Only a few years ago, the world of streaming was in a very different place than where it finds itself now. Netflix used to be the home of its own Marvel Cinematic Universe, with television shows for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage culminating into The Defenders miniseries. It was the streaming answer to bringing the comic book movie home. Looking back, Netflix and Marvel’s partnership acted much like an experiment for the pair to go their separate ways on streaming.
Since the cancellation of shows including Daredevil, Marvel’s presence on streaming looks like it will find a new and more permanent home on Disney+ with upcoming shows like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision and so forth, while its movies will remain big-budget tentpoles to be seen on the big screen.
As more of Netflix’s Marvel offerings decrease (such as Black Panther’s move to Disney+ earlier this year), it may feel like the streaming service is starting to lose out. But with an early look at Netflix’s recent move to produce comic book films, in addition to its many already successful and in-the-works properties, Netflix is carving out its own space in the genre, and it doesn’t need Marvel to make that happen. Let’s talk about it:
Extraction Just Broke This Massive Record For Netflix
Netflix just hit a record-breaking milestone with the release of Extraction. It quickly became the platform’s biggest movie premiere yet, with views from 90 million households about a week after its release. The movie produced by the Russo Brothers, directed by Avengers stuntman Sam Hargrave and starring Thor star Chris Hemsworth may not look like a comic book movie on its head, but it has all the DNA of one. Not only was it made by the filmmakers behind Avengers: Endgame, it is also based off a comic book called Cuidad that was co-written by the Russo Brothers.
Fans of the movie know it's based off a comic book because they rendered Ciudad sold out on Amazon a couple weeks after the release of Extraction. A sequel for Extraction is already in the works over at Netflix. The value of the comic book movie has just been validated for the studio, and Extraction was made on a reported production budget of $65 million. That’s about a third of what the typical comic book movie costs for Netflix’s biggest “opening” (so-to-say) yet.
Netflix Is Already Lining Up Deals With Comic Book Properties
In the near future, Netflix has another comic book adaptation coming to the platform with a similar formula at play. Charlize Theron is starring in The Old Guard, based on the Image Comics series of the same name. It looks to be another badass, relentless action flick starring a big name based off a lesser-known comic than what's in Marvel’s universe. Considering both Theron’s popularity and the hunger for original action movies, The Old Guard is pretty much a no-brainer big hit for Netflix. Comparable to Sandra Bullock’s turn to Netflix for Bird Box perhaps?
Behind the scenes, more people in the comic book world are signing deals with Netflix too. Mark Millar has a slew of television series in development based on his comic books, including Jupiter’s Legacy, Super Crooks, The Magic Order and American Jesus. Boom Studios is also collaborating with Netflix on television properties after signing a deal in April. With these deals in play and more success in the air, it’s easy to imagine Netflix ordering a combination of movies and TV shows on comic books in the coming years.
High-Profile Small Budget Films Is Where Netflix Thrives
The quiet genius of Netflix has become how many eyes it can put on small-budget projects that may not have been given the proper space to survive in theaters. A great example of this is through its revitalization of the rom-com genre through films such as To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. For a long time, the genre was all crickets in the mainstream. Netflix has found a massive audience making tons of rom-coms on a small budget – the All the Boys sequel was one of the most watched movies on the service last month.
This is where Netflix could start to squeeze in for comic book movies. If it is making a lot of movies based on smaller comic book titles, and audiences are digging them, the streaming service is in a good place. Not to mention there's the extra attention the comic book industry would be receiving on titles they don’t necessarily have access to before that. This gives comic book authors and publishers an added incentive to hand over the rights to their stories, with Netflix already building trust with Mark Millar and Image Comics’ finding a place on the platform.
Netflix Could Help Shake Up The Comic Book Movie Formula
As much as companies like Marvel and DC have tried to change things up in recent years as the demand for the comic book genre keeps going up, viewers love the genre, but are looking for something different out of it. This was made apparent through the record-breaking success of Joker, with the movie broke $1 billion and scoring several Oscars. Since Marvel is tied itself into the Disney interconnected universe, other studios have the opportunity to offer something different to audiences. DC is already going there with its coming film slate and television shows for HBO Max.
In the case of Netflix, audiences don’t have to go out and bet on a comic book property they have never heard of in order to watch it. The commitment is low on a Netflix movie, which is why smaller comic book movies such as Extraction and The Old Guard can thrive on streaming over going up against summer blockbusters. Netflix’s place in the comic book genre is still being settled in, but it looks like it’s going to be just fine without Marvel at its side.
Extraction is available to stream on Netflix now and The Old Guard drops on July 10. What do you think about the future of comic book movies on the streaming service? Sound off in the comments below.