In easily the most significant original program deal in its history, Netflix just announced that Marvel's "Flawed Heroes of Hell's Kitchen" will come to the streaming service as four separate series, along with a miniseries based on "The Defenders."
Arrival date: 2015, but Netflix and ABC said the shows will roll out over years.
And to quote directly from the news release... "Led by a series focused on “Daredevil,” followed by “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage,” the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, 13 episodes series and a culminating Marvel’s “The Defenders” miniseries event that re-imagines a dream team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters.
"The Defenders?" That's another whole pod of superheroes, including Doctor Strange, the sorcerer who protects the earth against magical thingamajigs, and whatnots.
Jones -- Marvel fans know -- was present and accounted for when Peter Parker had a fateful meeting with an arachnid, which led to his conversion to arachohumanoid, while she later survived a car crash, was irradiated, and -- after a long coma -- emerged with special powers of her own.
Casting on all this to be determined, but the significance is (umm) significant: "The Avengers, "Iron Man" and "Thor" have emerged as some of the world's biggest theatrical franchises, and the assumption probably has to be that these will assume a considerable life force of their own, too.
I suppose the odd thing is -- why isn't Disney developing some of this for ABC? Isn't that the network Disney already owns? The obvious answer I'm guessing is this: Netflix came up with the money, and a lot of it. All of the networks love Netflix these days -- not seeing it as an enemy or even frenemy but as a source of funds and added life for franchise network series.
There's another possible answer too: Netflix could conceivably be the perfect place for a Marvel deep dive. After all, we are now getting into the true arcana of the vast Marvel universe -- come on, how many of you really know who Jessica Jones is? Or care? -- and while this may be thrilling for the true-blue fanboys and girls out there, the average viewer is almost certainly befuddled by all this, or deeply bored. "Agents of S.H. I. E. L. D.," after a torrid start on ABC has cooled off dramatically, but a Netflix series offers a different sort of experience for fans -- who don't want to tune in every Tuesday night at 8, or even stream at ABC.com or Hulu later in the week.
Netflix theoretically gives the average Marvel fan exactly what he or she wants: Something they can consume in one messy gulp, overnight or during a weekend, and then return, again and again, to gulp again. The numbers may be small, but in aggregate huge, and can continue on for years. The life span on ABC would be a fraction of that.
Another quote, from Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos: “Marvel’s movies, such as Iron Man and Marvel’s The Avengers, are huge favorites on our service around the world. Like Disney, Marvel is a known and loved brand that travels. With House of Cards and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we’re thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude.”