Marvel and Disney are not messing around when it comes to their four upcoming TV shows and one miniseries headed to Netflix, loosely known as the “Marvel Defenders project.” The five properties together will break down into 60 episodes, costing an impressive $200 million, according to Variety.
The $200 million will be spent over three years, and go towards filming series based on the characters of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Those properties will then culminate in the miniseries, The Defenders. The majority of filming will take place in New York City, and the deal marks the biggest commitment from a TV or film project in the history of the state of New York.
In the comics, all four of the characters are based to some degree in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, also known as Clinton. Despite the odd costumed supervillain and the superpowers each character possesses, the four are generally considered to be more grounded in reality than most superheroes. Despite his superhuman senses, Daredevil is just a man with a day job. Luke Cage and Iron Fist were linked together for years under the title “Heroes for Hire,” through which they helped people on the side while working as private investigators. Jessica Jones was most recently reborn as a fairly average PI as well. Their powers lean toward the fantastic, but their stories exist in a reality most people can relate to.
According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, it was important for the shows to feel “authentic,” which is part of the reason for the decision to film in New York City. The $4 million in tax credits probably helped as well.
The way it breaks down is that Marvel and Disney are planning to spread that $200 million over 60, one-hour episodes, to be filmed over the next three years. Each of the full series will feature a 13-episode season, and all four will then culminate in The Defenders miniseries. Marvel has previously stated that the miniseries would be between four and eight episodes. With the four 13-episode series planning on 52 episodes in total and the deal with New York being for 60 episodes, it looks like Marvel is leaning towards the longer option (although that could always change).
Assuming the budget is spread between the five series equally (although it would make sense to spend a little more on The Defenders miniseries), each episode will feature a budget of roughly $3.3 million. That doesn’t come close to touching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ridiculous budget of $14 million for the pilot alone, but it is in keeping up with several other, high-quality shows.
Netflix’s House of Cards reportedly cost $100 million for two seasons, which averages out to just over $3.8 million per episode. AMC’s powerhouse Mad Men costs around $2.5 mil per episode, while The Walking Dead costs $2.75 million per show. The Disney deal will put the upcoming projects on the same footing.
Marvel and Disney have both remained fairly quiet about the upcoming projects, but Drew Goddard is set as the executive producer and showrunner for Daredevil, which is set for a 2015 debut, making it the first of the four shows to be released. The other projects do not yet have dates or showrunners, but with all production set to occur in the next three years, those announcements should be coming relatively soon.