When Netflix landed the Defenders TV package from Marvel in 2013, it was a big deal. Now, almost six years later, it’s not as attractive. The shows have been hit and miss and the Marvel brand isn’t as strong as it once was. Sure, any movie that starts with the Marvel fanfare will make a billion dollars but there’s an overload of TV shows. Has anyone even watched Cloak and Dagger? Getting the Marvel characters they don’t want to do a movie about aren’t such a big draw when every channel has a Marvel show, and that has to be a big part of why Netflix announced today they’ve cancelled their flagship Marvel show, Daredevil, after cancelling Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Defenders earlier this year.
Here’s what Netflix told Deadline.
“Marvel’s Daredevil will not return for a fourth season on Netflix,” the streamer said in a statement tonight to Deadline. “We are tremendously proud of the show’s last and final season and although it’s painful for the fans, we feel it best to close this chapter on a high note.””We’re thankful to our partners at Marvel, showrunner Erik Oleson, the show’s writers, stellar crew and incredible cast including Charlie Cox as Daredevil himself, and we’re grateful to the fans who have supported the show over the years,” Netflix added just a month after the third season of the series launched on the service.
Disney+ was probably the final nail in the coffin for the Netflix Marvel franchise, though not in the way people original predicted. Netflix will retain the broadcast rights to these shows basically until they sell them, Marvel was never going to be able to pull them off of Netflix and put them on Disney+. But when Marvel is doing shows about characters from the movies like Loki and Scarlet Witch, The Defenders aren’t the draw they once were.
These shows have had issues from day two. Day one was the first season of Daredevil and it was amazing. Every other show was something of a disappointment, even the mostly excellent first season of Jessica Jones. Thirteen episodes was obviously too long, which is why Jessica Jones and her merry band of misfits captured Kilgrave twice only for him to escape twice over the course of the season.
Daredevil was easily the best of the Marvel Netflix shows, so I don’t think there’s much chance of Jessica Jones and The Punisher continuing past the seasons that are currently in production. But they did say Daredevil “will live on in future projects for Marvel,” which could mean any number of things. Maybe Netflix is planning a send-off project for its Hell’s Kitchen universe. Maybe Darevdevil could show up in one of the Marvel films. Daredevil has a history with Spider-Man, maybe they’ll be partners in a future movie.
Whatever happens, this is clearly the end of an era. If Netflix was only going to keep producing one Marvel show, this is the one it would have been. The announcements that Jessica Jones and The Punisher are getting cancelled will feel almost perfunctory after this. The Marvel deal might have been the thing that legitimized Netflix as a producer of original content, but now they produce more television than all the broadcast networks combined, and they’ve clearly moved beyond Marvel.