Netflix cloaks itself in Marvel superheroes

The online video site has cut a deal with Marvel parent Disney for a number of series based on Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and other super-powered characters.

Netflix is adding live-action series of Daredevil and other Marvel heroes to its lineup.
Netflix is adding live-action series of Daredevil and other Marvel heroes to its lineup. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Marvel fans will be able to get their superhero fix in 2015 when Netflix unveils four different live-action series based on comic book characters.

In a deal announced Thursday between Marvel owner Disney and Netflix, the lineup will debut with a show focused on Daredevil, the red-clad adventurer whose alter ego is blind attorney Matt Murdock. Another series will focus on Jessica Jones, a superhero who's gone through a few different identities in the Marvel universe.

A third series will cover the exploits of Iron Fist, a hero known for his martial arts skills, followed by a fourth series featuring Luke Cage, a street-savvy hero with steel-hard skin and powers to match.

Netflix promises that the series will take viewers into "the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell's Kitchen, New York." So far, all four series have received a commitment of 13 episodes each, guaranteeing at least one full season apiece.

The capper to the four shows will be a miniseries based on Marvel's Defenders, a team that in the Marvel comic book universe has included the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, and the Sub-Mariner. Netflix has dubbed its version of the the Defenders a "team of self-sacrificing, heroic characters."

"This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content, and characters across all platforms of storytelling," Marvel Entertainment president Alan Fine said in a statement. "Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel's specialty. This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what's sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure."

The deal seems like a super coup for Netflix, which has already done well with "House of Cards" and other original series. Thanks to "The Avengers" and related Marvel comic book films, the new series should have a built-in audience eager to see more heroes on the small screen.

However, the commitment to four individual series could also be a gamble for Netflix. The heroes featured in the new shows are lesser-known characters in the Marvel universe and lack the star power of an Iron Man, a Thor, or a Captain America. Marvel's latest foray into TV is "Agents of SHIELD," created by "Avengers" director and cult favorite Joss Whedon. But the new series continues to slip in the ratings, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Daredevil, Luke Cage, and the other heroes will certainly appeal to many Marvel fans. But Netflix and Marvel will need to make sure the episodes are exciting and enticing enough to draw in an even wider number of viewers.

 

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