The Marvel Cinematic Universe officially kicked off in 2008, but Marvel Studios' massive franchise expanded beyond films and into television with the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC in 2013. The TV side of the MCU has since expanded to include a universe-within-a-universe on Netflix. Established with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, The Defenders universe takes place primarily in New York City and includes Luke Cage and Iron Fist - as well as the Punisher spinoff announced earlier this year.
However, with the cancellation of Agent Carter and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel's Most Wanted officially not moving ahead at ABC, it remains to be seen exactly whether and how Marvel TV will continue to expand. Certainly, the studio has the Cloak and Dagger series in development and now it seems another Marvel-based show is in the works at a premium cable network.
Deadline is reporting that co-creator of the Jessica Jones character, Brian Michael Bendis, spoke about a new series in development at Marvel TV based on his character Scarlet while at the ATX Television Festival. He said:
“I do a book called Scarlet which is soon to be announced also in our universe of television. Not announced yet, but HBO.”
According to Bendis, the project is "at the earliest stage" but "the team around it…will be announced as soon as all are on the same page." Additionally, though Bendis mentioned Scarlet is in the works at HBO, Deadline confirmed the project is actually in development at fellow Time Warner network Cinemax.
Scarlet was co-created by Bendis along with artist Alex Maleev and has been published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint since 2010. The series - currently consisting of only eight issues - follows Portland, Oregon, resident Scarlet Rue who rebels against her corrupt government and sparks a second American revolution. Of course, if Scarlet does make it to series and it's included in the MCU, it's unlikely the American revolution aspect of the source material will be included in the show - though having Scarlet focused on the city of Portland, just as The Defenders do on New York City, would be one way to adapt the comic.
Speaking about the Scarlet book series, Bendis said,
“Scarlet is a list of things you can’t get made. Here’s a female lead who’s killing cops because her world is broken. [But] when it was sold, it was sold to people who were actively looking for that, so that put us in a good place. So stay tuned.”
Additionally, the violent tone of Scarlet has been likened to The Punisher and the series' first issue began with a fourth wall-breaking introduction by the comic's protagonist, which may remind fans of Deadpool's tendency to speak to his audience.
Certainly, given Netflix's increasingly gritty and violent Defenders universe, along with the massive popularity and financial success of 20th Century Fox's R-rated Deadpool film, now may be the perfect time to adapt a comic like Scarlet. Though it may be difficult to imagine the character of Scarlet existing in the same universe as Captain America (Chris Evans), she may be right at home alongside Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal).
However, as we've seen in recent months, television may be reaching a point of over-saturation in terms of comic book series. While ABC had a number of Marvel Comics series in development, none will be moving forward - added to the fact that the network axed Agent Carter. Plus, TNT passed on their in-the-works Teen Titans series due in part to the number of superhero properties on television already.
That being said, though, there does still seem to be room on TV for compelling stories, that also happen to be adapted from comic books. Recently, AMC debuted Preacher to plenty of critical acclaim, and Cinemax entered the foray with Outcast, an adaptation of the comic by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. So, although it remains to be seen whether Bendis' Scarlet television adaptation moves forward at Cinemax, it could certainly find its place among the growing number of superhero properties on the small screen.
We’ll keep you updated on Scarlet as more information becomes available.