While the world is too busy taking sides in the Marvel and DC tussle, Amazon has been laying low and making silent wins in adapting lesser-known comic books on to the big screen.
It’s rival Netflix has been trying to clench onto acclaimed Marvel TV shows like The Punisher, Jessica Jones only to end up losing to Disney+ who legally own booming franchises like Marvel and Star Wars.
Netflix foresaw this beforehand and released the Umbrella Academy by Dark Horse comics in an attempt to sway its Comics-loving viewers from DC-Marvel but it was easier said than done. It wanted its subscribers to move past mainstream comics and pounce on its original adaptation of a lesser-known comic world.
The result was— It was not received well. Netflix claims that over 45 million of its subscribers have tuned into The Umbrella Academy and those numbers are quite disputable. It’s most likely probable that those numbers are inflated.
Though Netflix pretended that it was doing great despite bleeding subscribers, inside its HQ, their execs were probably running in circles with no idea what they were gonna do about it. Introduce ads? that would piss off customers who feel entitled to ‘premium’ services. Increase its subscription rates? That’s a huge no-no as that would lead to them losing a huge chunk of subscribers. It makes no sense given the fact that it’s losing cult hit TV shows like The Office and Friends to their respective broadcasters to be streamed on their own Netflix-like services. In a nutshell, Netflix is no longer the lone wolf in the streaming game it was. It ruled the rooster for about decades, taking the way we consume entertainment by storm, but its time has come, unless it figures out how to deal with Independent streaming companies, all of which call themselves as the next ‘Netflix killer’.
But this article is neither about Netflix nor its killer.
This article is more about another unlikely player in the streaming war. It has silently been watching from the fences and is not talked about often. And that is: Amazon Prime Video.
It hopped on the Streaming bandwagon at just the right time. Launched in 2006 as Amazon Unbox in the US, its services grew over the years. They expanded their library and rebranded themselves as Prime Video. And in 2014, it was made available to Amazon Prime users in the UK, Germany, and Austria and subsequently launched in multiple countries.
Recently, Amazon Prime released a new series: The Boys on July 26, the screen adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s comic books of the same name, and in a short span, it was a fan-favorite among the viewers.
Unlike other superhero comics where with great power comes great responsibility, The Boys is set in a world where with great power, there is little to no responsibility. Superheroes are huge brand names with every inch of their lives being marketed, from starring in big movies to having a chain of soft-drinks. This way of things usually makes the superheroes irresponsible jerks who seldom care about goodwill or justice.
Moreover, the heroes are managed by a multibillion-dollar corporation, Vought International, that undertakes the branding and image of more than 200 superheroes, from scheduling their lives to choosing the right products for them to endorse. Their aim is simple: To invest in the superheroes and ensure the money keeps flowing in. So basically, we have a world where the heroes are entitled dicks.
It’s notable how Amazon has been able to move past the compulsion of adapting only stellar comic-book characters and showcase lesser-known titles. Instead of focusing on the ‘Brand name’, it’s more intent on coming up with a killer plot, a script that laces intricately with the story. In the case of The Boys, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as the executive producers, we are totally convinced that they would keep the show alive, deliver the kicks and always make us look forward to something unpredictable. From the show and their excellent track record, we know that they’ll deliver.
Another noteworthy and a Seriously underappreciated Series: Preacher. It was released by Amazon on May 2016 which was also adapted from a comic book series of the same name. Owned by DC Comics’ Vertigo Imprint, with Vertigo Imprint being the graphical and adult comic arm of the DC, the show has a cult following. It is yet another example of Amazon effectively executing a less familiar comic series on the bigger screen with an unconventional story-line and a solid cast. And guess the people behind the adaptation? The same sweet pair of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
The big picture is this: Netflix is struggling to keep its big Marvel shows from being swayed away by Disney+ on its streaming service, it’s trying to reinvent the wheel by spending big, albeit frivolously on shows like Umbrella Academy. Whereas its silent counterpart, Amazon is betting its money on stories rather than the comical brand value which offering something unique to the viewers.
We have reached a point where the hero coming in and saving the day has become too obvious. This overdose of good defeating evil has made us want something offbeat and something different. Light-hearted takes on the superhero genre like The Boys and the unconventional comic-style storytelling in Preacher remind us that comic book adaptations needn’t always be all about fire and fury.