"It's all connected." In theory, those three words define the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In reality, the movies seem to do their own thing, with the TV shows simply following their lead. Tension is building, though, with fans demanding that Marvel Studios acknowledge the TV shows in some way (most are hoping for cameos in Avengers: Infinity War).
“What we do is really unique. We’re adult kind of oriented. We’re not PG-13. We’re not really for the mass audiences, crowd pleasing, family oriented. We have sex scenes. We have, you know, adult situations, and while I think it’d be nice to be in the films, I don’t know if we want to dilute what we’re doing that makes us very unique.”
Does He Have a Point?
According to Mike Colter, Marvel's Netflix shows simply wouldn't translate well into the PG-13 movie market. In fact, he's concerned that trying to introduce them into the films would "dilute" them.
Anyone who watches #MarvelNetflix will understand his point. The Netflix shows have a very different tone and style to the movies. That was kicked off in Daredevil Season 1, and since then we've seen an overdose of violence in John Bernthal's Punisher, passionate and lengthy sex scenes in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and the kind of language that would make Captain America blush. This was lampshaded pretty effectively by the 'swear jar' in Luke Cage.
Mike Colter is also right that the Netflix shows explore adult situations that the films never could. Take Simone Cook's Misty Knight in Luke Cage; her first interaction with Luke was a one-night-stand, bringing her judgment under question throughout the series. Or look at Jessica Jones, which essentially dealt with a mind-controlling rapist. These situations are definitely darker, not to mention more ethically troubling, than anything you'd see in Marvel films.
But why would a cameo "dilute" this? The reason is simple: Because once the cameo has happened, fans will want more. Let me give you two examples: The Punisher was first introduced as an adversary for Spider-Man, as he believed the Wall-Crawler was a criminal. I can picture some fans starting to ask for Jon Bernthal's Punisher to go head-to-head with Tom Holland's Spider-Man. Or here's another example: Why can't Luke Cage become an Avenger? In the comics, he's even led them on occasion. The cameo would be the beginning of a process, one which would see fans pleading for Marvel Netflix characters to transition to the big screen. And that would certainly dilute their brand.
Is There No Chance?
The good news is, of course, this isn't up to Mike Colter. As he went on to observe:
“That being said, you know Marvel, if they can make it work I’m sure it’d be nice, but it’s really scheduling. They schedule movies years in advance, we’re shooting TV series year round. It’s very tough to just kind of make things just work the way you want to because it’s just so much going on.”
As he says, from a practical viewpoint the issue is scheduling (Jeph Loeb made the same point). But if Marvel can make it work — and aren't concerned about the long-term risks of brand dilution — then it will happen. Still, to date, we've had no real evidence that Marvel Netflix cameos are on the cards, and I do think Mike Colter has made another good point against them.
- All The Evidence That Captain Marvel & The Defenders Will Appear in Avengers: Infinity War
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Marvel Netflix is, as Mike Colter says, something unique; although strongly tied to the MCU, these shows — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the up-and-coming Iron Fist, Punisher, and Defenders series — have a tone and style like nothing else. They're dark and brooding, powerful and violent, and so deeply human that they stand out above any other superhero TV show. I don't want to see that brand diluted.
Do you think the Defenders should appear in Infinity War? Let me know in the comments!