Back in April of 2015, Netflix launched season one of the Marvel series “Daredevil,” and the internet collectively sighed, bracing ourselves for another ugly outing of the character we watched Ben Affleck butcher twelve years prior… but many of my nerd brethren nonetheless buckled in to see what this new extension of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to offer, as the fact that this new show was set to take place within the same reality as movies like “The Avengers,” made it interesting enough to suffer.
Soon, however, it became clear that this new Daredevil was nothing like the failed movie by the same name. The combination of Matt Murdock’s mental and emotional struggle, depicted with more breadth and development than a movie usually allots, with brutal fight scenes that emphasized incredible choreography rather than special effects, made for something unique even within the immensely successful Marvel live-action brand. Daredevil not only set the tone, but the pace, for a newly expanding television world that served as a gritty, and worthy, extension of the world we’d been introduced to by Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
Unfortunately, not all of Netflix’s Marvel outtings have been as successful. “Jessica Jones” provided us with a powerful (in more ways than one) female protagonist that was done a disservice by sometimes lackadaisical story telling, with season one of Netflix’s second hero series falling a bit flat. Soon thereafter, excitement returned to the streaming service in the form of “Luke Cage,” a Marine, turned cop, turned fugitive, turned bulletproof vigilante that, once again, encompassed a new demographic. Like “Jones” offered a woman’s perspective on heroism, “Cage” placed the race of its protagonist, and the challenges faced by American minorities, at the forefront of its story line with great success… at least until the last few episodes did away with the show’s incredible style and (spoiler alert) one of the best villains in any hero franchise, “Cottonmouth,” in favor of a cheesier tone and villain to match, in “Diamondback.”
Then came “Iron Fist.” Despite “Luke Cage’s” fizzled finale, it’s safe to say it had still elicited a great deal of excitement about what Netflix and Marvel might dish out next: and it came in the form of awkward acting, poorly choreographed fights, and the well-tread story of a rich kid turning to crime fighting after the death of his parents. If we were tired of that origin story littering every Batman franchise we’ve seen in recent years, just imagine how much worse it is when the character isn’t particularly likeable, and often forgoes a good fight scene in favor of lamenting about the challenges of being super rich and knowing kung fu. Iron Fist can be considered to be Netflix’s only “failure” in the super hero genre, though the show itself did fairly well in ratings, according to rumor (Netflix is notorious for not releasing its ratings).