Saturday, June 6, 2015

Why Netflix Might Be A Better Format For The Marvel Cinematic Universe Than Feature Films

Marvel's Daredevil recently hit Netflix and was a big hit.  After watching it I was reflecting on it and on the MCU in general, and it occurs to me that Netflix, or a similar platform, might actually be the perfect format for the MCU.  Here are the is why.



Comics are a serial type of story telling.  Each story builds on the last one.  The movies do this, but are limited by two factors.  One is that the studio can only put out a few movies a year.  This means a much slower progression in the story, and you only get a few hours a year to build your story.  With a show you get several episodes to build your story.  The second factor is that each movie has to be crafted so that it stands alone.  Film makers want the widest possible audience, so any dependence on other movies or shows is going to be minimized as much as possible.

One advantage of serial story telling is character development.  You have time to build your characters.  In movies you have a couple of hours to establish your characters and tell you story.  Only characters that carry over from film to film get any chance to really grow or change.  This is why Marvel has the issues they have with their villains.  There is not enough time to flesh them out or make them relatable in any meaningful way.

The best villains in the MCU so far have been Kingpin from Daredevil and the villains from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  This is because they had the time to build these characters, and make us understand why they were the way they were.  Grant Ward's betrayal would not have had the same impact had it happened an hour and a half after we met him.  Since we were given a chance to get to know the character over a season, he has become one of the MCU's most effective bad guys.

Netflix has the advantage over ABC, though, in that shows can be darker, more violent, explore heavier themes if and when necessary.  AoS is a lot of fun and has gotten very good.  But Daredevil is on another level of story telling, being able to get into more complex themes.  Of course, the target audience is different, and not all the shows need to be the same.  It is fine to have AoS remain more family friendly.  The main argument for having everything in one place is just to make it easier for the fans.  More people will get involved with all the shows if they are easily found in one place.

I know the MCU is not going to abandon feature films any time soon, they make too much money.  But maybe some day we will see Netflix shows carry most of the weight, and movies be used for big crossover events and such.  That would give the best of both worlds.


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