The Marvel Cinematic Universe has expanded beyond the big screen. But are the films better than the TV shows, or have the TV shows eclipsed the films?
In one corner, there is the critically acclaimed “Captain America: Civil War” and its blockbuster brethren, which have earned positive reviews while raking in billions of dollars in international box office receipts and earning eight Oscar nominations to date. The “Iron Man” franchise helped solidify Robert Downey Jr.‘s Hollywood comeback, while other Marvel titles exploded the careers of several actors named Chris – Evans (“Captain America”), Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Pratt (“Guardians of the Galaxy”). They also made an unlikely action hero out of comedian Paul Rudd (“Ant-Man”).
But in the opposite corner are the grittier TV adaptations of more down-to-earth Marvel heroes, including the violent Hell’s Kitchen intensity of lawyer/crusader “Daredevil” and the dark modern noir of private eye “Jessica Jones.” Both of those shows are distributed by Netflix, which allows for darker, edgier creative visions than the PG-13 films usually allow.
TV critics have embraced them both. “Daredevil” received a 75 MetaCritic score for its first season last spring and a 68 for its recently premiered second season. It earned a trio of Emmy nominations in 2015 in craft categories (Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Main Title Design). “Jessica Jones” scored an even more impressive 81 from critics last fall, and star Krysten Ritter picked up a Best Drama Actress nomination at the Critics’ Choice Awards. This year will be its first competing for Emmys.
Also on the small screen is the ABC adventure series “Agents of SHIELD,” whose sunnier tone is closer in spirit to Marvel’s big-screen offerings. Now in its third season, “SHIELD” has picked up a pair of Emmy bids, both for its visual effects. ABC also has the critically admired “Agent Carter,” spun off from the first “Captain America” film.
The Marvel TV universe continues to expand just as rapidly as the film universe, with “Damage Control” in development at ABC and “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “The Defenders” and “The Punisher” slated for Netflix.
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