It may be entertaining to watch heroes like Daredevil or Jessica Jones kicking butt on Netflix, but that doesn't mean the series get everything right about the Marvel Universe. There are certain things that work and feel like authentic moments from the comic books, but a lot of plot points and character decisions just feel clunky or unnecessary. Even the action scenes, one of the things that stands out from the first season of Daredevil, are made inconsistently and dip in quality as the Netflix Universe marches forward.
Obviously, there are a lot of great things going for these shows and the fact that the shared universe equation succeeds on the silver screen is an impressive accomplishment, but that doesn't mean everything works. For every successful, tense scene, there are a handful of moments that hold each series back and remind viewers that they are watching cheesy television shows. The Marvel Universe is a cheery place with room for growth and infinite potential, hopefully the Netflix shows can tap into that spirit and grow as things progress in the near future. Pause your stream for a second and come check out these 16 things Netflix can't get right about the Marvel Universe!
16 MOVIES DON'T CROSS OVER
While the Netflix series take place in the same cinematic universe movies that The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy take place in, the television shows do not cross over with the films. In fact, the series go out of their to isolate themselves from the various movies. No big screen superheroes ever make appearances or are even directly mentioned by name. The closest thing to a direct reference comes when someone calls Luke Cage the "Captain America of Harlem," but landmarks like Avengers Tower or Stark products never appear in the various New York set series.
Part of what makes the Marvel Universe such an entertaining place is the interconnection. It's common for heroes like Captain America and Daredevil to cross paths, but the Netflix shows aren't allowed to cross over in the same fulfilling way.
15 TOO MUCH FOCUS ON THE HAND
One of the through lines between all of the Netflix series is the heavy presence of The Hand. A centuries old clan originally from Japan, the organization is a mystical group that uses its global network of ninjas and assassins to further its various plots. While they are deadly and complex, the heavy focus on the group results in them losing their mysterious sheen and coming across as less interesting every time they make an appearance.
Since they were meant to be the big villain in The Defenders, the group was constantly teased out and discussed in various series.
By the time they made presence felt in The Defenders, it's hard for the audience to care because we've already seen them fight Marvel's street-level heroes numerous times.
14 MISSING THE HEROES FOR HIRE
While Luke Cage and Iron Fist teamed up in The Defenders, the full potential of their partnership has barely been tapped into. The Heroes For Hire business started as a one-man operation with Luke Cage offering his services up as a security guard, but he eventually brought his friend into the business to expand its reach.
The two of them become best friends due to working so closely together and remain close after they exit the business and hand if off to other heroes like Misty Knight to operate. Luckily, Danny Rand is set to appear in Luke Cage season two so there is room for their friendship to grow, but it's up to the executives whether or not the friends set up their signature business or not.
13 WHERE ARE THE AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.?
When something goes wrong in the Marvel Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. is there to assess the situation and try to save the day. Even in the cinematic universe, the global spy network has a big presence and constantly shows up whenever things are going sideways. Agent Coulson and his agents have their own show on ABC that is more directly tied into the film world, but they never cross over into the Netflix side of things.
The Hand is a shadowy organization that has bases around the world, so it makes sense that S.H.I.E.L.D. would pop up whenever the villainous group makes a move.
Despite that, S.H.I.E.L.D. has no presence in any of the Netflix series and Daredevil and Luke Cage are forced to fight these global threats without any assistance from the higher ups.
12 NOT EXPANSIVE ENOUGH
The Marvel Universe is a big place, but all of the Netflix series primarily take place in New York City. It was always part of the plan for all of the street level heroes to come together for The Defenders, but it has resulted in a small world. Instead of showing how expansive the Marvel Universe can be, the Netflix series focus on specific sliver of the overall picture.
To keep things contained, each new series is a direct spin-off or logical next step from the previous series. Moving forward, Netflix should look outside the New York bubble and introduce characters like Moon Knight or Union Jack to give the appearance of an ever growing universe. While most of Marvel's most popular characters live in New York, there are numerous heroes who call other cities home who equally deserve their own series.
11 LACK GOOD STORIES
One of the biggest problems with the Netflix series is the simple, repetitive story structure. About half-way through every season, the plot of each show pivots and the central hero is forced to focus on a new threat. Even though a lot of the plots are based on famous stories, the shows all seem to drag in the later half due to changes from the source material.
Part of the Netflix universe's progression towards The Defenders meant each of the series had similar subplots that ran through them.
Moving forward, each series needs to pivot and focus on isolated ideas that allow the titular heroes to face unique challenges. Forcing every series to move to a similar ending has resulted in a weak overall story, so the each show needs to refocus on building the main characters and their supporting cast instead of marching towards another overarching plot.
10 WHERE'S SPIDER-MAN?
Unfortunately, since the Netflix series aren't allowed to cross over with the cinematic universe, the friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man can't appear in any of the shows. It makes sense that characters like Star-Lord or Hulk don't cross over, but Spider-Man is also a street level character who often interacts with Daredevil and the Punisher. In fact, Punisher made his debut in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man and Kingpin is a major antagonist for Peter Parker just like he is for Matt Murdock.
The current version of Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland, is too young to be a photographer for the Daily Bugle. It would have been a fun easter egg to at least show a picture with Parker's name on it, but Netflix is barred from including some of Marvel's most legendary characters.
9 WRONG CONNECTING CHARACTERS
While the Netflix series don't connect to the films, they do all cross over with each other. Before The Defenders put all the heroes in contact with each other for the first time, characters like the Night Nurse and Karen Page were making appearances in various series. While Karen Page works in Daredevil, her presence in The Punisher felt forced. In fact, she wasn't supposed to appear in the show, but showrunner Steve Lightfoot wanted her so the story had to shift to include the character.
