It would be impossible for you guys to have missed the fact that I am a HUGE comic book fan, and I always have been! The characters, the stories, the heroes, the villains, the connectivity between one story and another…when I was a kid, comic books were seriously hitting their peak. An entire revolution had been ignited, and I absorbed as much of it as I could possibly afford. (Which wasn’t much, but I got my fair share! Believe me!) So much so, that anyone reading my long running series on the Shack Out Back Website can clearly see the comic book influence on the story structure, and the focus on character. Comic books taught me everything I know about drama, plot twists, depth of character, and story development through longevity. It wasn’t until Marvel Comics finally took a shot at doing something unheard of in 2008’s “Iron Man” movie…combining characters and storylines in the movies the same way that they always had done in the comic books, that I FINALLY got to see the stories I loved as a kid come to life in a way that was totally unprecedented on that platform! Seeing ‘Nick Fury’ show up as a secret Easter Egg at the end of “Iron Man” was amazing, sure. And everybody credits that with being the jump off point that fans should worship as the beginning of something truly legendary. But…for ME? It was the end scene in “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton that really blew my mind! Tony Stark (And it’s ACTUALLY Robert Downey Jr!!!) shows up in a movie that he didn’t have anything to do with…but proves that this is all happening in the same ‘world’, and that crossovers are possible! WTF??? Yeah, that shocked the shit out of me the first time I saw it! Comic books were finally being given their just due…and I LOVED it!

Since then, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pulling out one unstoppable hit after another! Hell, even the BAD ones are pretty good, if you sit and watch them again. And things kept spreading from there! Getting better and better and more in depth with each new chapter. Then…some of Marvel’s coolest, ‘down to Earth’, heroes took the leap…and they came to Netflix! And while that intrigued and excited me at first…I was a bit skeptical. Some characters only work in the comic books, and they just don’t translate well to live action. (AHEM…”Fantastic Four”!!! Cough cough!!!) And “Daredevil” has been tried a few times before…with dismal results. So has “The Punisher”. And this was during a time when movies like Nicholas Cage’s “Ghost Rider” was a total miss! But…”Blade” was cool though, right? So, it’s a flip of the coin when it comes to success, I guess.

However, skepticism aside, there was no way that I wasn’t going to give these Netflix series a try! I wanted to see if they could pull it off. Curiosity alone kept me grinding my teeth until i was able to jump in and see if Marvel was going to keep up the momentum that they had going with the movies. And let me tell you, folks…they did NOT disappoint! Not one bit!

I can, honestly, say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every series so far! And if you’ve been on the fence and waiting for some sort of excuse to finally dive in and give them a chance…let me be your voice of reason! You won’t regret it.

Every show has its own particular ‘vibe’ to it. The characters are on different journeys during different times in their lives. But the advantage of a Netflix series is that you get to explore a character’s life and learn their personalities, flaws, and motivations, in a way that you just can’t create in a 90 minute, 2 hour long, movie. There are a few occasions where this may lead to some episodes that feel a little like ‘filler’, but then things kick right back into gear and we’re off to the races again. Also, while you won’t see any of the big MCU characters showing up in any of the shows, it’s made abundantly clear that everything is happening in the same world, and at the same time. Beginning with “Daredevil” who is dealing with a power struggle within the criminal underground and a real estate crisis following the events of the first “Avengers” movie, referred to as the ‘incident’, where an alien army rained down from the sky and wrecked havoc on the entire city. (Ummm…yeah. The Avengers did kind of make a mess of New York, didn’t they?) So while the Netflix shows are done on a much smaller scale and the heroes are more ground level soldiers, the depth, intrigue, and definitely the ACTION, is sure to keep you entertained from beginning to end. However, don’t expect colorful costumes and PG-13 content. These shows are definitely on Netflix for a reason, and they’re not afraid to shed a little blood while getting the job done. Four of the shows have two seasons under their belt, each. And so far, every second season has been bigger and better the first. The only exception being “Jessica Jones”…but the villain in the first season was SO damn cool, that he would be hard to top. Not for lack of trying, though. It’s also fun to see many of the characters crossover from one show to the next, seamlessly combining the worlds together with little to no effort whatsoever. It’s hard to see how they pull it off, to be honest.

