Marvel’s live action films/television/internet shows are too spread out. Is it time to say farewell to Marvel Netflix?
The MCU should feel like a great big body of water. It should be an ocean, with some connected bays at the edges of the ocean, and some rivers that go into the land masses. Instead, it’s inadvertently become a mess of separated lakes that don’t touch each other. That’s great for realistic geography, but bad for storytelling.
By trying to spread out too far too fast, the MCU has lost connective tissue between its different parts. It should be an ocean…the films of the MCU all feel connected to each other. Outside of the films, though, the connective tissue dissolves. Each lake is its own thing.
Even the first spinoff series, ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, feels all alone these days. Aside from a few cameos of Nick Fury and Sif and some villains prior to the introduction of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, there has been little back-and-forth between the MCU and AoS.
Considering how ubiquitous SHIELD had been in the early movies, this is sloppy writing. Not one of the actual agents has even made a cameo in any of the films, even just by name. Maybe this is because Marvel only wants Nick Fury to be the director of SHIELD in the movies in the minds of the general public. If that’s the case then they should have pulled the plug on AoS a long time ago.
They should have done this anyway, as the latest season (the one set in space) was so awful that I couldn’t force myself to watch it. It had a chance to end on a high note during the Ghost Rider/imitation Matrix season, but ABC just chose to drag it back again.
Just to get it out of the way, there’s Cloak & Dagger on Freeform. Much to my surprise, this show is not bad. Well acted and nicely written, it failed to have any noticeable connection to the MCU. If it did, it was probably only by name. Was the fictitious evil corporate energy company Roxxon mentioned in any of the MCU films?
Then there’s Runaways on Hulu. I can’t even say anything about Runaways because I don’t have Hulu. That’s the problem right there. Sure, there’s nothing stopping me from getting Hulu, I just don’t feel the need. Much like Freeform, Hulu shouldn’t have been a land mass in which Marvel tried to create artificial lakes. The kind that don’t connect to the MCU ocean.
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Marvel had initially succeeded with its Marvel Netflix series. They felt connected to the MCU, as if we were given a chance to see it at both a ground level and a microscopic level. Long seasons provided for in-depth storytelling and allowed actors to shine.
I would bet that if you added up all of the actual screen time, Alfre Woodard’s time as Mariah Dillard time probably rivals that of Scarlet Johansen as Black Widow. This is probably the biggest strength of the Netflix shows. It lets actors act. There have been episodes of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage that were light on effects, but were so absolutely rich in writing and acting that you’d never miss them.
The Netflix shows are so much fun, and yet they now feel removed from the MCU. The most recent season of Luke Cage mentioned Justin Hammer’s tech, which works for the character of Luke Cage and his need for a kryptonite, so to speak. The latest season of Iron Fist mentioned Sokovia, in a very strained writing attempt to tether Typhoid Mary to the MCU.
The biggest problem with the dying connective tissue, from a realistic writing standpoint, is that the Netflix characters should have shown up in Avengers: Infinity War. When Thanos’ goons invaded New York, where were the Defenders? It’s pretty hard to believe (yes, I know this is just fiction, after all) that Luke Cage or Jessica Jones wouldn’t have gotten into the fray.
Likewise, the most recent seasons of Netflix have made no mention of the fact that half of the people on the planet were turned to dust by Thanos’ finger snap. Seems like something that should have been weaved into the storylines, doesn’t it?
So, now we’ve learned that Netflix is pulling the plug on the Marvel shows, as an obvious (but reasonable) response the creation of Disney+.
Oh, Marvel. Stupid, Marvel. Why you have to go and make things so complicated, if I may borrow from the great mind of Avril Lavigne. The latest seasons of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Daredevil were all great. (Full disclosure: I’m that rarest of viewers who even liked season one of Iron Fist). And although the latest season of Jessica Jones was a never-ending road, the acting remained perfect.
Much like Hulu, I won’t take the time to get Disney+. So I won’t get to see the further adventures of Falcon, Winter Soldier or Scarlet Witch. This is probably a smart business move for the MCU, and one that hopefully one that can reconnect the bodies of water. It’s just not one I have any interest in.
If Marvel had bothered to remember that the properties should have remained linked to each other, the need to tidy up things wouldn’t even be necessary. While Disney/Marvel creating its own streaming service is smart from a business standpoint and even a quality control standpoint, it has a ‘conquering corporate dynasty’ feel to it that leaves me cold.
I don’t know if I’m happy that the Netflix shows are going way or disappointed by it. Odd.
Mike Devine is a geek who likes GI Joe, Star Wars, chocolate, and many pop culture things. He is a reoccurring writer for joeaday.com and can’t stop customizing figures. He has previously worked at the sub-sub-sub contractor level for comic book companies, doing prep work for colorists, as well as some lettering.