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Netflix’s ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ Poised for Binge-Viewing

There are no standard “ratings” for Netflix. But “Marvel’s The Defenders,” the streamer’s newest original series in the street-hero franchise, could be one of its biggest hits ever, independent research indicates.

The four preceding Marvel series leading up to “Defenders” — “Daredevil” season 2, “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” — were among the top five most-viewed recently released Netflix originals in the first 30 days after their premieres, according to data from marketing-analytics firm Jumpshot, provided exclusively to Variety. Teen-suicide drama “13 Reasons Why” took the No. spot.

It seems safe to predict that “The Defenders,” as the culminating mashup with each of the four characters uniting against a common enemy, will turn in similar binge-heavy viewership as well. Netflix released all eight episodes of the limited series at 12:01 a.m. PT Friday. The show stars Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Finn Jones (Iron Fist).

The analysis from Jumpshot shows the relative number of U.S. Netflix viewers who watched at least one episode of each series. The data is presented as a index, benchmarked against the most-viewed Netflix original in the comparison, “Daredevil” season 2. For example, “13 Reasons Why,” the second most-viewed premier in the first 30 days, garnering 48% of the viewers that “Daredevil 2” received.

Of the series studied, “13 Reasons Why” was the only Netflix original that showed any growth in week-over-week viewership in the first month of release, with an 18% increase from week one to week two. That reflects strong word-of-mouth buzz for the controversial show.

“Stranger Things” was the seventh most-viewed Netflix original premiere in its first 30 days, but it had the lowest week-over-week decline in viewership, per the Jumpshot data. It’s not a surprise that shows see a viewing drop-off after the first week, given Netflix’s binge-friendly release strategy.


Netflix’s ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ Poised for Binge-Viewing Pop, Data Indicates


Netflix in Talks With Disney on Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ Movies for 2019 and Beyond

Netflix isn’t going to get Disney’s “Frozen 2,” but it’s not yet frozen out of potentially getting streaming rights to Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” franchise and Marvel Entertainment movies.

Netflix remains in “active discussions” with Disney about a deal for Lucasfilm and Marvel titles after the companies’ current movie-output deal expires in 2019, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in an interview with Reuters.

On Tuesday, Disney said it plans to introduce its own direct-to-consumer Disney-branded subscription VOD service in 2019; it’s also looking to roll out an ESPN over-the-top streaming service in early 2018.

The Disney OTT service will exclusively offer movies from Pixar and Disney studios starting with 2019 releases — so Netflix won’t have those. But Disney has yet to decide whether it will re-up with Netflix for the Marvel and Lucasfilm lines. Those could be bundled into in the Disney-branded service, broken into their own subscription VOD services, or licensed to a third party — whether that’s Netflix, HBO, or another partner.

Sarandos told Reuters that Disney’s streaming service was a “natural evolution” for media companies and opined that the Mouse House’s OTT offerings will be “complementary” to Netflix. The exec added, “That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago, anticipating [negotiations to license content] may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks.”

Netflix and Disney inked the licensing pact for the U.S. pay-TV window in 2012, under which Netflix secured streaming rights to the Mouse House’s films starting with 2016 releases. Netflix has had a similar “pay one” agreement for Disney titles in Canada starting with 2015 releases.

Disney’s 2019 theatrical slate includes the second “Frozen” movie, “Toy Story 4” and a live-action version of “The Lion King” from the Disney and Pixar lines.

Shares of Netflix dropped after Disney announced the plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming services and ending the deal with Netflix for Disney and Pixar films. After hitting record highs last month, Netflix’s stock has dropped 7% since Monday.

Separately from the Disney movie pact, Netflix has an extensive, multiyear deal with Marvel for original series based on Marvel’s street-hero characters, including “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist.”


Netflix in Talks With Disney on Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ Movies for 2019 and Beyond

Teenage Groot Will Return In Avengers: Infinity War

We’ve known for quite some time that the Guardians of the Galaxy will all appear in Avengers: Infinity War, but after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hit theaters this summer, a new question about the Guardians’ involvement surfaced. During one of the five post-credit scenes in Guardians 2, fans got their first look at Teen Groot, when Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) came into his room and started complaining that he hadn’t cleaned it yet, as Teen Groot continued to play video games, as teens are known to do. Director James Gunn has confirmed that fans will be seeing Teen Groot in Avengers: Infinity War.


