Marvel Studios made quite the huge headlines in the geek world last week, when they announced four upcoming series for Netflix streaming starting in 2015, featuring their "street level" heroes Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones, who will then team up in the mini-series event The Defenders after having completed a 13 episode season for each of the solo characters. This is a huge and unprecedented move on Marvel Studios, who are on a major roll lately (they had a couple movies come out lately that did pretty well. Ya might have heard of 'em.) Right now, the details on these shows are all but non-existent, but their announcement alone leaves many questions in this Marvel fanboy's head. Here are but ten of them.
1. Will Doctor Strange Gather This Version of The Defenders?
In the comics, the Defenders always had a pretty fluid membership. Although both Daredevil and Luke Cage were occasional members, the main, core line-up of the team consisted of Doctor Strange, the Hulk, and Namor the Submariner. Well, the particular line-up is highly unlikely, due to the fact that Namor is currently in development limbo at Universal, and Marvel Studios can't use him (yet.) The Hulk is comfortably a part of the Avengers. Only Stephen Strange remains from the comic's original main comic book cast who could conceivably take part in some way in a Defenders series.
We know that Marvel Studios has a Doctor Strange movie in active development for "Phase Three", and it heavily rumored to be their unnamed film for one of the two movies coming out summer 2016 (the other is likely a third Thor or Captain America) We also know that the first of the Marvel Netflix shows (probably Daredevil) won't premier until 2015. So let's say we get two of those series that first year, with the two other following the next year. That means we might not get the Defenders mini-series till late 2016, early 2017 even...possibly after a Doctor Strange movie has come out.
Although a television Defenders series probably will keep things street level and not involve too much magic and mystism, there has to be at least a certain amount of it, due to Iron Fist having a quasi-mystical background. To ensure these TV Defenders aren't just Defenders in name only, and have some ties to the comic, should our future Doc Strange be the one who gathers them all together in the mini series? Strange has been maybe the only consistent thing throughout the various incarnations of the team over the years, from the seventies and eighties team, to the early nineties "Secret Defenders," to the most recent version by Matt Fraction. If anyone can make this crossover between the movies and the shows happen, and get a decent actor to sign on the dotted line for both a movie and TV appearance, it's gonna be Kevin Feige and Marvel.
2. Will We Get A Black Widow Appearance in Daredevil?
This one may seem like a long shot, what with Scarlett Johansson being a big-time movie star and all, but go with me here: In the comics, one of Matt Murdock's most serious and long time love interests was none other than the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff. She even had second billing in his title for awhile in the seventies, when for about two years the book was officially titled Daredevil and The Black Widow. Could Marvel/Disney convince Scarlett to do a one or two episode arc on Daredevil for the right price? Lots of movie actors are being drawn to the Netflix model of television these days, like with Kevin Spacey with House of Cards. And by all account, Miss Johansson seems to genuinely love playing Black Widow, as she's about to play the character for her third and fourth time in the next two years. Stranger things have happened.
3. Will We See The Daughters of the Dragon, Colleen Wing & Misty Knight?
With both Luke Cage and Iron Fist getting series as part of this Netflix deal, it begs the question of whether or not two of their most prominent supporting players will appear in one or both of their series, Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. Originally appearing in the Marvel Premiere series in the seventies, the ass-kicking martial arts duo better known as the Daughters of the Dragon quickly moved on to appearances all over the Marvel Universe (Misty Knight was even the roommate of the X-Men's Jean Grey at one point) before eventually joining Power-Man and Iron Fist in their title. With both of these guys getting shows, could the Daughters of the Dragon be the early connective tissue between both series? And more importantly, will Misty Knight keep her signature Foxy Brown fro?
4. Will Jessica Jones Be "Jewel" or Just Jessica Jones, P.I.?
In the original comic book series in which she first appeared, Alias, Jessica Jones was a private investigator who was once a former superhero, code-named Jewel, who had a short-lived career in tights. The book introduced our heroine some years after she had given up the name and costume of Jewel, and had changed her life after undergoing several traumatic incidents while attempting to be a superhero.
Will the show follow the same format, or will Jessica start out as superheroine Jewel and then have us witness her journey as she decides she's not really Avengers material, and takes up a whole new career? Another question is how much interaction prior to the Defenders mini series will Luke Cage and Jessica have? These two ultimately get married and have a baby together in the comics, after all. So will they make appearances in each other's shows - and beds - before joining up in the Defenders?
5. How Much Of The SHIELD And Avengers Universe Will We See In The Defenders?
It's pretty safe to say that the Avengers, at least as a team, won't be making an appearance on any of these shows. So sorry, all you old school Marvel Zombie fanboys out there - don't expect an adaptation of the classic Avengers/Defenders War storyline from the comics at any point on television. But how much of an influence will the shadow of the Avengers have over the formation of the Defenders? And more to the point, will SHIELD be involved? At this point, there has only ever been one super team in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the Fantastic Four and the X-Men reside elsewhere. Will the formation of the Defenders be a direct answer to the Avengers, a super-team for the little guy? Will SHIELD see them as a threat or something to protect? There's a lot of story fodder to consider, even without the Avengers ever actually appearing.