Last week news broke that Marvel Studios has begun shopping a package of four series and one miniseries to television networks and other outlets like Netflix and Amazon. All told this package is said to consist of 60 total episodes and, should it get picked up, would mark possibly the largest up-front commitment ever by a broadcaster. The early ratings success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has apparently bolstered Marvel’s confidence in the potential of their properties to work on live-action television, and they seem to be going all in here. The question now becomes: which of their numerous characters are a part of this huge deal? Here are a few theories, listed in order of likelihood based on current and past rumors and my knowledge of the properties to which Marvel Studios has the rights, including some that they have just recently regained from Fox and Sony. And I’ve even thrown in some thoughts on what a potential show based on each character might look like.
Let’s start with the property that’s received the most attention from the rumor mill lately. Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger as a British soldier and Steve Rogers’ eventual love interest. The series is currently in early stages of development and would likely follow the storyline set up in a “one-shot” short film included as a special feature on the DVD for Iron Man 3, which takes place a year after Captain America and ends with Carter being recruited by Tony Stark’s father to a leadership position in S.H.I.E.L.D.
Everyone remembers the highly flawed – to put it politely – movie with Ben Affleck, but the failures of that film have given the character a bad rap and belie the ways Daredevil could work beautifully on the small screen. One of the biggest obstacles superhero TV shows face is the need for a big budget in order to adequately portray superpowers. But with Daredevil this would barely be an issue. For those who don’t know, when Matt Murdock lost his sight as a child, his other senses became heightened and he gained a “radar sense,” which acts as a sort of sonar to allow him to effectively “see” his surroundings. All this would require from an F/X standpoint is some version of night-vision or infrared-style camera work, so it wouldn’t be a strain on the show’s budget.
Superpowers aside, a Daredevil series would also be able to capitalize on the success of courtroom procedurals thanks to Matt Murdock’s job as a defense attorney for the downtrodden. I could see the show following a standard case-of-the-week format, with each episode building towards Murdock discovering the identity of the mysterious man known as the Kingpin, who is rumored to be in control of all organized crime in New York City. Daredevil also has a number of interesting supporting characters that would translate very well to TV. I personally would love to see a season-long arc building on the antagonistic/romantic relationship between Daredevil and Elektra, or the ever-growing rivalry with the marksman Bullseye. Those two characters in particular were handled awfully in the film, so this would be a great opportunity for Marvel to make up for Fox’s mistakes.
Like Daredevil, the Punisher has found zero big-screen success thanks to filmmakers’ insistence on surrounding the vigilante with as much camp as humanly possible. It’s a shame, because both Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson were pretty solid choices for Frank Castle. It’s about time Punisher was taken seriously. This is a guy who takes criminals out with extreme prejudice, so Netflix or HBO would be great venues to do the violent and gritty nature of the character justice.
The focus of a Punisher series should be on Castle’s budding war against organized crime and include flashbacks to happier times before his family was murdered in order to build his backstory. Both Punisher movies (or all three, if we’re counting the Dolph Lundgren one from the ‘80s) failed to adequately develop the character past “big guy with lots of weapons,” but with a whole slate of hour-long episodes at their disposal, Marvel could do a lot to add depth to the anti-hero that’s been lacking so far.
Heroes for Hire
If there’s one trend in my list of possible/probable Marvel TV shows, it’s that the powers of the heroes involved can be easily portrayed on a television budget. That might be most true of the two men who are the source of the title. Heroes for Hire is a super-powered private investigation agency founded by Luke Cage, aka Power Man, and Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist. Both men’s powers are straightforward enough: Cage is super strong with impenetrable skin, and Iron Fist is a world-class martial artist who can channel his Chi both into his fist in order to make it superhumanly strong and durable, making his hand a deadly weapon, and to heal himself and others.
The series would likely follow a similar case-of-the-week format as my proposed Daredevil show, with the procedural aspects also serving to build up an overarching storyline that brings in a real threat to Cage and Iron Fist. Again, the action scenes would not require a huge budget, so hopefully whatever money might have been spent on effects showing more complicated powers could be used on a strong writing team.
The wonderful part being that some of the same underworld characters from Daredevil and/or Punisher could show up as antagonists in Heroes for Hire, and vice versa. A shared universe with multiple TV shows going on at the same time opens up a world of possibilities for they kind of crossovers and interwoven storylines that make the Marvel comics so much fun to read.
As for the possible miniseries Marvel is shopping, there are any number of storylines that could be coopted for television. I would like to see Marvel use the miniseries format to bring all of the aforementioned characters (except for Peggy Carter) together into one crossover story called Marvel Knights, which is the title of the self-contained comic that often centers on the company’s “street-level” heroes, of which Heroes for Hire, Daredevil, and Punisher are certainly a part. A Marvel Knights miniseries could be the culmination of a cross-pollinating story that involves all four characters, with each finally joining forces to take on a threat bigger than any of them could handle alone, a la The Avengers.
These are one man’s ideas for a fun direction Marvel could take should this 60-episode package pan out. Nothing has been confirmed by the studio as of yet, but it certainly is fun to speculate!