While it still hasn’t been released to the public quite yet, the Infinity War Comic-Con footage, which was also shown at the D23 Expo, featured the Guardians and what looked like the same Teen Groot from the Guardians 2post-credit scene. Cinema Blend spoke with James Gunn, who was promoting the home video release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when he confirmed that fans will be seeing Teen Groot in Infinity War. Here’s what he had to say below.

“He’s exactly the same. That’s exactly the Groot we designed for Infinity War.”

It had previously been confirmed that the post-credit scene in question took place four years after Guardians Vol. 2, which means that Infinity War is also set four years after the sequel. James Gunn hesitantly confirms this, stating, “Well, those are at the same time.” After Groot sacrificed himself at the end of the first Guardians movie, fans saw him come back to life as the adorable Baby Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credit scene where he was dancing to “ABC” by the Jackson 5. When asked if that “restarted his life cycle,” James Gunn didn’t want to state anything on record, admitting it’s an aspect of Groot that he wants to use in future stories, most likely Guardians of the Galaxy 3, which he’s currently working on. He did hint, though, that the life of a creature like Groot is nothing like our own.


“Well, you know, it’s complicated. I think you have to stick through future movies to find out exactly what the story of Groot is. I get a lot of questions, and the thing I say that bums people out more than anything else is that Baby Groot doesn’t have the memories of Adult Groot. But it’s complicated! His life is not like our lives… It’s his aging, and Groots, where they come from and how they do their thing. It’s pretty much worked out in my head, but we’ve only let out pieces of that.”

It is believed that we’ll get to see Groot back to his full-grown self by the time Guardians of the Galaxy 3 rolls around, which will be part of Marvel’s Phase 4 lineup, although an exact release date for that movie has yet to be given. Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 has been confirmed as the first Phase 4 movie, hitting theaters July 5, 2019, just two months after Avengers 4 arrives on May 3, 2019, with the studio setting three 2020 dates, May 1, 2020, August 7, 2020 and November 6, 2020. With production now wrapped on Avengers: Infinity War, and filming starting soon on Avengers 4, hopefully we’ll find out more about these highly-anticipated projects soon.



How Netflix can spawn a Marvel-style Millarworld superhero universe

Netflix has grand ambitions for Millarworld, the Scottish comic book company it acquired this week. The aim is to repeat Disney’s success with Marvel, where the creator of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy has become a launchpad for multibillion-dollar film franchises.

Here are four ways in which Netflix can make a global success of Millarworld properties, a job made tougher as the deal does not include founder Mark Millar’s best-known properties: Kick-Ass and Kingsman.

1. Create a superhero universe

The latest trend in Hollywood is to create a “universe” from a group of characters. Disney has the Avengers ensemble, which includes characters such as Captain America, Thor and Iron Man – who also have their own standalone films. This is not about flogging a concept through a series of sequels but building up a series of characters that can flit across multiple films (and probably TV series in the case of Netflix). Warner Brothers is tapping into this approach by expanding its DC Comics heroes – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – into a universe under the Justice League banner. Universal is developing its so-called “dark universe” of monster films ranging from The Mummy, the Invisible Man, and Dracula to vampire hunter Van Helsing.

Millarworld has so far developed 18 character franchises. Three of these – Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman – have so far made the successful jump to the big screen grossing about $1bn (£770m) at the box office. However, Kingsman and Kick-Ass are licensed to other producers. Netflix releases films in cinemas but its main business is streaming content to subscribers so it referred to TV series and kids’ shows as well as films.

Netflix is banking on Millarworld introducing viewers to a new universe of hitherto unknown worlds – with franchises including Jupiter’s Legacy about a dysfunctional superhero family, a gifted petrol station worker called Huck and Duke McQueen, “a space age hero who may be a little past his prime” – that will become household names.

Like Disney’s Avengers, Millar says the “vast tapestry of characters and superteams” all tie together, which Netflix will convert into a range of TV and film projects for its more than 100m global subscribers. 


2. Ensure Millarworld’s output has international appeal

Disney had the luxury of building the Marvel hit factory selectively from a world of 5,000 characters, many of whom were not seen worthy of development when the company was acquired for $4bn in 2009. Millarworld is a smaller canvas. 

Millarworld’s creations are not well known cinematically on the global stage and it is superbrands such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Avengers that have driven more than $12bn in box office takings alone for Disney.

Well-established brand characters are still no guarantee of success. Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern, made by Warner Bros, and The Fantastic Four, made by 20th Century Fox, both flopped. 

