The State and Reality of Marvel at Netflix

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It feels strange that we are almost never waiting for the next comic book property. We just had Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming is just around the corner and the Defenders follows shortly after. I’m not complaining, as long as the quality is consistent, but it feels like a routine at this point. As a comic book fan, I look forward to it, but I can see, from an audience perspective, the whole comic book thing getting stale. It’s like Swedish pop from the 90’s, you just can’t escape it. I just want to help people get out of the funk of public opinion with my brief point overview of the pros and negatives of the, immensely, popular Marvel Netflix series.

This is the golden age of comic book entertainment. When I was a child, I had to get a tv guide to find out when reruns of The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Batman and that crappy Spider-Man show were on, but now, it’s all available through DVD collections or digital streaming. We’re getting to the point were these entertaining television shows are an obligation, as opposed to a fun way to spend the weekend with your significant other. “Ugh, another Marvel series. Time to struggle through this one.” I like the binge format, but you do have the option to take your time; nobody is forcing you. Another problem is people are taking these shows a bit too personal (which I will delve deeper into a bit later). The bottom line for all visual media created by major studios is yours and my entertainment, nothing else.

Unfortunately, many people fail to realize all journalism is biased. I am biased, and it would be completely intellectually dishonest if I were to say otherwise, but I try to remain as objective and fair to the reader as possible. I never want to to take my opinion as your own, but I’d prefer you treat my articles and reviews as a word of warning. Somewhere along the way, the audience has adopted the opinion of the “popular” critics as their own, and the opinion of the common man has since faded. I made a YouTube video some time back about the futility of entertainment criticism as a profession. While I note the irony, but I’d like to put the power back in the hands of the viewers. Be the change you want to see and don’t be afraid to like or dislike something. How do you think Twin Peaks came back?

To the heart of the matter, I found that 2 Marvel Series were unfairly treated by critics, and the audience just nodded their heads in agreement. First off, stay with me, Iron Fist. The only really flaws of Iron Fist were the action sequences and the amount of times you heard the words “Danny Rand” or “The Iron Fist” uttered. After reading negative review, after negative review, I was worried. After getting through 2 episodes and I wasn’t bored or frustrated I thought, “good thing my expectations were low”. Then after 5 episodes of rooting for Danny, invested in his well being, and enjoying the corporate drama I realized that the show is not only competent, but actually good. Quick walk back, there was one more major flaw: it isn’t Daredevil. Nothing needs to be said of Daredevil, but Iron Fist pales in comparison on just about every level. Danny is likable, has a clear goal, and a complete character arc. Plus, Harold is second best villain in the Netflix world of Marvel. Every scene with him is a delight. If you’re gearing up for the Defenders, give Iron Fist a chance and set your own standards, and think about what you like in media, not what people tell you that you should like. Remember though, people with agendas sometimes write articles, and they will smear something to help push it.

Now, onto the other show that was treated unfairly, but in the other direction: Jessica Jones. Again, my opinion, you like what you like, but this show sucked, and it sucked hard. Yes, yes, David Tennant was great (he is the best villain in the entire Marvel stable, as far as I’m concerned) but when you take him away you get a show about a cynical, selfish drunk woman, which also lacked in the action sequence department, which, quite frankly, had worse action sequences than Iron Fist. Now, credit where it’s due: Kristen Ritter is a fine actress, the supporting cast is good, it has a nice look to the series and, other than David Tennant, that’s it. Take K’un-Lun and mysticism out of Iron Fist and you have a far more grounded series than Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones fails to establish an emotional connection to the audience by having a character with basic decency for us to relate to. The biggest problem I had with the series was how it handled the more mature and traumatizing event in Jessica’s Life. Many critics praised the handling of the subject matter of rape, while I found their cheers for the this plot device insulting. Rape is the second worst thing that could happen to a person, behind being murdered, and Kilgrave used his powers to make her enraptured by him. Yes, this is rape because he used mind control to get her under his spell, but it undermines true victims of rape when you praise the maturity of a series that has a character who is raped by means of fantasy powers. I’m not here to say rape can’t be implemented into a series because it is in poor taste, but this particular case should neither be panned, nor heralded. I had been critical of the series “Dexter” because the supporting cast were too weak for, the fantastic, Michael C. Hall to carry. Jessica Jones is in a similar vein: the supporting cast is great, but Jessica is one dimensional, unremarkable, unlikable and her action sequences are boring, so she drags the whole show down. Again, if you plan on revisting this series, I truly wonder how many people that claimed this was a great show will find they want to get through a second viewing?

Just to keep it a bit brief, Luke Cage is just okay. Everyone in it is good, the story is easy to follow, and Luke is a cool, likable dude. It lacks wow moments, but Luke has some neat action sequences, fun lines and a complete arc. The final villain fight was schlock, but we watch for the characters, and it’s a smooth ride from a Ford F-150: it’s not the best truck you can buy, and it goes south on you quicker than most other trucks, but the ride is comfortable, but at least it works. Daredevil is a BMW: it looks good, runs nice, and lasts for a long time. Daredevil sticks with you, and unlike Jessica Jones, you watch it for Matt. The sad truth is the best part of Jessica Jones was Kilgrave, and he’s gone, leaving her arc incomplete and reinforcing her selfish character (not that he didn’t deserve it) but with Daredevil, we want to see what develops next with Matt because we like him and his interactions with the characters.

All that being said, Marvel Entertainment has fallen on it’s face far less than most major studios, and it’s rare for a studio to have a perfect track record. We have so much entertainment from all mediums, television, movie theaters, digital streaming, video games, that we don’t need to sweat the small stuff. Jessica Jones sucks, but I don’t hate that it exists. Iron Fist is good, but I don’t need everyone to line up with me on that. We are fortunate that we have the other shows that work as the glue to hold this giant monster together. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is what you think. If somebody calls you a name because you have a preference for a particular piece of popcorn entertainment, they have some serious insecurities and need validation, so they have to bring you down. You like what you like, and don’t use the critics’ opinion as the basis for yours. If you want to read something from a critic, see what they like about something, and maybe if they like all the things that you can’t stand, maybe their opinion won’t be the same as yours.

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