By Jack Rico
Netflix is on a major roll when it comes to original series. From ‘House Of Cards’ to ‘Daredevil’ to ‘Master Of None,’ Netflix original programming has stretched out across all genres, roping in a huge variety of fans and earning endless critical acclaim. We’ve even reached the point at which critical response doesn’t seem to matter much to audiences. The recently uploaded Will Arnett series was trashed by the critics aggregated at Rotten Tomatoes, and yet the same site shows that 81% of viewers enjoyed watching. That’s indicative of where Netflix is right now. People are enjoying their series no matter what.
That makes one wonder where Netflix could go from here, and it seems the answer is simple: anywhere they want. But the most interesting thing might be seeing them work with a few characters and popular stories that haven’t worked particularly well in the format of an ordinary film, as they’ve done with characters like Daredevil and Elektra. Along those lines, here are a few intriguing suggestions. Let’s hope the folks at Netflix are reading.
Judge Dredd is one of the most popular comic characters who isn’t associated with Marvel or DC. Sort of a cross between a more rugged Iron Man and Robocop, he tends to be associated with dark, dreary, and violent settings like those that were popular in late-’90s and early-’00s action films (think ‘Underworld’ and ‘The Matrix’). And the thing is, those movies have pretty big followings. A 2012 ‘Dredd’ film actually seemed to be pretty popular with many critics and fans, though it ultimately failed to recoup its production budget.
This is simply a popular character that seems bound to do well in the right format. People still read the Dredd comics; there are popular Dredd video games online and most notably in the form of ‘Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death,’ which you can download on Steam; and there’s been a fan petition circulating for a few years now to get a sequel to the 2012 film made. That petition hasn’t gained much ground, though evidently I’m not the only one to have the Netflix idea. According to Latino Review, the petition’s shift in focus toward Netflix or Amazon for a series is getting a little more attention.
The Three Musketeers
One of the most popular adventure novels in human history just can’t seem to get it right with cinematic adaptations. The 1993 Disney film was actually a fun watch and had an interesting cast including Charlie Sheen, Oliver Platt, and Kiefer Sutherland. But it wasn’t the kind of adult version of the story that many fans might have hoped for (and would be even likelier to hope for in today’s more violent, unrestrained cinema culture). Meanwhile, 2001’s ‘The Musketeer’ and 2011’s ‘The Three Musketeers’ were both disasters. One review even called the latter “a befouling of Dumas,” referencing the author of the novel.
Like Dredd, however, the Musketeers remain popular. Despite cinematic failure, they still have an online gaming presence as well, indicating fans are still interested. The Gala Bingo site, known for various VIP offerings that attract new players, also makes a point of designing gaming themes based on popular fiction, comic books, film and TV. And even now, five years after a horrific Musketeers movie, there’s a Three Musketeers game featured. Throw in the fact that schools all over the U.S. still put the book on reading lists and it’s likely there are still droves of fans who would tune into an original series. A Netflix series could take the time to develop the characters more than any film has been able to.
Persia vs. Greece
Most people know that the popular comic adaptation ‘300’ was actually based on real historical events. Naturally, the details were drastically altered and exaggerated, resulting in what was at the time one of the most inventive action films we’d seen. But we do know that a massive Persian army swept into the Greek city-states and was unexpectedly held up by a far smaller force of Spartan warriors at Thermoylae. What many may not realize, however, is that the disastrous follow-up to ‘300’—’300: Rise Of An Empire’—was also based on a real historical battle that was part of the same Persian invasion.
The trouble is that the second film was horrible, likely ruining any chance there was of a drawn-out series of Persia vs. Greece films. Indeed, the best thing about the second film was the accompanying app game, and even that wasn’t very good. There’s absolutely no reason to continue with these films on the big screen. But on Netflix? The popularity of Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas probably can’t ever be duplicated, and that’s a handicap. However, if some ambitious director were to take on the whole invasion of Greece in a multi-season adventure chronicling the different battles that took place, Netflix could be onto something big. People would tune in to watch the 300 again.
Of these ideas, a Dredd series seems most likely. But any one of them could easily be the next big hit for Netflix.