Even Millar’s biggest hit has struggled to make it to maintain its momentum.Matthew Vaughan, director of the hit adaptation of Kick-Ass, said that the sequel “lost a few fans”.

3. Talent retention and character development

Mark Millar operates Millarworld as something of a collective of creators but the name above the door is his – he and his wife, Lucy, jointly own the Glasgow-based company. Netflix chiefs have heaped praise on Millar calling him “as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee”, the Marvel executive and legendary creator of some of the biggest superheroes in print and film including Spiderman, Iron Man, X-Men, Hulk and Thor.


Millar has proven he has the Marvel midas touch, after an eight-year stint at the business. While there, he developed the comic books and story arcs that inspired the Avengers film, Captain America: Civil War and the recent Wolverine movie, Logan.



What the ‘Deadpool 2’ Domino Reveal Says About the Sequel

The sight of Zazie Beetz as Domino on Monday morning was a sign that the antihero could play a larger role in the follow-up to Ryan Reynolds’ superhero comedy Deadpool than originally believed.

To be fair, Beetz looks great as the mutant mercenary, in a costume that might not be entirely true to the character’s comic book visual. She has, traditionally, worn an outfit that covers everything but her head, but the facial markings here mirror, and invert, the comic book visual of the character co-created by Deadpool‘s Rob Liefeld. 

Beetz’s Domino looks easily as fierce as the source material as she lies on a rug made out of Deadpool, and the fact that she’s taking it easy on top of him might be significant: Does it potentially suggest some kind of conflict between the two? (The cartoonishness of Deadpool’s pose under Domino brings to mind a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner dynamic, although that might just be me.) If that is the case, that wouldn’t be outside of the comic book canon version of their relationship, with both characters’ loyalties depending as much on their client base as any personal beliefs.

That’s more true for Deadpool than Domino, admittedly; whereas the mercenary nature of the former character’s comic book incarnation extends so far as his tagline — “the Merc with the Mouth” — the latter has, more often than not, been on the side of the good guys, and, even moreso, been by the side of Cable. A longtime member of the time-traveling antihero’s supporting cast, she has fought alongside him as part of his own mercenary group the Six Pack, as well as multiple incarnations of X-Force. Beyond her association with Cable, she’s worked with the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D. and other comic book organizations throughout the year, underscoring her comic book status as team player, rather than leading lady.
Brian Stelfreeze/Marvel Entertainment

If that seems harsh, it’s worth pointing out that Domino duplicates elements of other, more beloved, comic book characters. She’s essentially a remodel of Black Widow with some Wolverine narrative DNA (she, too, is the result of a secret government program to create the ultimate weapon) and the “good luck” powers of an earlier Marvel character, Longshot. Domino has yet to be given a distinctive story of her own with which to break out and prove her own worth.


That’s not to say that she’s never had her own comic book; in fact, she’s had two since her 1991 debut in The New Mutants No. 98, with a three-issue series in 1997 and a four-issue series in 2003. (The artist on the second series was Brian Stelfreeze, currently working on Black Panther with Ta-Nehisi Coates.)

For the most part, however, Domino’s comic book adventures have been restrained to the X-Force titles, with occasional guest appearances in other comics across the decades — although, with a movie appearance in the offing, that might be about to change. And, perhaps, given the increased profile (and, just maybe, a new attitude courtesy of Deadpool 2‘s screenwriters), Domino might be about to have her time in the spotlight.



Marvel legend Stan Lee is creating an original story for Audible

Comic book fans (and comic book movie fans) are very familiar with Stan Lee, who has a cameo in pretty much every Marvel movie. Now, the legendary Marvel writer is creating yet another shared universe. Varietyexclusively reports that Stan Lee will produce a brand new book for Audible described as “Mr. Robot set in John Hughes world.”



Given that the agreement is with an audiobook company, the project will be (you guessed it) an audiobook. Stan Lee is signed on to narrate the introduction to the project. Lee, along with Ryan Silbert and Luke Liebermen, promise that this will be the beginning of an entirely new shared universe. Presumably, if this project does well, we’ll see more of it in the future.



It’s unclear whether the long-form work will later release in print form. However, seeing as Audible is owned by Amazon, which has its own publishing arm, it’s certainly a possibility.




