No one can deny just how crazy and ground-breaking the MCU movies have been. You love them, I love them, everyone loves them. That universe is a feat of filmmaking to marvel at.
But personally, I have found myself getting more miles out of the Netflix series. I'm not saying they're better (they're not), I'm just saying that I get more enjoyment out of them. Maybe it has something to do with how I watch movies versus how I watch tv. Maybe it’s the binge factor. Maybe it’s the more personal and slow-burn stories. I don’t know.
The news of Netflix canceling both Iron Fist and Luke Cage was very disappointing. Some say it has to do with Disney starting their own streaming service, and their desire to remove Marvel properties from other services. Some speculate that the two titular characters can still live on in the other existing Netflix series. I would also add to the speculation that both series could be saved by a Heroes for Hire crossover show.
But back to the point. I just find the Netflix series more enjoyable, for some reason. I was wondering why, and then I realized that I have probably spent more time immersed in the Netflix series than the movies. More time with the characters, and therefore more time to get invested.
We like to think of the MCU movies as this huge saga which takes days to watch. Like some gargantuan near-bottomless well of media. Well as it turns out, when it comes to actual runtime, the Netflix series blow the movies out of the water.
As of October 2018:
Number of MCU Movies: 20 (Phases 1, 2; 80% of Phase 3)
Number of Netflix Series Episodes: 134 (11 seasons across 6 series)
Runtime of MCU Movies: 42 hours, 56 minutes
Runtime of Netflix Series: 119 hours, 11 minutes
Difference of Runtime: 76 hours, 15 minutes
The Netflix series are longer in total runtime by over three days. That’s a lot of time! In the time it would take you to watch all the Netflix series, you could watch all the MCU movies over two and a half times.
I think this is why I like the shows better than the movies. Maybe I’m more of a long-form person than a short-form person. I mean, I love movies. Like, a lot. But television—especially internet-based platforms— benefit from being less constrained by time and content, and are able to produce a more intimate and detailed story than movies are able to. The MCU movies are these great, vast stories defined by fantastic moments and huge moving pieces. Undeniably fun and enjoyable, for sure. But in contrast the series are these smaller-scale stories taking place mostly in one city, more gradually, and with more focus on the process. Which is probably why I was looking forward to The Defenders as much (or more) than any Avengers movie. There was a lot more fabric to weave together.
So, I think that’s the crux of it. It really is a tale of two mediums. Admittedly though, the Netflix shows have had way more low points than the movies. Luke Cage Season 1 was a tad lackluster, and Iron Fist Season 1 was actually pretty bad. But both shows greatly improved in their second seasons. And other than those two cases the other shows have been fairly decent, with Daredevil and Jessica Jones being especially good. I really hope they all continue. The third season of Daredevil did really well, and there’s another season of both Jessica Jones and Punisher on the way. Unfortunately, beyond that, it appears that the whole universe is in jeopardy.
If you’re thinking of getting into the Netflix Marvel series, check out my suggested watch order (which is the same as the release order, as of October 2018):
1. Daredevil Season 1
2. Jessica Jones Season 1
3. Daredevil Season 2
4. Luke Cage Season 1
5. Iron Fist Season 1
6. The Defenders
7. The Punisher Season 1
8. Jessica Jones Season 2
9. Luke Cage Season 2
10. Iron Fist Season 2
11. Daredevil Season 3