No longer just a place to stream past TV shows and movies, Netflix has been producing some really great original content, proving it can compete with the major networks and cable stations. While shows like “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Stranger Things” have been receiving good feedback from fans and critics, my personal favorite Netflix Originals have come from their partnership with Marvel. With the latest Marvel/Netflix show, “Luke Cage,” premiering later this month, I thought this might be a good time to take a look at some of the past and upcoming Marvel/Netflix shows.
My husband isn’t a big fan of TV shows in general, so I’m always excited when I can persuade him to watch something with me. 😉 We started watching “Daredevil” together last spring and were both blown away by how good this show is. It follows a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) who moonlights as a masked vigilante named Daredevil. Since the show isn’t bound by the restrictions of network TV, the show runners aren’t afraid to push the plot to some pretty dark and gritty places. A couple times I actually had to glance away from the screen because the violence was so intense. As good as Cox is as Daredevil, some of the spotlight is stolen by Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin, one of the best portrayals of a villain that I’ve ever seen in a Marvel property. Kingpin is a bad, violent man, but he is not a two-dimensional villain. His tender, poetic romance with an art enthusiast provides a sharp contrast to his life as a crime lord. This show was a fantastic start to the Marvel/Netflix partnership.
Jessica Jones (2015)
Although the first season of “Daredevil” is probably the best Marvel/Netflix production so far, I thought “Jessica Jones” was also very good. Krysten Ritter stars as Jessica Jones, a private investigator with an alcohol problem and a damaged past that still haunts her. David Tennant (who played the tenth Doctor on “Doctor Who”) plays Kilgrave, perhaps the creepiest villain I’ve ever seen. He uses mind control to manipulate people into doing whatever he wants, and it’s usually something terrible. It was a way darker performance than I was used to seeing from Tennant, and I have to admit my cardboard stand-up poster of the tenth Doctor in my basement now freaks me out a little if I go downstairs alone at night. I also appreciated how the story brought awareness to the reality of domestic abuse. While an abuser can appear charming (like Kilgrave does at times), it’s really all part of the manipulation. Also, emotional and verbal abuse — and the insistence on control — are just as terrible as physical abuse.
Daredevil – Season 2 (2016)
The first season of “Daredevil” was simply amazing and set an impossibly high standard, so it’s perhaps inevitable the second season couldn’t quite match it. It has more obvious weaknesses, though the parts that are good are still really good. This season finds Daredevil grappling with two different maybe-allies, maybe-enemies: the Punisher and Elektra. While Jon Bernthal was riveting as the violent vigilante who lives by his own code, I didn’t think the character Elektra worked quite as well here. Her character ended up being a little distracting, and her story arc just wasn’t as strong as the Punisher’s. Maybe they should have saved her for a different season. However, I’m excited to hear the Punisher is getting his own Netflix series. I like that the show runners just let Punisher revel in his moral gray area; we’re never quite sure if he’s a hero who has gone too far or a bad man who just happens to be fighting against people who are even worse. Regardless, he’s a fascinating character.
Luke Cage (Sept. 30, 2016)
The newest Marvel show premiering on Netflix is “Luke Cage.” We got to know the character a little bit through “Jessica Jones,” and I’m excited he’s now getting his own show. In terms of his powers, Luke Cage is pretty much indestructible, but like many of these heroes, he’s haunted by some of the ghosts from his past. A man of few words, he’s not really looking to be a public hero like one of the Avengers; he’s just a guy trying to protect his neighborhood. I think this character will also give show runners an opportunity to explore some timely issues, in the same way that “Jessica Jones” covered domestic abuse. I’d love to see Jessica Jones show up in a few episodes, since she and Luke Cage had such an interesting dynamic, but it will be nice to have this hero shine on his own.
Iron Fist and The Defenders (coming in 2017)
After the introduction of another hero — martial arts expert Iron Fist — Marvel and Netflix will launch their own version of the Avengers with “The Defenders,” which brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron First. While I wish the show runners had held off a bit and given us second seasons for ALL the characters before launching a team-up, I’m really curious to see how these characters interact together, since they all have such different personalities and philosophies on vigilantism (I’m thinking Jessica Jones and Daredevil especially are going to clash).
So, what do you think? Which Marvel/Netflix show is your favorite, or which one are you most looking forward to?