Originally Posted by H.U.S.T.L.E.
As many others have said, I think a Marvel Knights imprint would be an ideal way to introduce some of these street-level characters into the current MCU. I also agree with others that a TV series might be the best way to do it - in fact, I'd combine the two ideas and here's what I mean by saying that:
With the grittier nature of characters like Punisher, Daredevil, etc, an HBO series would be a great place for that. I think you could have a Marvel Knights show with each season based on one story arc for an individual character... say 12 episodes per season. I think the majority of fans just want to see the characters done well on the screen in some form or another, so why not give them something a little different than the blockbuster films we've seen so far? In my opinion, the ultimate goal of Marvel Studios shouldn't strictly be feature-film products (and we're already seeing that with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. picked up by ABC). This would give them the opportunity to branch out and expand into entirely new audiences with more mature content.
I also think that by basically making each character a mini-series there are some interesting storytelling options. For instance, instead of the token origin story film we've seen for other Marvel characters recently, you can show pieces of that throughout the episodes via brief flashbacks. That way you understand each character's motivations without spending lots of time setting up the origin & instead jump straight to a story arc for the season.
Then as each season comes to a close, you find a way to set up the next featured character. So say Season 1 is based around Punisher - at the end of the finale you have Frank Castle arrested for his vigilante justice, but in the final moments you see him outside a courtroom having been acquitted. He mutters something like, "Thanks Murdock" and walks away, while the final visual of the season sets up a Daredevil arc for Season 2. Similarly, you could introduce a character like Elektra to set up Season 3.
Now, in regards to Ghost Rider - while I understand the problems of bringing the character to life on TV, I don't think it's impossible. Most of the issues would stem around production costs/effects budgeting... with that being said, we've seen the success of Game of Thrones which comes with high production costs & visual effects budgets. So I think that if Ghost Rider were to happen on TV, you could build to it through a show like Marvel Knights. If the series were to garner success in earlier seasons, it might sway the studios to ramp up the budget if it meant introducing characters that could then be parlayed into feature-film appearances (but not necessarily stand-alone pictures, but something like The Avengers).
I'd be interested to hear comments/thoughts about such a scenario - I know it's a long-winded post, so props if you made it this far!
I had kind of a similar post (I think in the Daredevil thread) proposing a 3rd annual MCU movie which is lower budget and simply named 'Marvel Knights', and a sequel every year. But a cable show works even better.
One tweak is that I wouldn't center an entire season around a single character. I would instead follow the template laid down by Game of Thrones with multiple intersecting and divergent story arcs.
Does Disney own a cable channel? I remember reading somewhere that Disney had a stake in A&E. However, if I recall correctly from about a year back, when I lived in NY, A&E primarily focused on reality television. So I'm not too sure if a 'Marvel Knights' show would fit.