Neflix To Stream Original Series Based On Marvel Characters

Netflix and Disney have announced a deal that calls for Marvel Television to develop four original live-action series. The new series will star relatively minor characters from Marvel's catalog.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It was a wham, boom, pow kind of an announcement from Netflix. They're making four original series based on Marvel Comics.

NPR's Neda Ulaby reports on why Netflix is leaping into the business of capes, masks and superpowers.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Netflix has gotten a reputation for decidedly grown-up original series, "Orange Is The New Black," "House of Cards" and the revival of "Arrested Development."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT")

RON HOWARD: (as Narrator) Now the story of a family who's future was abruptly canceled.

ULABY: But how smart for Netflix to get critics - and Emmy voters - excited right off the bat, says Andrew Wallenstein. He's editor-in-chief of Variety online.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN: And that's really just sort of a starter before going to for the broader market.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROAR)

ULABY: The new series will star relatively minor characters from Marvel's catalog, like Luke Cage, an African-American hero with skin like steel. He's married to another series star, superhero private eye Jessica Jones. Then there's Iron Fist, then Daredevil, probably best-known because of the movie starring Ben Affleck.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "DAREDEVIL")

MICHAEL CLARK DUNCAN: (as Kingpin) The blind lawyer from Hell's Kitchen?

BEN AFFLECK: (as Matt Murdock-Daredevil) You killed the only two people I ever loved.

WALLENSTEIN: Netflix doesn't make a bet this big without being pretty darn sure that its projections are going to bear out.

ULABY: And Marvel was probably attracted to getting four series, plus a miniseries that won't face pressure from box office numbers or ratings right out of the gate.

WALLENSTEIN: And that's going to allow for some breathing room and perhaps allow the creativity of the production to be tinkered with along the way.

ULABY: That kind of flexibility in Hollywood right now is practically a superpower of its own.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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