If you haven’t seen these yet, you’re definitely missing out. For your average movie-going Marvel fan, you’ll have a lot of fun. For comic book fans, there are a LOT of little Easter Eggs sprinkled throughout all of the series! Keep your eyes peeled. And for fans of just good Netflix fodder, you’re certain to get all wrapped up as well. They’re very easy to love! Give them a look. And enjoy! The proper ‘order’ to watch them in (To follow the flow of the overall story), is as follows:

 

Daredevil Season 1

Jessica Jones Season 1

Daredevil Season 2

Luke Cage Season 1

Iron Fist Season 2

The Defenders

The Punisher

Jessica Jones Season 2

Luke Cage Season 2

Iron Fist Season 2

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Netflix and Marvel made the right choice, choosing Daredevil to be their first foray into this new concept. With him being the most grounded and most ‘human’ of the crew, he’s also easily relatable. The first season exposes audiences to the dark and gritty feel that the shows to come are sure to follow. This series has a little bit of everything. It’s a superhero action show, it’s a crime mystery, it’s a courtroom drama, all rolled into one. Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer with superhuman senses, goes out at night to bring justice to those rich and corrupt enough to find loopholes in the law. People who are governed by a sinister group of mob bosses who hide in the shadows. One, in particular, Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin. Played BRILLIANTLY By Vincent D’onofrio! Honestly, all of the Netflix series villains are amazing! Even better than the ones in the movies! And then, Season 2 comes along and brings in the characters of Punisher and Elektra, and things get taken to the next level. Despite the success of all the shows, Daredevil is still ranked the crowd favorite among them all. They certainly started off with a bang!

 

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Where Daredevil is celebrated as the best show in this cluster, Jessica Jones is well beloved as one of the best characters. Sarcastic, standoffish, and downright hilarious because of her snarky attitude, the Jessica Jones series is probably one of the most psychologically twisted of the group. Imagine a ‘damaged’ version of Wonder Woman. She’s super strong, she can jump almost to the point of being able to fly, heals quickly…but she keeps everybody at arm’s length at all times. Burying her woes and regrets in a bottle of booze, night after night…trying to ‘forget’. On this show, Jessica is a private eye, and a lot of her detective skills come into play as this modern film noir feeling gets brought to life. There is a lot of internal conflict going on here, as she faces an old enemy. Killgrave (aka The Purple Man), was played with absolute GENIUS by former Dr. Who, David Tennant, and he’s probably the best villain that Marvel Netflix has ever offered up! A sadist with the power of mind control, who held Jessica ‘hostage’ for a long long time. As his puppet. His lover. And now he wants her back. When dealing with mind control and the damaged people it leaves behind…who do you trust? How can you leave the house when you know he might have told somebody to put a bullet in your head the second they see you? It’s an awesome show, and a great follow up to Daredevil! Not to mention it introduces Luke Cage in the best way possible! Hehehe! Season 2 had a lot of great stuff going on with it, but…David Tennant stole the show in the first season, so…it’s good, but not as awesome as the first.

 

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From film noir detective feels, we jump into Luke Cage: Hero For Hire (aka Power Man)! The comics came out around the big Blaxploitation film craze of the 70’s (Shaft, Foxy Brown, Superfly), with an African American superhero with unbreakable skin. Bulletproof, fireproof…practically indestructible. This show takes place in Harlem, New York, shortly after the events of Jessica Jones, where Luke plays a reluctant role in becoming a hero in his own hometown. However, with a conscious and a heart of gold…an indestructible man can’t just stand by and let crime run rampant without jumping in to do something about it. Trouble finds him as gangs, drugs, and high tech weapons, infest the city to the point where Luke can no longer remain in the background. And he’s forced to come to blows with crime boss, ‘Cottonmouth’. Another EXCELLENT main villain, played by recent Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali! Also, a devious political villain played by another Oscar winner, Alfre Woodard. Luke Cage may be invulnerable, but their scheming and influence proves that he can be hurt just the same if he doesn’t stay out of their way. The first season was great, the second season was even better, and it brings another Netflix fan favorite in the form of ‘hard as nails’ crime detective, Misty Knight! Who I can never get enough of! Love you, Misty! So don’t miss this one!

