Marvel is expanding their TV offerings greatly, with Inhumans, Cloak & Dagger, Runaways, New Warriors, and Punisher all on their way to small screen debuts soon. In that context, CBR sat down and discussed the future of Marvel TV with Jeph Loeb, the master of all Marvel television shows, both MCU and non-MCU. In their conversation, they talked particularly about what the future would be for ABC and it seems like things are still open for more Marvel content.
Absolutely [more Marvel shows are coming to ABC]. Absolutely. Obviously, these aren’t things I can talk about. But look, as it is with every single one of the networks that we have gotten with that this is with, and whether it’s Fox or it’s FX or it’s Freeform, or it’s Hulu, or it’s Netflix, ABC is always going to be our mothership…It is a Disney-owned network. We are a Disney-owned corporation and we’re a good fit for each other.
We speak a lot of the same language and the kinds of things that are important to them, which is people rising up again adversity; real emotion; a strong female character, but also a strong sense of family and questions of identity…All of those things are key to being a successful ABC show, but they’re also key to being a Marvel show. So in that way we’re going to go and see what happens along the way.
What [ABC] got excited about Marvel’s Inhumans was the family drama aspect of it and the possibilities of something that had a big epic feel to it, but at the same time something that was small and intimate enough that they could get an audience hooked on it and so that’s where we started.
The fact that more TV shows are coming from Marvel and ABC is not a surprise. Given the corporate synergy involved, one would be shocked if they weren’t working on something. Also, Marvel shows are produced in house by ABC and Marvel, so the costs are lower than for shows aired on one network and produced by another. Those arrangements are quickly becoming obsolete as TV execs start tightening the belt in new economic realities. In addition to the common sense argument, reports have come out that ABC is working on a John Ridley project and a “Jessica Jones-esque” show. (Those projects could be one and the same.)
The focus on family and women is interesting. Inhumans is a slam dunk on both accounts so those criteria fit the decision to start that property up. Also, it is instructive of why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter both have focused on female protagonists more than the films tend to do. (This is a pet interest of mine, but Ms. Marvel would also fit ALL the above criteria.) ABC as a network has had it’s most success in recent years with their family comedies and female-audience heavy dramas. The insight these comments provide is that Marvel is trying to work alongside of those values, not offer counter-programming (i.e. male audience dominated shows) to the dominant trend of the network.
Given the love for ABC, why does Marvel do anything on other networks?
I think people confuse the fact that we go to other networks as a sign that we’re not on ABC…The truth of the matter is that those shows weren’t appropriate for us to be on ABC. How do we know that? We talk to ABC and we talk about what is it that you’re looking for?
Reading between those lines is an interesting exercise. One might guess that the Netflix shows have too much violent or sexual content for the Alphabet Network. A show like Jessica Jones meets many of the criteria given earlier, but network censors probably wouldn’t be happy with Netflix’s “PG-16” approach. Looking at the new rash of shows like Runaways, the logical conclusion is that ABC isn’t interested in youth oriented shows. While other networks, like Freeform and CW, are aiming directly at teens and twenty-somethings, ABC might not be interested in that play. Runaways and Cloak & Dagger both have a teen heavy plot, and New Warriors appears to be aiming at younger audiences as well.
So what does ABC want? What would fit the identity that Loeb is hinting at? Some of the usual suspects like Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk come to mind. A young Black Widow Alias-style show could be fun. Some other options that would be Loeb’s territory but not MCU might be an X-Men show or something with the Fantastic Four. Those are big time properties at other studios, so they aren’t likely. Maybe a solo Ghost Rider is still being kicked around.
What do you think? What shows might fit ABC’s adversity overcoming, female character featuring, family dynamic loving criteria? Share your thoughts in the comments below.