Let's face it, Marvel's Netflix series are tremendous. We're now three seasons down, with another four confirmed seasons to go, and they're establishing themselves as dark and dangerous. Marvel's Netflix superheroes add hue and tone to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, giving us bloody street-battles, passionate sex scenes, and fantastic psychological drama. Today, at Silicon Valley Comic Con, Jeremy Renner was asked whether he'd be game to do a #Hawkeye Netflix series. Here was his response:
“I think that’s actually a really great model, if there’s ever a way to explore the character, maybe it’s in that world. These are things that are really not in my control, but I’d be open to it. I’ve really enjoyed getting to explore the character more recently. The Netflix model is where all the character drama goes to now; you’re doing a superhero movie or a Netflix or HBO kind of model. So I’d be open to it. Not up to me, though."
Why this would be a good idea
Unlike the rest of the Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow are more 'grounded' - they're simply normal human beings, highly trained and at the top of their game. Black Widow has a tantalisingly dark history that has been added to by Agent Carter - where we saw the Red Room - while Hawkeye is actually a family man. Both of them seem comfortable in spy settings, possibly more so than when they're working with Asgardian gods and super-soldiers.
What's more, both characters lend themselves to complex, sophisticated plots; the kind of psychological drama we saw in Jessica Jones would work just as well with Black Widow, and a clever spy series could easily work in an episodic format. Marvel's Netflix series give Marvel a chance to flesh out the darker side of the espionage world, leaving the lighter tone to Agents of S.H.I.EL.D.
What's more, there are countless arcs in the comics that could easily be adapted. Recent years have seen Matt Fraction pen award-winning series of Hawkeye, giving him a unique partnership with a teenager archer-come-superhero. The interaction flitted between mentor-and-mentee, best friends, and sometimes weirdly romantic. It could easily be adapted into a tremendous series. Over in Black Widow's corner, Nathan Edmondson's recent Black Widow run was a tour-de-force of spy comics, inspired by the "red in my ledger" dialogue in The Avengers film. Edmondson would certainly be up for it; he published a draft first scene of a Black Widow movie on his website!
Why this is unlikely to happen
Renner's willingness notwithstanding, the reality is that these series aren't going to happen. Scarlett Johansson is simply too big-budget an actor for a Netflix series - she was reportedly paid $20 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron, incredibly putting her ahead of even Chris Evans (a 'paltry' $6.9 million). Only Robert Downey Jr. got paid better than Scarlett Johansson, accruing a whopping $40 million. The reality is, Marvel Netflix can't afford this kind of pay. Even Jeremy Renner - clocking in at $6.1 million for Age of Ultron - is beyond Marvel Netflix's pay range.
Then there's another, more practical, problem. Last year, office politics led to Marvel being broken up in organisational terms. Marvel Studios - who run the films - were absorbed into the corporate structure of Disney, while Marvel Entertainment - who run the TV and Netflix series - remained in the Marvel reporting line. It was largely because the films were being confined by reclusive Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, and Disney felt they had to intervene before Kevin Feige left.
This corporate restructuring means there's no direct reporting line between the films and the series now, and we're likely to see ever-looser ties between the two. In any case, the film-writers always struggled to work out how to incorporate the TV series into the wider universe they were displaying; Joss Whedon famously refused to include Agent Coulson on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier in Age of Ultron. His argument was that the majority of fans have only seen the films, and wouldn't get the continuity. Anything happening to Hawkeye or Black Widow in the Netflix series would be known by even less fans, making matters even harder.
Jeremy Renner may be up for it, but sadly these particular Netflix series are unlikely to happen.