Much was made of Netflix‘s collaboration with Marvel – a partnership that spawned Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Punisher and the inevitable team-up mini-series known as The Defenders. The shows were largely met with a positive reaction and even Iron Fist, whose first run got off to a wobbly start, has seen better ratings and reviews since the debut of its second season last month. However the news has been mixed this October. Daredevil is back for a third season, but in the last week alone, Netflix has also announced that Iron Fist will not be back for a third run and now we know that Luke Cage will also not be returning for a third solo run either.
It’s an interesting development which has led many to speculate on the future of this corner of Marvel‘s empire. Certainly, the Marvel Universe is now spreading its wings and options across multiple platforms, beyond its high-profile cinematic endevours. On ABC‘s network we’ve had Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (due back for a shorter summer run in 2019), Agent Carter (cancelled after two very popular seasons) and The Inhumans (cancelled after one not-well-received run). On hulu, there’s The Runaways (renewed for an imminent second run), on freeform there’s Cloak and Dagger (also now renewed). The Gifted, using a raft of secondary X-Men characters, is currently showing on FOX. FX has the off-beat Legion, which name-checks other Marvel characters but seems to have its own continuity, perhaps slightly in parallel with the FOX side of things. Excepting the FOX part of the equation – so far – Marvel‘s continuity suggests a majority of these characters inhabit different parts of a shared, but very loosely connected universe.
There’s also been the announcement of mini-series for both Loki and The Scarlet Witch (with Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen reprising their big-screen roles) on the Disney subscription platform – an indicator that Marvel Comics‘ parent company might want to start bringing in its on-screen properties closer to home and to bolster its own platforms. That could mean that the current season of Daredevil, the third season of Jessica Jones and the second season of The Punisher – showing over the next year or so – may be a watershed in a changing time for the industry.
Netflix has no apparent plans for a second run of The Defenders, but on the flipside, some have speculated that there’s still enough interest in Iron Fist and Luke Cage for Netflix to consider teaming them up, echoing their successful comic series run as the ‘Heroes for Hire ‘.