See What A Bearded Chris Evans Would Look Like As Solid Snake

While Chris Evans may be best known for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain America, a recent photo circulating around suggests the actor could easily fill another popular character’s shoes: Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake. During San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios released all kinds of juicy information about the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, including several character posters that were handed out during the event. One poster was of Chris Evans’ Captain America standing at the head of other Avengers like Falcon and sporting a great bushy beard.

Naturally, comic fans will be aware that this look is inspired by Steve Rogers’ Nomad identity. Rogers adopts this identity in the comics after discovering that a government official is the head of a terrorist organization. Rogers comes to question the trustworthiness of the American government. This certainly sounds similar to the mindset of Captain America at the end of Captain America: Civil War, so Marvel Studios bringing in the Nomad personality should fit in nicely with Infinity War. Regardless, the image of a despondent Cap has inspired several altered photos, including the Solid Snake recreation.

Twitter user BossLogic revealed (via CB) a particularly professional image of Evans’ as Solid Snake in full uniform and sporting the same beard and the character’s trademark cigarette and bandana. For a more detailed look at Evans as the popular video game character and frequent protagonist, take a look below.


The work put in by BossLogic is definitely convincing and it’s easy enough to picture Evans taking up the role. While Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is currently slated to helm the long-gestating video game adaptation, there’s been no solid information as to who could take up the role of Solid Snake. Naturally, a fan-made photo is certainly not indicative that Evans will get the role, but it certainly would not be the worst choice imaginable given Evans’ popularity thanks to his role as Captain America.

Of course, juggling such a commitment with his role in the MCU would more than likely prove to be incredibly difficult to do. There’s also a matter of the critical and financial failure that’s been attached to most live action attempts at adapting video games into movies. Evans may very well wish to keep himself as far away from a project like Metal Gear Solidas possible given the stigma attached to such projects. Either way, BossLogic’s fan-made photo is an incredibly convincing case to at least imagine what could be if Evans were to ever step into the Solid Snake role.



‘The Defenders’ is the Marvel team-up you hoped for — Iron Fist and all

“The Defenders” is the type of superhero streaming that we’ve come to expect from Netflix’s live-action Marvel productions. Well worth the wait, the new show is every bit the event that Marvel fans hoped it could be.  

The coming together of the streaming service’s four superhero shows — each with varying styles on how to be a hero — works in part because of how they focus on why such a get-together shouldn’t work at all.

But before Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) team up to defend New York City, the producers of the show divide the four into pairs.

Matt Murdock is still reeling from the pain of losing the woman he loved, Elektra (more on that later), and has left his Daredevil/vigilante days behind to focus on being the best lawyer possible. And who should end up needing a good, affordable attorney? Jessica Jones. (Jones is on the bad side of Misty Knight, played by Simone Missick. Could Misty have a future as a Defender, too?)


Murdock and Jones butt heads from the start as they realize they’re both investigating something that connects to an evil scheme too big for the both of them.

That something is Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, who may be the biggest surprise of “The Defenders.” She’s a compelling villain with a mysterious past that borders on the unbelievable — we can’t say more than that without giving too much away.



Marvel is bringing its superheroes to VR with a new Oculus-exclusive game

The Incredible Hulk and some of his other box office money-grabbing super pals will be coming to the world of virtual reality.

Marvel Powers United VR, announced at Disney’s D23 event on Saturday, will allow players a chance to step into the shoes of some familiar heroes as they destroy lots of stuff in VR.

Powers United VR, an Oculus-exclusive, looks pretty similar to existing VR wave shooters like Robo Recall, though its multiplayer could spice things up a bit. The main highlight will obviously be having IP from Marvel; players will be able to choose from 12 different Marvel characters as they exact righteous mayhem.

The title is being developed by Sanzaru Games, which has already done a couple VR titles for the Rift, including VR Sports Challenge and Ripcoil.

Facebook and Oculus have devoted $500 million to funding made-for-VR content. Oculus has been doing so largely with the hopes of attracting exclusives and interest from top AAA game publishers who have been reticent to invest significant cash into a space with so few users relative to console and PC audiences.


With Marvel, Oculus has found a partnership that allows it another big name exclusive to show off its highest-end Rift and Touch controller hardware, which it has heavily discounted in recent months as Facebook looks to sell units and keep up with competition in the niche VR space.

