For those of us who love comics, the announcement that Marvel TV inked a four franchise deal with Netflix in 2013 to take some of their grittier properties and make TV shows out of them was a little confusing. Obviously, Rated R properties have no place in Marvel Studios new cinematic feature film universe which is decidedly PG-13, but would the Netflix shows be cheap, hokey takeoffs on these Marvel properties? (After all, Marvel TV’s own Agents of Shield on ABC has been hemorrhaging fans since its creation.)
However, when I sat down to look up the new series, I was immediately shocked to see that my super-specific Netflix rating was giving me a perfect five star rating to like the show.
If you’re not familiar, Netflix rating system is one of the most powerful in the industry. It does a better job at learning from your input what you like in films than gmail does at learning what spam you want kept out of your email. With over 700 points of comparison from my own filmophile entries, Netflix recommendations have become a rock solid measuring stick of what films and shows I’ll like. When it gives a perfect five, it usually is nailing something I’ll love. (My beloved Burn Notice was the last near perfect five I received, I believe. That rating was why I tried it out in the first place.)
As I was about to watch it the day after it dropped, however, the score could easily have been inflated due to initial buzz. However, to my great joy, I discovered it was not. (If you haven’t watched the show yet, check out the trailer below.)
The show managed to use the same cutting edge filmmaking we’ve seen in House of Cards to create something captivating and intense. However, beyond that, the shows structure, cinematography, and writing just FELT like a graphic novel, with none of the hyper-stylism of movies like Sin City or A Dame to Kill For. More than that, in a world of smart cable shows like Breaking Bad, Hell on Wheels, and the Walking Dead, Daredevil created such a rich story and community that you wanted to keep watching, saddened when you had to put the remote away to do grown up things like go to sleep or go to work.
I didn’t think it was possible for a Marvel property to feel more like the comic books than their current cinematic universe, but I was wrong. Daredevil shows that the greatest days of comic storytelling may just be dawning. With at least three more series–AKA Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, which will each be released a year apart, and a possible Defender’s style miniseries (think a much grittier version of the Avengers) to be released from the Marvel catalog on Netflix, only time will tell if they can keep the quality up to the bar they just set. (If you want to be amused, read this article on the upcoming line up which was published last year, and then make note of the comments where people were predicting that all the shows would suck–followed by updates in the last 72 hours in which readers make fun of the earlier predictions after watching and LOVING the show.)
If they can, it may only be a matter of time before non-watered down Vertigo properties from DC/WB–whose own CW-creations Arrow and Gotham have apparently begun to crash. I can’t even tell you how excited I would be to see Y: The Last Man or Sandman make their way to this sort of Netflix treatment!
Now we just need to figure out whether there will be more seasons of Daredevil in the pipeline. Strangely enough, the original agreement between Marvel TV and Netflix didn’t take into account anything like the amazing response people have had to this. As such, they assumed that each of the four series would function like a 13 hour long movie that would pass off the narrative to the next character, with a the Defenders Team up show at the end. In all, no more than 60 hours of new content were agreed to. Hopefully, an amended contract which will permit separate seasons can be agreed to, because it would be a travesty to essentially get one run of an amazing comic book and be told: sorry, plug’s pulled! (And you can pretty much guarantee that Netflix will have Marvel-level riders on any and all IP series they discuss in the future so they never again find themselves in a situation with a best selling product and no way to fulfill demand for more of it!)
I’ll close with an interview from Collider with Daredevil Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight on the possibility of a Season 2 (which they proactively did before the official release based on the strength of the first five episodes the press was pre-screened with):