 

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Now…a lot of people completely DOGGED Iron Fist when the series was first released! I never understood why, though. While there were definitely some production problems going into this series before the cameras even started rolling, and it does have a few issues here and there, the only real problem plaguing Iron Fist is that it’s up against the other shows, which are FURIOUS competition due to their quality. I liked Iron Fist a lot! I think the only problem I had with it was the fact that lead actor, Finn Jones, only had a few weeks worth of training before filming began, so the fight choreography was nowhere near the level that it should have been. Where Luke Cage was placed around the Blaxploitation era of movies, Iron Fist reflects the kung-Fu cinema mania around that same time. The Bruce Lee, Gordon Liu, Five Deadly Venoms, age! Iron Fist is meant to be an unbeatable BADASS! But other than that, the characters and the story was great. And this is the major link between all four shows and the upcoming Defenders series. It even brings back plot lines and characters that were set up in the first season of Daredevil…so watching it is a necessity. And as far as protagonist, ‘Danny Rand’, the barefoot billionaire, is concerned…Finn Jones played him to a tee. He’s been away from society since he was a kid. He’s a bit awkward, a bit immature…he says things that are ‘corny’ sometimes. Hehehe, but that’s the Iron Fist! That’s how he’s supposed to act. So, I’m not sure what people were expecting from this show, but anybody who tells you the show was ‘awful’ is exaggerating. A LOT! Check it out, and see for yourself!

 

 

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Oh yes! It had to happen! Obviously…this is the Netflix version of the Avengers concerning these characters! And it was everything I wanted it to be. Everyone gets a chance to shine in their own way. They all bring their unique personalities and special abilities to the table, and whatever vibe their series had when you were watching it…it’s represented here. So now you get the courtroom drama, the vigilante, the blaxploitation, the film noir private eye, and the mystic martial arts flick, all combined into one. And almost EVERYBODY shows up at one time or another. Not just the main characters, but the side characters too. And they all have relevance to what’s going on. It never feels cluttered or forced. It makes sense for them to meet up the way that they do, and I really loved that. Now, there are some ‘team-up’ shows that you can jump right into and skip all of the others. I want to let you guys know that The Defenders is NOT one of those shows. When it begins, each of our heroes is dealing with the events of what happened at the end of their last season. You will not be able to fully follow or appreciate what’s going on in this show if you haven’t watched all of the seasons before this. So don’t go in blind thinking that you’ll get the gist of it. You won’t. Hehehe! It would be like watching the season finale of a show you’ve never watched before. Trust me, watch the others first. The Defenders is SO much better when you do! So don’t skip anything!

 

 

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The moment that I heard that John Bernthal (‘Shane’ from The Walking Dead) had been cast as The Punisher…I wanted to faint! Hahaha! That’s the best damn casting choice they could have ever made! There’s NOBODY who could have done a better job at portraying this. I’m convinced of this. This series, while not directly attached to the events of The Defenders, sets The Punisher off to finish what he started in Daredevil Season 2. And it is BRUTAL! This series takes on more of a vigilante, revenge, movie where the violence is almost on a grindhouse theater level. He’s not fuckin’ around! He’s going through whatever and whoever he needs to go through to find out who murdered his wife and children, and if you’re in the way, or know anything about what happened on the night in question…well…sucks to be you. Because he’s going to find you. And it’s going to hurt. This series had to actually push back it’s original release date, as it was set to debut shortly after the massacre in Las Vegas, which turned out to be one of the worst mass shootings in American history. I can definitely respect them holding off for a little in memory of the lives lost there. And I’m pretty certain that he will be back for a season two. Fans LOVED the show! And look forward to the next fictional bloodbath to explode on their TV screen! Go get ’em, Frank! And thanks for finally doing the Punisher justice!

 

 

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AND…DON’T FORGET
CAN’T WAIT XD

Published September 14, 2018