Building a hefty library of exclusives is even more important to the company following E3, where Oculus was largely overlooked as the highly influential ZeniMax-owned Bethesda announced a number of titles from blockbuster series, including DOOM, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, that it will be porting to competing virtual reality systems like HTC’s Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR. This comes as Facebook fights an injunction from the Oculus/ZeniMax lawsuit, for which it has already been ordered to pay up a half-billion dollars.

Marvel Powers United VR is bring slated for a 2018 release.


Marvel is bringing its superheroes to VR with a new Oculus-exclusive game

How ‘Black Panther’ deals with the issue of ‘Man-Ape’

M’Baku is trouble for Black Panther.

He’s the ruler of the Wakanda’s mountain tribe and has serious issues with how T’Challa is fulfilling his role as the nation’s new king.

But M’Baku was also a potential problem for Black Panther the movie.

That’s because the comic-book version of this villain, who first appeared in Avengers #62 in March 1969, encased himself in white fur and attacked the hero under the moniker “Man-Ape.”

Rather than abandon one of Black Panther’s most famous antagonists, Marvel Studios decided to rescue M’Baku. The character is a hard-bitten, ruthless warrior, but as played by actor Winston Duke (Person of Interest) he also has dignity and strength. Not that this makes him a nice guy.


And in a fictional culture where leaders take on the symbols of native animals (like the panther), his tribe’s affinity for the gorilla is regarded as something noble — not cringeworthy.

Still, the filmmakers felt that “Man-Ape” would never be an easy name for newcomers to accept.

“We don’t call him Man-Ape,” executive producer Nate Moore told EW during our set visit. “We do call him M’Baku.”

The problem was self-evident. “Having a black character dress up as an ape, I think there’s a lot of racial implications that don’t sit well, if done wrong,” said Moore. “But the idea that they worship the gorilla gods is interesting because it’s a movie about the Black Panther who, himself, is a sort of deity in his own right.”

So he’s still adorned with elements of fur on his arms and legs and sports a chest-plate that hints at the animal that is symbolic of his tribe. But he doesn’t wear the full gorilla mask that, in the comics, often made him literally look like that creature.

Director Ryan Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) borrowed some inspiration for the character from Marvel scribe Christopher Priest, who had an acclaimed 1998-2003 run on the Black Panther series.


“You learn that M’Baku is essentially the head of the religious minority in Wakanda and we thought that was interesting,” Moore said. “Wakanda is not a monolithic place. They have a lot of different factions.”

In Priest’s story line, M’Baku was enraged that his White Gorilla cult was outlawed, leading to a clash with the Panther. The character’s exact role in the film is still being kept under wraps, but the filmmakers confirm that M’Baku and his Jabari tribe are, once again, not happy with the young, new ruler (played by Chadwick Boseman).

“A lot of the writers who did some of the most interesting work around the character, they treated Wakanda like a truly African country,” Coogler said. “When you go to countries in Africa, you’ll find several tribes, who speak their own languages, have their own culture, and have distinct food and way of dress. They live amongst each other, and together they make the identity of those countries. That’s something we tried to capture. We wanted it to feel like a country, as opposed to just one city or town.”


M’Baku has a grievance with T’Challa, but he and his followers were equally unsettled by the previous king, T’Challa’s father T’Chaka — who was assassinated in Captain America: Civil War after trying to engage with the world beyond the closed-off, technological paradise of Wakanda.

“In M’Baku’s worldview, T’Chaka made a huge mistake going to the U.N.,” Moore says. “‘We should never engage with the outside world. That’s a terrible mistake. And if his son is anything like his father, I don’t support him being on the throne.’”

He has a better suggestion for king: himself. “Politically, he just has different ideology,” says Moore, who compares the mountain tribe to one of the deadly rival “five families” in The Godfather. “Man-Ape is a problematic character for a lot of reasons, but the idea behind Man-Ape we thought was really fascinating. … It’s a line I think we’re walking, and hopefully walking successfully.”


In addition to the portrait above, we’ve seen only a brief glimpse of Duke as M’Baku in the trailer, holding someone aloft in what looks like a merciless but powerful gesture. (It’s not clear who the captive is, but his garb is similar to the Border Tribe, which protects the secrets of Wakanda from the outside world.)

“In this movie, it’s a little tricky to define who’s a [good guy],” Coogler says. “The film very much plays with those concepts, looking at conflicts and different motivations, and who’s with who. M’Baku is a really interesting character, and I’m excited for people to get to see him.”

Black Panther opens Feb. 16.


How ‘Black Panther’ deals with the issue of ‘Man-Ape’

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