In the last eight years the perception of superhero media has changed drastically. Before Marvel introduced us to the idea of a shared cinematic universe with Iron Man, superhero films and television series were not taken particularly seriously by the general public. Now, howeover, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the highest-grossing film franchise of all time and every film studio is trying to follow its lead. Marvel's biggest rival in comics, DC, is playing catch-up with its own cinematic universe (to polarizing reviews) and is trying to follow the Marvel model.
But the MCU doesn't just include films. Marvel's connected universe has also branched out into television. Unlike DC, which has separated its successful television universe from its movies (Was this a good idea? Read my other post!), Marvel has kept everything interconnected. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. initially struggled to find its own identity, but due to the ongoing storyline in the universe — particularly the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier — the show was finally able to find its place. Since then it has continued to improve. Daredevil and Jessica Jones were both created for Netflix and have both been universally praised (Daredevil might actually be my favorite thing on television!).
There have been recently quashed rumors of a Captain Britain series, while Marvel has confirmed a pilot for Marvel's Most Wanted, starring Mockingbird and Lance Hunter, and also Cloak and Dagger. This spate of creativity courtesy of Marvel has got me thinking: Which other TV shows could we see? Well, read on as I offer three suggestions.
You might remember an earlier post of mine about Marvel 2099 and how it could be a possible future of the MCU. In that post I discussed how the Marvel Cinematic Universe could evolve over the next 83 years and mentioned a number of characters that could inhabit those films. As I was writing I realized that this could totally work as a TV series. Agent Carter is another excellent Marvel TV series that is based in the 1940s, so it is perfectly logical that we could have a series based in the year 2099. This would give viewers an insight into a possible future of the MCU that would have a totally different aesthetic to the modern-day Marvel Universe.
Marvel 2099 is set mainly in Nueva York and the world is now run by a group of mega-corporations. Miguel O'Hara is the Spider-Man of 2099 and he works at one of these mega-corporations, Alchemax. He is infected with the highly addictive Rapture drug and the only way he can rid himself of it is to become a guinea pig in his own experiment; an experiment that leaves him with spiderlike abilities. After becoming Spider-Man, Miguel often finds himself coming to blows with Alchemax, which could make a great premise for the TV series. Each episode could see Miguel dealing with other villains created by Alchemax, with the main antagonist being CEO Tyler Stone. This is just one example, as there is a wealth of 2099 counterparts: Punisher, Hulk and Captain America all have successors in 2099 that could potentially star in their own series.
Marvel's What If...? line of comic books has been in existence since the 1970s in some form or another. The aim behind this line is to show alternate stories of the Marvel Universe. The first What If...? comic was "What If Spider-Man had Joined the Fantastic Four" which offered a new look at the events in Amazing Spider-Man Issue 1 from back in 1963. Since then, the House of Ideas has looked at many different alternate stories throughout Marvel's history. Some of them were successful enough to launch their own series. Spider-Girl is an example of this as it was so popular it went on to run for more than 100 issues.
Marvel's What If...? could be a shorter series, something akin to Charlie Brooker's excellent Black Mirror. Three hour-long episodes could offer different perspectives on events in the MCU. An original What If...? comic that could be an example of this is: "What if Iron Man had Been a Traitor?" The series would have a higher budget than the usual Marvel TV series and as a result there could be appearances from the stars of the films. Obviously these would all be noncanonical — they would just be for fun — but they would show viewers how different the MCU could be.
Another alternate episode could be "What If Rick Jones had Become the Hulk?" At the moment, Rick Jones has not yet appeared in the MCU (though we do know he exists as he is mentioned in The Incredible Hulk) so this episode could properly introduce the character. The Hulk is a sparingly used commodity in the MCU so a one-off episode could be a way to show some more of him. We would also get to see a different side to Bruce Banner, as he is responsible for Rick becoming the Hulk in this story. These are just two examples of alternate stories we could see — there are a wealth of possibilities in this one!
In 1994 one of Marvel's most beloved series was born. Kurt Busiek teamed up with a little-known artist named Alex Ross to tell the tale of Phil Sheldon, a news photographer living in the Marvel Universe who witnessed many significant events firsthand. The series starts at the very birth of the Marvel Universe in 1939 and concludes with the death of Gwen Stacy in 1974. Phil Sheldon is an everyman character; he has no superpowers or special abilities, he just happens to be an ordinary man living in an extraordinary world. This was something that greatly appealed to the fans.
Phil Sheldon evolves throughout the series from an enthusiastic, ambitious young man into a jaded old man questioning his purpose in life. He is initially inspired by the superheroes and he christens them the "Marvels" as he prepares to write a book collecting all of his photographs over the years. But after witnessing Spider-Man failing to save Gwen Stacy, he questions the heroes he had worshipped. Phil had befriended Gwen and her death hit him extremely hard. He did not understand how an innocent young girl could be killed by a villain she had no prior connection to. Of course, he was unaware of Gwen's connection to Spider-Man.
So why would this be a good TV series? Simply put, we would experience a normal man's life in the MCU. I know, there are plenty of normal characters in the MCU with the likes of Foggy Nelson, Peggy Carter, Phil Coulson and even Natasha Romanov. But Phil Sheldon would be a unique character whose whole supporting cast would be normal characters as well. He would live on the periphery of the superpowered characters' lives with little to no interaction with any of them. We would get to see a different side to the MCU.
Of course, the time frame would have to change as the MCU did not start until 2008 and it continues to evolve in real time. But this new angle on the world would allow us to see events in the MCU unfold from Phil Sheldon's perspective. We have already had a small glimpse of the Battle of New York in The Avengers thanks to Ben Urich in Daredevil, but as a news photographer it would be safe to say that Phil Sheldon would have had a perspective on these events. There could even be scope to see the public's opinions on the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. How many are Team Cap and how many are Team Iron Man?
These are just three ideas of shows that Marvel could develop. Personally, I think Marvels would be the most realistic of the suggestions I've made. But I'd really like to see all three of them!