For the past few years, Marvel has been applying its approach to films to television shows, and it’s only now that they’ve realized that it’s not really working. The breaking point came, according to the Hollywood Reporter, when Kevin Feige, the Marvel Studio president and the constant producer of, well, everything that Marvel does, watched the first few episodes of the new Daredevil show.
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According to the new report, Feige took a step back, quietly fired the two writers, and took Daredevil: Born Again back to the drawing board with less than half of its planned 18 episodes already filmed prior to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Finally, someone with the power to change something realized that the way that Marvel does TV simply doesn’t work.
“[Marvel] didn’t commission pilots but instead shot entire $150 million-plus seasons of TV on the fly,” THR’s report reads in part. “It didn’t hire showrunners, but instead depended on film executives to run its series.” Brad Winderbaum, Marvel’s head of streaming, television, and animation, said to the trade, “we’re trying to marry the Marvel culture with the traditional television culture.”
The previous model for Marvel television shows largely echoed its film ethos: get it all filmed and fix it in post production. This might work with a single film, but with television? With arcs and B and C and even D plots? It’s no wonder that the past few series have been absolutely panned. With mixed reviews for Loki Season 2 and with consistent, overwhelmingly negative reviews for Secret Invasion, the Marvel machine has become a never-ending series of squeaky wheels.
Secret Invasion, in particular, suffered from infighting and a lack of vision, with writers being replaced and infighting that was, allegedly, on the verge of breaking the whole thing apart. The show, which was deeply boring and fairly uninspired aside from the occasional standout performances of Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, and Olivia Colman, “was weeks of people not getting along, and it erupted,” one insider told Hollywood Reporter.
As another insider stated, “TV is a writer-driven medium. Marvel is a Marvel-driven medium.” Now, Marvel is moving away from the Marvel Movie-fied version of television production, bringing on real showrunners, established television executives, and hopefully establishing procedures that mirror how real television works. Simply throwing money at a production is no guarantee it’ll be any good at all. But, maybe with this realization–that TV has a way of working, and it’s not how Marvel works–means that Disney’s Daredevil: Born Again might have a chance of being a worthy successor to the Netflix show.
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