Teased in October, Marvel Studios’ massive television plans were partially revealed last week when it was announced that four new shows, “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage” are all headed to Netflix. Starting in 2015, at least 13 episodes from each show will be released that will, in turn, build to a massive small screen crossover miniseries, “The Defenders.” How is all of this going to tie into the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe? Consider it pure speculation at this stage, but we’ve got a theory: What if the new Netflix shows take place in the MCU of the 1970s?
“It’s important to us that audiences begin to realize that it’s called the Marvel Universe for a reason,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige told us in a recent interview. “It encompasses everything.”
The size of the MCU is about to be tested on the big screen with James Gunn’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, a cosmic adventure that Feige says takes place 99% in outer space. We’ve already seen a more temporal expansion of the universe, too, with the 1940’s world of Captain America: The First Avenger and the Marvel One-Shot, “Agent Carter,” which is already said to be targeting a presumably period series. Clearly Marvel is eager to embrace growth in more than just three dimensions.
Feige mentions in the same video interview that Marvel Television, headed by Jeph Loeb, is an entity all its own. While we’ve already seen crossovers between the films and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, the studio would have less of a continuity headache by earmarking an unexplored decade of the MCU.
“Daredevil” (which is now targeting The Cabin in the Woods helmer Drew Goddard to write) is said to be the first of the new Netflix series in development. Although Matt Murdock first appeared in his 1964 solo title, a ’70s era take on the Man Without Fear was previously being considered by Twentieth Century Fox when they held the big screen rights. The Grey helmer Joe Carnahan even shot two different pitch reels (which you can check out right here) that offered a glimpse at the savior of Hell’s Kitchen through a Serpico-tinged lens.
“The Defenders,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron First” also fit a potential ’70s aesthetic having debuted in 1971, 1972 and 1974, respectively. One of the major advantages of a period setting would be to allow each of the series to embrace the era’s more colorful fashion sense without shattering the overall versimilitude.
Although Jessica Jones wasn’t created until the 21st century (making her debut in 2001’s “Alias” #1), the character was designed to have retroactively always been a part of the Marvel Universe. In the 616, Jones is very closely connected to Cage and there should be no doubt that that bond is going to be explored when these new shows debut, regardless of when they take place.
Although a 1970’s setting would distance the new shows from other MCU projects temporally, certain crossovers would make perfect sense. If his arc matches that of his comic book counterpart, Sebastian Stan’s titular Captain America: The Winter Soldier character would theoretically be around and, as we know from Iron Man 2, Howard Stark is quite active and even brings his Stark Expo to New York in 1974. That could mean a potential reprisal of the Howard Stark character by John Slattery or even appearances by a young Tony Stark. Speaking of Slattery, having a small screen 1970’s MCU debut in 2015 means that it could pick up in exactly the era that the pending series finale of “Mad Men” leaves off, potentially attracting a whole new audience of viewers looking to fill the void left behind by the Matthew Weiner series’ departure.
“[I want] to have a film that basically is about Henry Pym and Scott Lang,” writer-director Edgar Wright said in an interview about his take on the upcoming Ant-Man, “so you actually do a prologue where you see Pym as Ant-Man in action in the 60’s, in sort of ‘Tales to Astonish’ mode basically, and then the contemporary, sort of flash-forward, is Scott Lang’s story, and how he comes to acquire the suit, how he crosses paths with Henry Pym, and then, in an interesting sort of Machiavellian way, teams up with him.”
Assuming that a flashback prologue is still a part of the final film (the interview is, admittedly, seven years old), it would seem that Ant-Man‘s July 31, 2015 release is perfectly timed to reintroduce a potential MCU of the past on the big screen around the same time that the Netflix series would be set to premiere.
A final potential clue lies in Feige’s recent confirmation that the MCU will continue to establish and build on the Infinity Gems, two of which have now made definite appearances. Although we don’t know for sure which stone Thor: The Dark World‘s Aether represents, it’s almost certainly not Time. If the plan is to establish the Time Gem in the MCU, there’s even more reason to develop seperate eras of fictional history and the bonus of being able to eventually have them cross over using that stone.
This is, of course, all early conjecture, so don’t be too disappointed if a 1970’s take on these characters is not what ultimately emerges from the House of Ideas. Still, a seperate 1970’s small screen MCU could pave the way for all kinds of characters who originally made their debuts during the era. What’s more, many of Marvel’s heroes and villians aren’t necessarily limited to average human lifespans and could appear throughout the fictional history of the MCU.
What are your own thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of potentially setting these shows in the past? Sound off below!