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Next month, Marvel kicks off their Netflix programming with Daredevil, which follows the titular hero Matt Murdock using his enhanced senses to fight crime in Hell’s Kitchen. There’s no word yet on Season 2, but the Daredevil fun won’t be gone once you’re finished binge-watching Season 1. Fans will also be able to find new merchandise featuring The Man Without Fear and his fellow Netflix heroes, and it won’t be the kiddie stuff you find at toy shops and department stores. No, this will be a much different marketing strategy than the one adapted for the MCU blockbuster movies.
Variety reports that Marvel is developing a smaller line of products for its Netflix shows, starting with Daredevil. Because these shows are aimed at an older and more mature audience, the merchandise released will reflect their edgier tones and won't be targeted at younger fans, according to Disney Consumer Products’ Senior VP of Marvel Licensing Paul Gitter.
Instead, this line will be geared more towards teen and adult fans through products being released at stores and outlets like Hot Topic. Each show - including A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and the Defenders miniseries - will be supported under the Marvel Knights merchandise program. Licensers evidently weren’t worried about entering into deals with the company primarily because of Marvel’s successes and solid reputation, with Gitter saying that the partners look at Marvel’s history as being “reflective of the future.”
Although the Netflix series do take place in the MCU, they have repeatedly been mentioned as being separate from the events involving the Avengers and more grandiose elements of this fictional universe. Instead, the protagonists are the leads of darker stories that see them combating street crime and down-to-earth threats. Daredevil earned a TV-MA rating for its first season, which gives an idea of the amount of violence fans can expect.
By creating a more focused product line, Marvel is showing they understand that Daredevil can’t be marketed the same way as movies like The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead, they are dedicating attention to giving teens and adults more specialized products while also cementing how gritty this corner of the MCU will be. It probably wouldn’t look good if kids were playing with Daredevil toys, wearing Daredevil backpacks and playing with other assorted Daredevil items when this is a series that will include material equivalent to what would be found in an R-rated movie.
Releasing merchandise for the Netflix shows is one of the many ways Marvel is adjusting their marketing strategy. It was also reported that for the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the company is branching into the “food and packaged goods” to appeal to a larger female demographic that might not be as familiar with comic book media. Between the large approach with their movies and the limited approach with Daredevil and the other Netflix shows, it looks like Marvel has all their bases covered.
Daredevil Season 1 will be released on Netflix on Friday, April 10.