Marvel’s Disney+ series Ironheart, a spin-off of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever centered on teenage genius Riri Williams, is in the works. While this may have been big news only a few years ago, Marvel fans are growing ever more jaded by the House of Mouse’s superhero onslaught. An alternative to the Marvel madness is Netflix’s Project Power, a film more ripe for a spin-off than the tired Marvel franchise.
Netflix’s underrated Project Power introduces viewers to a world that feels different and new, while Ironheart sounds like it’s going over well-trodden ground.
Project Power stars Jamie Foxx, Dominique Fishback, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a superhero thriller with a twist. Set in New Orleans, the film takes place in a world where a street drug called Power circulates on the streets. The high of power is like none other; it grants the user five minutes of superpowers.
The catch: you don’t know which power you will get until you take it.
Dominique Fishback gives a breakout performance as Robin, a low-level drug dealer peddling Power. Her world gets flipped when she is abducted by Art, a vigilante played by Jamie Foxx, who is on a warpath to find the source of Power. The duo encounters Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Frank, a police officer who takes Power to stop the criminals who use it.
Project Power ignites when these three morally dubious characters intersect in a web of conspiracy and explosive action. This Netflix original film is full of dazzling effects and a trifecta of great performances from its principal cast.
A Project Power spin-off could follow any of the three leads from the film, each walking a different path, while Ironheart will be compared to Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Best of all, Project Power is an original concept. Written by Mattson Tomlin (one of the scribes working on The Batman Part II), the film is a superpowered concept that stands apart from established franchises. With that freedom, Project Power has a unique style and tone that deserves further exploration, far more than another reheat of Marvel leftovers.
Reviews from critics and audiences for Project Power were middling; most criticized the screenplay but praised the world, concept, style, and characters. Those are exactly the elements that can be expanded upon in a spin-off.
A follow-up could take several forms. First, a return for Dominique Fishback could explore Robin’s life after she leaves the drug world behind – though it may not leave her quite so readily. Fishback’s star-making performance in Project Power would make a continuation for her character an appealing route.
Next, a Project Power spin-off could easily follow Joseph Gordon-Levitt through the fallout of exposing the drug conspiracy to the press. Such a move would put a target on his back. Watching two hours of JGL outmaneuvering a steady stream of superpowered assassins sounds like a heck of a way to spend a Saturday night.
Finally, a spin-off with Jamie Foxx’s character and his daughter, whose natural superpowers serve as the source of Power, could be extremely exciting. Similar to Logan or Midnight Special, the film could feature Art on the run with his daughter as he fights to protect her from pursuant forces still seeking to exploit her and revamp Project Power.
The premise and characters of Project Power are full of untapped potential. Meanwhile, Marvel’s well seems to be running dry. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was generally well-received; the film served as a beautiful tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, introduced a compelling antagonist in Namor, and delivered an unexpected and emotional arc for its protagonist, Shuri.
The premise and characters of Project Power are full of untapped potential. Meanwhile, Marvel’s well seems to be running dry.
Ironheart’s role in the film is not bad, but the character does feel like an obvious attempt to keep the Iron Man magic alive after the departure of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The Ironheart series may be great, but it cannot be nearly as fresh as Project Power. And if Secret Invasion is any indication of Marvel’s current trajectory, it may be best to keep expectations low.
Ironheart wrapped filming late last year, but the series has been held up in post-production due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, as well as Marvel’s decision to reevaluate its content release schedule. The show has been indefinitely pushed from its 2023 release date and will likely debut next year.
Project Power holds much promise for a superpowered franchise alternative to Marvel and DC. As everyone’s favorite superheroes seem to be overstaying their on-screen welcome, a spin-off of Netflix’s Project Power may just save the day.