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Friday, October 2, 2020

Superhero Thoughts: Addendum

One of the main goals of writing My Thoughts on Superhero Cinema was to make some broad statements about superhero TV series. Then, I thought, “Nah, I’ll include that in the review(s) for the Marvel TV shows.” And now that I’ve published yesterday’s essay, I thought, “That’s going to make the reviews longer than I’d like.”

So, I’m writing this addendum.

The MCU TV shows break down into these categories:

  1. The network broadcast shows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Inhumans)
  2. The Netflix shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher)
  3. The teen shows (Cloak and Dagger, Runaways)

The new shows being made for Disney+ might form a fourth category, but none have been released yet. Of those that have been released, I’ve seen everything except the last few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (haven’t checked if they are available yet) and the second season of The Punisher.

The reason why I break them down into those categories is not really related to where they are shown, but shared characteristics centered on punchiness and connectivity.

Superhero stuff, as I explained yesterday, is usually “punchy” in a broad sense, focusing on fighting bad guys, but some MCU material focuses much more on physical fights – actual punching, plus some kicking and headbutting to keep the fights “creative”, and some gunfights as well. This is in contrast to superheroes who fight using super powers or supertech.

The other characteristic is how connected a show is to the rest of the MCU: crossover characters, references to events or characters in other stories, foreshadowing of events in another show/movie that hasn’t been released yet.

The “Network” category has martial arts and guns, of course, but includes super powers and supertech. They aren’t afraid of special effects. They also tend to have better connectivity to the movies.

The “Netflix” category is much more punchy and has a minimum of powers/tech that require fancy effects. There’s some indirect connectivity with the movies, mostly a few references to general events. They do interconnect with each other. They wind up feeling like a shared world of gritty mystery/crime drama characters who have a passing knowledge of Marvel comic books.

The “Teen” category is less punchy than the “Netflix” category and allows more super powers and special effects. Connectivity is at a minimum: they have one crossover episode between the the two of them and a handful of obscure references, mostly to a couple company names.

As a result, both the “Netflix” and “Teen” shows act like their own private universes cut off from the rest of the MCU.

You are probably going to notice a pattern in how I feel about the three categories as a whole when I do my reviews.

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  1. I was really hoping they'd throw the Netflix shows a bone and have Charlie Cox, Mike Coulter, Kristin Ritter, and cant' remember his name who plays Iron Fist show up in the big Thanos battle at the end of Endgame, even if they were just in one of those "freeze frame or you'll miss it" moments. But then they had so many characters running around, and there may be licensing issues and whatnot to deal with...

    Anyway, looking forward to your reviews of these. I enjoyed the Star Trek ones a lot.

    1. They probably would have had to cut to battles elsewhere in the world, which might not have made sense. Sadly, your character has to know one of the Avengers personally to get invited to an Avengers battle party.