Monday Morning Critic – The Marvel Cinematic Universe And Why Jessica Jones on Netflix Shows Off Its Biggest Problems

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One of the perks of being Marvel, it seems, is that they are the 800 pound gorilla at the box office. Batman vs. Superman, the Man of Steel sequel and Justice League origin, moved dates because of a Captain America sequel. While Civil War may wind up as one of 2016’s biggest films, and has one of the best trailers of any film going into next year, the fact that what should be a massively popular film from Warner blinked and switched weekends instead of trying to compete for screens tells you the real opinion of Marvel Studios right now in Hollywood when it comes to the box office.

Everyone is looking to make their money around their features and not in competition. Right now Marvel is the ruler and master of the box office and people tremble in their wake. It’s why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a Christmas release this year instead of a summer blockbuster next year. It’s going to make an ungodly amount of money no matter what, of course, but there’s nothing this Christmas preventing it from making $200 million plus on opening weekend. This winter is set up for Star Wars to wreck the box office in a way that’ll be historic on every level. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is making billions for Disney and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

They are the box office juggernaut de jour right now and they are getting while the getting is good.

It also allows Marvel to explore different mediums and see what works, and what doesn’t, without having to commit $200 million to it. A Jessica Jones movie wouldn’t work at that budget, mainly because the sort of hard R-rated vision that Marvel has with the Netflix series of the same name wouldn’t draw enough to justify the expense. And a PG-13 version of the show wouldn’t work, either. Netflix is the right place and the show follows in the steps of Daredevil in being a great one to binge over a weekend. It’s what I did over the weekend when I wasn’t watching sports.

But one thing popped into mind as I watched the show. Jessica Jones succeeds because there are surprises to be found. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gotten to the point where we know where it’s going because Marvel has already told us.

We know where Jessica Jones is going to wind up, eventually, as a Defenders series is tentatively scheduled to kick off once Luke Cage and Iron Fist are done. Nothing is set in stone, of course, as Netflix has yet to start production on it or even announce a release date. Thus if certain metrics aren’t hit in viewing one imagines that it isn’t set in stone to actually occur. If Iron Fist and Luke Cage both wind up being disasters I can see Daredevil and Jessica Jones being continued without the Defenders looming. Both are stand alone shows and not elaborate vehicles to build up to the Defenders.

It’ll most likely run a handful of episodes if it comes to pass, of course, because the four individual series are much more important than the team up series that Defenders would be. But the key to why Jessica Jones, and to a similar extent Daredevil, is succeeding is because the MCU has been so meticulously planned out that there’s no room to do anything shocking or outside the box in the years to come. The creative light is wide open for season 2 of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones to continue in a number of different paths.

There’s a beauty to it. The future is bright and unknown, with potentially a big culmination series but one that hasn’t even been announced yet. Each of the television shows so far has been designed so that there isn’t the need to wind up needing to culminate in something grand. We could be okay with just a Jessica Jones series on it’s own in the same way we could with Daredevil.

The films of the MCU, however, are all bound to each other for better or worse.

It’s a bold strategy by Marvel, which is essentially using each individual film to build up to one large Avengers film to conclude the over-arching story line. Marvel has sacrificed it’s creative process to a certain degree to set up a release schedule dependent on the MCU turning straw into gold with a number of new characters and franchises ala The Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel has a schedule set up and they’re counting on things like an Inhumans film to be able to draw the sort of box office grosses as more established characters in the American lexicon like Captain America.

Marvel has been able to turn anything they do into box office bucks en masse to the point where they’re afraid to take any risks. There’s a reason why they’ve announced a schedule in advance; no one of significance in the Marvel world is going to die or change radically throughout the series because they’re already lined up for more movies. You can’t kill off Thor in the last Avengers film because he has a sequel to star in, et al, and the only ones who’ll wind up becoming casualties of any major superhero conflict in the MCU are their equivalent to the red shirts of Star Trek.

Daredevil and Jessica Jones don’t have that problem … and it’ll be curious if and when they do what Netflix and Marvel do if it happens.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Krampus – Evil Santa attacks!

Skip it – Great cast for a comedy … but it’s a horror film. Be advised.

Chi-Raq – Chicago’s women engage in a sex strike to stop the violence.

Skip it – I have a bad feeling about this … especially when people who’s opinions matter are not fans of the run up.

The Letters – Mother Teresa gets a biopic of sorts.

See it – It opens to 1,000 theatres and has

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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