Those Marvel superheroes perhaps deemed not "big" enough for their own stand-alone feature-length films are getting the next best thing: their own television series, as Marvel and Netflix have joined forces to develop four individual, character-based series that will eventually lead to an "Avengers"-style small-screen team-up.
The first series will focus on the Man Without Fear himself, "Daredevil," followed by "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist" and "Luke Cage." Taking place primarily in the gritty world of Hell's Kitchen, the epic interweaving story will unfold over multiple years of original programming before culminating into a "The Defenders" mini-series that brings together the dream team of New York's finest superheroes.
The series deal marks Marvel's most ambitious foray into live-action TV storytelling to date, following a so far successful warm-up into the medium with ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." It also further strengthens Netflix's claim in the world of original television programming as the success of such exclusive series as "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" is turning the streaming media provider into a TV network to be reckoned with.
It's nice to see Daredevil finally being given another chance to connect with Marvel fans following the mediocre 2003 feature film starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, and future Marvel mogul Jon Favreau. Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who fights for justice in the courtroom during the day and as a masked vigilante on the street at night, was created by Marvel writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett and first appeared in "Daredevil" #1 (April 1964).
Luke Cage is a Marvel favorite that's long overdue for a live-action incarnation. Carl Lucas was wrongfully sent to the big house, where he agreed to undergo an experimental procedure in exchange for parole. The experiment was supposed to give him immunity to all illnesses but instead gave him steel-hard skin and superhuman strength, where upon he reinvented himself as "Luke Cage," a sort of super-enhanced private detective ... or, rather, a 'hero for hire,' as he calls himself.
Director John Singleton had been attached to a "Luke Cage" feature film for several years before the rights to the character reverted back to Marvel Studios in May 2013. Cage was created by writer Archie Goodwin and artists George Tuska and John Romita, Sr. and first appeared in "Luke Cage, Hero for Hire" #1 (June 1972).
In the comics, Luke Cage eventually forms a partnership with Danny Rand-K'ai, a martial artist also known as Iron Fist, a character created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane and who first appeared in "Marvel Premiere" #15 (May 1974). Ray Park became attached to star in an "Iron Fist" feature film way back in May 2000 though the project wallowed in false starts for the better part of a decade.
Finally, Jessica Jones is a relatively new addition to the Marvel universe, created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos and making her debut in "Alias" #1 (Nov. 2001). A former superheroine previously known under such monikers as Jewel and Knightress, Jones retired from costumed crimefighting and became the owner and sole employee of Alias Private Investigations.
Jessica was given a fun retro origin story -- in high school she had a crush on Peter Parker, though her plan to finally ask him out was foiled by him being distracted by a certain radioactive spider bite. Jones was also the on-again, off-again love interest of Luke Cage.
Netflix has committed to a minimum of 13 episodes for each of the four series, with the multi-tiered story set to commence sometime in 2015. Meanwhile, you can catch the latest chapter of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe on the big screen this weekend with the release of "Thor: The Dark World."