Partnership with Netflix expects female-led show to break traditional superhero mold

by Georgianna Pisano-Goetz

Lest the excitement of Thor 2’s arrival wear off along with the outlandish eyebrow-raising after-credits scene, Marvel has already announced its next venture — and it won’t take place on the big screen, but is still just as exciting. Marvel Studios will be pairing with Netflix to stream several new shows with the service, which will come together in a miniseries called The Defenders.

Despite what you may know already about the Defenders team in the Marvel comics, the team we’ll see on television appears to be a mix of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones. For those of you unfamiliar with the comics, Daredevil may be the only one you recognize, but trust me when I say they’re all great. The characters are street-level superheros, which means they rarely deal with the shady government SHIELD agencies, and the whole point is that the world doesn’t recognize them.

Each character will get a 13-episode series on Netflix, all of which will take place in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Each character has a distinct feel; you already know the blind lawyer with heightened senses, Matt Murdock by day and Daredevil by night. Luke Cage is an intimidating, nearly indestructible African American man, while Iron Fist is the martial arts expert Danny Rand. Jessica Jones, besides a short stint as a superhero named Jewel, is a ball-busting noir detective. Excited yet?

The shows won’t premiere until 2015 (after Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), but writers have already been announced for both Jessica Jones and Daredevil.

The writers Marvel chooses will be important; each show could get its own distinct feel, or Marvel could hire people who will toe a corporate line and create a one-tone puzzle. The use of Joss Whedon on The Avengers hinted that Marvel was ready to risk it on a distinct voice that would still honor the themes and overall continuity.

The pick for Jessica Jones, for me, is bland, but has others pretty excited. Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote for the early seasons of Dexter and all of the Twilight films, has been chosen. As a fan of Twilight (yeah, I said it), I was very disappointed in her adaptations. However, critics and audiences alike received the first few seasons of Dexter very well. I can say, however, I’m happy to see a female writer on a female-led show. Let’s see if DC even has its Wonder Woman movie out of the gate by 2015.

Daredevil, the most well-known of this rag-tag team, will be written by Drew Goddard. He may not have name recognition for those unfamiliar with screenwriters, but his work includes co-writing Cabin in the Woods with Joss Whedon as well as work on Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Daredevil’s character can easily fall into this new grimdark trend of superheroes, but anyone who’s seen Goddard’s work knows that he can skillfully balance horror with humor. Early interviews with Goddard have also had him confessing to painting his door red and having Daredevil quotes on his walls when he was a teenager. A fan and a talent seem infallible.

An interesting question will be how explicit these shows will be. Netflix has provided an unrated playground for sexy and suggestive shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Given the blockbusters’ PG-13 ratings and Disney head house, it seems unlikely that the Netflix shows will go too deep. The characters they’ve introduced certainly carry more adult storylines in the comics, so Marvel could unexpectedly cater to an older fan base.

Marvel’s done it again. Here, it will be taking advantage of a burgeoning streaming service that will allow viewers to control their viewing, a female-led show (hopefully a lead-in for a female-led film), and more diversity among the characters. The Marvel movies have already been critiqued for their reliance on the relatively straight, old, white men heroes while their comics are on the frontier of representing minorities. These shows are one small step towards diversifying the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here’s hoping they’re better than Agents of SHIELD.

Junior Georgianna Pisano-Goetz is a staff writer. Her email is