News rolled out this weekend that Marvel and parent company Disney are exploring the possibility of a TV series set in the Marvel movie universe that “The Avengers,” “Iron Man” and all the rest live in.
This is something of a change considering that Disney and Marvel have mulled a couple of TV series since their big-screen ventures began in 2008.
Apparently a “Hulk” series is still being developed, but it seems like maybe the people in charge aren’t quite sure of what to do with it. They’ve said it would not take place in the Marvel movie universe, thus eliminating the possibility of a Tony Stark cameo.
Marvel was considering a series featuring second-tier heroes like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (Hero for Hire, Power Man, of course). But they back-burnered it, maybe so they could concentrate on this series.
So where should Marvel go on the TV screen?
Consider an animated series. Seriously. Everybody wants to see live-action, of course, and there’s already an “Avengers” animated series being developed for Disney XD. But you know what? “Jonny Quest” was a primetime series. Who wouldn’t watch a weekly primetime version of “The Incredibles?” If you decide to do the ultimate (no pun intended) “Avengers” TV series and it just happens to be animated, emulate “Justice League Unlimited” and the fans will watch.
Forget the stars. Really. Fans won’t tune in every week hoping to seem Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury. They’ll turn in to see concepts from their favorite comics explored on the small screen. Don’t worry about getting Jackson or Chris Evans or Mark Ruffalo. Work around the established characters or even re-cast them. Think about it: In the past 50 years, a lot of different artists have drawn Spider-Man, Captain America and the rest. They’ve looked pretty familiar but not exactly the same. Fans can accept variations.
Figure out how to budget it. The average episode of a TV series costs a couple million bucks. That’s about a tenth of what a big-screen movie can cost. If the producers try to be realistic in how they budget and make the show, fans will understand. Doing a cheap version that feels like a cheap version won’t satisfy anybody.
Some possible series:
“SHIELD” is a natural. It’s a spy organization. TV can do spies. Feature the Maria Hill character with a couple of cameos from Sam Jackson. Maybe Iron Man would fly over in the season finale.
“Damage Control” is little known among the public at large but often suggested by fans. Created in 1989, the Damage Control comic is about a New York-based company that comes in in the aftermath of a knock-down-drag-out between the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom, for example. Damage Control would clean up the mess, stabilize buildings and deal with any otherworldly toxic waste. The show would be a natural to have heroes show up occasionally, make a mess and leave. Humor would be an important element here.
With its DVD short films featuring SHIELD agents and the upcoming “Item 47” – a 12-minute movie on the Avengers DVDs this September featuring a story about two grifters, including Lizzy Caplan, who find one of the Chitauri blasters and decide to put it to bad use – Marvel is showing an inclination to try comic book stories on a smaller scale. It’s no surprise they would eventually focus that effort on a TV series.