Before The Avengers, there was Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger - four movies that introduced characters with very different origin stories and put them in the same world before they teamed up. The unprecedented model set a new (and very lucrative) trend in Hollywood that all studios are aiming to capitalize on going forward, and now, Marvel TV is attempting to do the same on the small screen.
Earlier this month Netflix subscribers met Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) in a 13-episode series that introduced a new version of the Marvel Comics vigilante known as Daredevil in a small corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Daredevil is just the beginning however, and before it even entered production Marvel TV planned out four separate series based on four separate characters that would lead to - you guessed it - a team-up project dubbed The Defenders.
These ground level heroes of Hell's Kitchen, New York, are essentially the TV version of The Avengers, except they are joining in on and benefiting from one of the biggest and most merchandised entertainment brands in the world since the franchise is already well-established. And better yet, these Netflix heroes will very likely pop up in the movies down the road as well.
We've already met the first of the four in Mr. Murdock, and two of the others have been cast already: Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. That leaves just one hero left, Iron Fist, and we may already have found out who could be in the running thanks to this morning's episode of The Howard Stern Show where Ryan Phillippe dropped the following:
"Marvel is interested in talking about Netflix, a series possibly. The Daredevil series is great, right?"
The topic of TV and movie offers came up in response to a conversation about Phillippe's current work on ABC's Secrets and Lies, and with Iron Fist casting expected to occur in the near future, he's the obvious first guess. It's hard to believe the star of Crash, Stop-Loss and The Lincoln Lawyer turns 41 this year. He looks 10 years younger and has the appearance of Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist from the comics.
The timing of Phillippe namedropping Marvel and Netflix couldn't be more precise, given that this week might be the peak of Marvel live-action news buzz for the year. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is rolling towards its finale after last night's episode setup the prologue of Avengers: Age of Ultron - Marvel Studios' biggest project to date which opens domestically this week. And the studio just officially locked down writers and directors for The Avengers 3 & 4 (Infinity War) while Daredevil is riding high off of a successful debut on Netflix earlier this month that led to a second season already being greenlit. Do we need to even mention that Marvel is about to cast Spider-Man; that its TV division is planning an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series, or that Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) might appear in Iron Fist?
It's also of course possible Phillippe is in talks to play a key supporting character or villain but we'll wait until we learn more before delving that deep into speculation. Is Ryan Phillippe a good choice to play Iron Fist?
Daredevil is currently available on Netflix. AKA Jessica Jones releases this fall followed by Luke Cage and Daredevil season 2 in 2016.