotation); this becomes September on the 4-month schedule if my JJ prediction is correct
IF2 - October-February - October; in the 4-month version this is January, both of which are empty of comparable competition

To summarize: for a three-month rotation I see JJ in January, LC in April, DD in July, and IF in October; on a four-month rotation it's January, May, September, and January.

Interesting news for Luke Cage season two has come out, as Entertainment Weekly has confirmed that Danny Rand will be appearing in the show. This makes a lot of sense, given that we know Misty Knight is joining Iron Fist season two, and further boosts the Heroes for Hire bond teased in The Defenders. I'd guess the appearance will be in the nature of a cameo (based on the fact that Finn Jones has been on the convention circuit while LC2 has been filming the last three plus months--and is just starting his Kung Fu training only recently (see below). It is possible, incidentally, that his scenes were shot at the beginning of the LC2 shoot before The Defenders dropped (which would also suggest just a cameo). I like the idea of the Netflix characters popping up in each other's shows and I hope we get more of it.

Finn Jones has started training for the next season of Iron Fist. If we can take his previous comments literally (that he's training for 4-5 months) than we can expect filming to begin in January or February (completing in July/August and production completed October/November).

Just an incidental about the show: I've been pointing out for awhile that it's far more popular than given credit for, but it's true that it is the only show that people actively hate. While other shows have disliked elements, they don't get active hate. Iron Fist is pretty polarizing--people either liked it or they actively despise it (interestingly, the latter are often fans of the comics). Overcoming the latter sentiment is probably going to require critical praise, but whether that ship has sailed or not remains to be seen.

There has been very little buzz about the Runaways even though it's just two months away (perhaps NYCC will change that). One interesting thing about it is that MCU guru Kevin Feige has a producer credit for the show, which is highly unusual for Marvel TV (the only other TV property he's been involved with was Agent Carter)--I wonder what brought him to the Hulu project?

A thought going back to the news that The Defenders viewership numbers in the US were low: whatever feedback Netflix gets on why this is can't be incorporated into plans for Jessica Jones season two (filming is complete), Luke Cage season two (filming is ongoing), or have much impact on Daredevil season three (filming will start soon so the scripts and storyline are already done). I think the lesson has already been learned however, as Netflix waived goodbye to the Hand--both JJ and LC would have more grounded stories anyway, and it's clear DD3 will follow suit (I have no idea what Iron Fist season two will be like--scripts are likely still being written for it and the only known change is that Finn Jones will be better at Kung Fu--see above).

The Gifted, despite critical praise, is receiving a very muted response (eg Emergency Awesome's Charlie Schneider bailed on plans to make videos about it). I watched it and it looked exactly like what you'd expect a Bryan Singer-directed pilot would look like: everything is dark, gritty, and firmly rooted in 1980s X-Men themes. I thought the acting was largely histrionic (clearly a product of the directing), with the plot unimaginative and derivative. Polaris was the best thing about the show and while things could improve a lot needs to change for it to succeed. The metaphor of mutants as a prosecuted minority without set-up doesn't really work anymore--superheroes have broad popular appeal so the conceit requires actual buy-in (they have to be presented as a threat first), which the show doesn't attempt. Not much effort is put Polaris' crew (Jamie Chung's Blink is a big step down from Bingbing Fan's in Days of Future Past), while the Strucker family comes across as bland and generic (with Lauren unsympathetic and annoying and her brother Andy simply annoying). Will the show be a success? It's hard to say, but the lack of buzz and the heavy competition from other superhero shows means it has a tough hill to climb (and how do you continue to seem gritty when The Punisher drops?).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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