Back in October 2013, it was reported that Marvel was developing up to four drama series and a miniseries, with a whopping 60 episodes in total. These concepts were presented to a number of different video on demand services and only after 3 weeks of negotiations Marvel announced that they would provide a live action series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist to Netflix.
Despite the excitement most fans expressed at the time there were a lot of people who showed scepticism over the deal with most focusing on Daredevils inclusion and the partnership with Netflix. Daredevil fans still felt haunted by the 2003 film version starring Ben Affleck (Argo, the Town, Gone Girl) which left a large percentage of them disappointed after its release, while others felt unsure about Marvels partnership with Netflix as they felt the shows wouldn’t reach a “larger audience” with them being kept exclusively on the video on demand service.
Fast forward to today and you’ll find a much different story. Daredevil was received with critical acclaim and was praised with its darker and much grittier tone compared to other Marvel properties while others loved how the hit series got away with certain “themes” Marvel would not find suitable within their big movie releases. This quickly got fans wondering about the number of other comic book characters Marvel would usually have a hard time including within their Cinematic Universe because of the darker and more series themes they possess.
As a comic reader myself and thinking about the possibilities with Netflix I came across a familiar face which would be perfect for his own video on demand series in the same vein as Daredevil. The superhero and vampire hunter Eric Brooks, aka Blade.
Eric Brooks was born in Soho London 1929. His mother Vanessa Brooks experienced labour complications during his birth and a Doctor was quickly called for assistance. Unfortunately the Doctor turned out to be a vampire named Deacon Frost and feasted on Vanessa as she was in labour resulting in the child becoming a half breed between man and vampire. Through this Eric ended up carrying all the strengths a vampire possessed but none of their weaknesses.
After being brought up in the brothel he was born in Eric took to the streets as an orphan. He then came across a vampire hunter called Jamal Afari who was being attacked and overpowered by a group of vampires. Learning of Eric’s origins and what he was Jamal decided to take him under his wing and train him. It was here during his training that Eric decided he would use his new skills to avenge his mother’s death and call himself Blade after his chosen weapon of choice.
What we can learn from this brief insight into Blades origin story is that he has a similar (but not a lot) elements to Matt Murdock origins in Daredevil. They both possess some form of abilities, they both grew up without their parents which later became their motivation for their own fighting cause and they both received training when they were younger of how to use their abilities.
It’s clear that Blade could offer up the same kind of series that Daredevil gave us but dealing with the side of Marvel which hasn’t been uncovered yet. Daredevil was used to bring a much darker world to light while Blade could be used to do the same but with creatures not yet established within the Marvel Universe.
With Blade being set in England it could offer a deeper look into the British side of the Marvel comics. Apart from British Agent Peggy Carter and with some of Thor: The Dark World being set in the UK, Marvel hasn’t really shown audiences much of other locations outside of America with Britain being one of them.
So what could we do about that? Well it’s pretty simple, Blade could be the start of the British side of Marvel and if the series does well it could lead to the inclusion of MI13, the British equivalent of SHIELD. This alone houses many heroes which could have their own series before seeing the full team come together like what Marvel are doing now with their current line up and how it leads to a Defenders miniseries starting all their current Netflix heroes. MI13 are home to heroes like Captain Britain, Union Jack, Black Knight and Spitfire.
With the UK being home to some of these lesser known heroes I think it’s a perfect time for Marvel to start to use Netflix to create shows around some of the more popular characters like Blade so they can slowly add references to the lesser known ones over time.
Blade could also introduce new themes within the overall cinematic Universe as not one film yet as touched upon the super natural elements within the Marvel comics. Now you could say Marvel just won’t be able to incorporate these kind of elements into the Universe they’ve established so far but who is to say they have to stick to it 100%. We’ve seen with the films so far that Marvel have had to create short cuts and alternative connections because of the fact they don’t own all their properties and even with a character like Thor they’ve ended up swapping magic for science, so who’s to say they can’t do the same here with things like Vampires.
The origin of vampires starts in the lost city of Atlantis 15,000 years ago where a small group of sorcerers came across a book known as the Darkhold, filled with arcane lore and dark magic written a millennia earlier by a demon named Chthon. Thinking they could control their enemies the sorcerers used this dark magic to bring them back to life in vampiric form however unknowing to them the vampires resisted and were much stronger then they realised. In the end the vampires escaped before Atlantis sank into the far depths of the ocean.
As you can see this isn’t really something which can be adapted with the Universe Marvel has currently set up so obviously science will have to come into play like they did with Thor to make sense of it all. Atlantis could be real but instead of sorcerers they were scientists who were trying to either create a bio weapon like our governments do today or they were trying to find how to become immortal leading to their own destruction. Either one of these scenarios would translate well on screen but in the end the story about these vampires escaping would still play out on screen the same.
After establishing these new themes for their Universe Marvel could then look into adding more characters who would most likely fit into the same category as Blade, people like Ghost Rider, Man Thing, Morbius, Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night and Jennifer Kale, the latter being a great connection to Atlantis.
Ah good old Netflix, look at how much you have grown. One of the key reasons of Daredevils success was because of the partnership with Netflix. This was mainly because of the freedom the show had compared to a show which was being broadcast on a cable network like NBC, CBS or Fox. Most shows have to jump through hoops and hurdles on what they can and cannot do which really can dumb some shows down or even lessen their impact. If we take a look at Constantine for example, a recent but short lived DC comic adaptation which broadcast on NBC the character wasn’t even allowed to smoke a cigarette, now that wouldn’t be so bad if smoking a cigarette wasn’t one of John Constantine’s key character traits. Less restrictions allowed the writers to have more breathing room and really let it be set apart from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and boy is that true as there are things within the show which you would never see in the likes of Iron Man, Captain America or Thor. So if you want to do a show about a violent vampire hunter I think Netflix would be the best place to show him in action.
There will come a day in the future where Marvel will have to introduce new themes and directions that go against the same old Superhero stories they’ve been telling. The best way to do that in my opinion is to prepare for it now and have it ready for when they want to adapt some of these characters onto the big screen. If Marvel starts to use Netflix or TV shows in general to establish new characters the films just don’t have time for then they won’t have to scramble around at the last minute and waste a potential film slot by doing that. At the minute they currently seem to be doing this with the upcoming film Doctor Strange which deals in the more spiritual side of Marvel but one character alone won’t be enough to establish that side of the comics. The best way to start this new, bold direction is to start with Blade and slowly work from there, who knows maybe one day we will see the Midnight Sons alongside the Avengers and the Defenders.