Even when Netflix uses an appropriate character to link two series together, sometimes things happen to the character off-screen that are unexplained.
Between Luke Cage's introduction in Jessica Jones and the debut of his own series, it's clear something happens that knocks down the proud entrepreneur and leaves him hiding his identity and working multiple jobs, but audiences aren't given enough information.
Elektra is one of the few characters who appropriately crossed over into multiple series. While Elodie Young's performance as the assassin is impressive, the character's depiction is weak. Instead of being a strong warrior who becomes one of the leaders of the Hand in the comics, she is reincarnated and slowly manipulated into serving as the evil organization's weapon. She is misled into fighting the Defenders, and it's only when she interacts with her old friend Daredevil again does she finally break out from the group's control.
Instead of giving the character a complex arc, Netflix cheaply kills her off and gives her a generic arc that shows her being tricked into joining the dark side. It would have been far more interesting had the character died and been revealed as a Skrull, a callback to the start of the "Secret Invasion" storyline from 2008.
7 TONALLY CONSISTENT
Daredevil and Iron Fist may be different shows, but they are tonally very similar. Every one of the Netflix series has a similar dark, dreary feeling that results in all of the shows feeling the same. Additionally, a lot of the shows have similar plot structures that makes it hard to feel surprised when certain story beats take place.
The comic books, in comparison, have a plethora of tones that help establish the Marvel Universe as a more authentic feeling place.
Each Netflix series may have a different plot, but they all feel the same at the end of the day. To make their universe feel richer, the future seasons of the show need to diversify the ways they tell stories and focus on bringing in different tones.
6 DISAPPOINTING VILLAINS
Except for Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin and David Tennant's Kilgrave, the Netflix Universe is held back by mediocre villains. The comic books have both intimidating and weak villains, but the television series all have cheesy villains who come across as ridiculous or overly campy on the silver screen. Everyone from Diamondback to Madame Gao come across as silly instead of as the menacing foes they are meant to be.
Just like the Marvel films, the poor villains are one of the biggest flaws to the Netflix corner of the universe. To make the universe more comic book accurate, the future seasons of the Netflix shows need to focus on bringing in some interesting villains who have complex personalities as well as impressive abilities that allow them to challenge the heroes.
5 LUKE CAGE SHOULD LEAD
The Netflix series do a decent job of showing off Luke Cage's true potential as he beats down villains across the Marvel Universe. Cage fought villains in three Marvel series, but by the time all of the Netflix heroes came together in The Defenders Daredevil took the lead of the team. While that made sense from a chronological perspective because Matt Murdock was the first character in this corner of the Marvel Universe, Luke Cage is a better fit to lead the team.
Not only has he been a leader multiple Avengers squads and the Thunderbolts, but he's likely the most powerful member of the Defenders. Hopefully the character will grow into a leader with the supposed death of Daredevil, but he still deserves more than just leading four heroes on the street level of things.
4 NO MUTANTS
In addition to not being able to cross over with The Avengers, the Disney backed Netflix shows aren't allowed to interact with Marvel characters who belong to other studios. Groups like the X-Men and Fantastic Four, both of which use New York as a base of operations, can't fight crime or come into conflict with The Defenders.
To make the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe feel more believable, it needs as many established, ancillary characters as possible.
While characters like Xavier or Wolverine don't need to make appearances, lesser known mutants would work well in shows like Jessica Jones and Iron Fist. Once the Disney/Fox buyout kicks in, hopefully some mutants will be making appearances in the Netflix Universe sooner rather than later.
3 PUNISHER'S SKILLS
Jon Bernthal's Punisher may be an impressive killer, but he still gets his butt kicked quite a lot. In Daredevil season two and his own series, Frank Castle gets bruised, shot and is almost stopped multiple times. In the comics, on the other hand, the Punisher can go toe-to-toe with most of the Marvel Universe's strongest characters. In Civil War he's shown single-handedly breaking into the Fantastic Four run Baxter Building and in Punisher:War Zone Castle declares war on and takes down multiple members of the Avengers.
To keep the audience engaged with the character's wellbeing, Netflix kept the Punisher relatively subdued and more susceptible to getting hurt. His own series was quite action packed, but Castle still never lived up to his comic book potential.
2 AVOIDING K'UN LUN
Despite the fact that all of the series contain mystical elements and tie back to the overarching story with the Hand, Netflix went out of their way to show as little of K'un Lun as possible in Iron Fist. The mysterious city is only accessible to mortals every 15 years, but the series didn't explore the mysterious setting in-depth enough to make it feel like a valuable location in the Marvel Universe.
At the end of Iron Fist, the city magically disappears and the hero feels guilty for not being there to defend it, but it's hard for the audience to empathize with the character because we weren't given enough information to make the location feel significant. The MCU is full of complex locations, and the Netflix series would benefit from going out of their way to establish more settings as important.
1 IRON FIST IS COOL
This may be hard to believe for people whose only exposure to Iron Fist comes from his Netflix series and The Defenders, but the character is actually pretty damn cool. Originally introduced in 1974, Iron Fist is a clever twist on characters like Batman and Iron Man.
Danny Rand is more than just a rich, bachelor who happens to be the CEO of a major company, he's a martial arts expert and tapped into a spiritual force that grants him the mystical powers of the Iron Fist.
His solo series failed to include any entertaining fight scenes, but the character's various comic series include some pretty great choreography that shows off just how impressive the character's fighting skills are. Danny Rand is a card-carrying member of the Avengers and has even taken over the Daredevil mantle for a little bit in the comics.