By The Nerdling
Thanos’s snap had more of a reverberation than we ever anticipated. In a span of a week, Netflix cancelled two of its Marvel shows, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, leaving only two Defenders heroes still standing, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and the anti-hero series The Punisher. There is much speculation as to why Netflix has let the two series go. The answer seems to be a culmination of several things.
Failure Out of the Gate
Iron Fist was doomed on its first day. The Scott Buck (poster child for failing upwards) helmed first season was lauded by critics and fans alike. Danny Rand didn’t surpass his obnoxious, rich, white boy beginnings. It made rooting for him incredibly difficult despite Finn Jones doing his best to make the character charming. Action scenes were dull. The storyline with The Hand felt flat and the blandness bled into The Defenders. The only good thing to come from the series was Jessica Henwick’s portrayal of Colleen Wing.
The second season was much improved by the former Sleepy Hollow showrunner, Raven Metzner. The series benefited from a smaller 10-episode run verses the standard 13. But the series was still the inferior of the five Marvel/Netflix shows.
Trouble Behind the Scenes
Earlier this year, the writers room started to work on a third season of the critically acclaimed Luke Cage. Last month, Netflix and Marvel went into negotiations on shortening the series order from 13 to 10, like Iron Fist.
Scripts for the episodes were delivered to Netflix executives and they were not happy with what they were seeing. Issues between show runner Cheo Hodari Coker and Netflix executives devolved into “turmoil” leaving the execs to pull the plug as their only way out of the situation.
Price Tag is too High
Marvel shows are expensive to produce. While Luke Cage has received acclaim and awards attention, it doesn’t score as high in the ratings like Daredevil and The Punisher had. Iron Fist brings in even less viewers. Shortening the episode count from 13 to 10 seems like a good idea, especially from a storytelling aspect. But this actually losses Netflix money. They get paid by the episode.
Less Need for Big Name Properties
Netflix first signed on with Marvel and Disney for the rights to create a Defenders universe in 2013. The streaming service needed big-name properties to up their subscriber count. They had only started to released original content two years before and were gaining traction with audiences. Teaming up with Marvel and Disney, who practically have a license to print money, was a no brainer.
Fast forward to now, and Netflix is worth more than the House of Mouse thanks to original content and awards season buzz. Netflix doesn’t need Marvel as much as they did to garner subscriptions making it easier to trim series which underperform.
Disney Streaming Service
Seeing precious money going out the window to other VOD services in brokering streaming rights, Disney decided they are starting their own streaming service. The distribution deal with Netflix ends in 2019. Good news for the house Walt built, they will have access to their movies once again. Bad news for us plebeians who do not have the capital to buy into ANOTHER VOD SERVICE.
Disney needs content. They cut off access to any new characters from Netflix to use for their series. Netflix cannot use other comic book characters outside of their current access to help bolster viewership. Characters from Luke Cage and Iron Fist can crossover into the three remaining shows and just might in future seasons. Don’t hold your breath for a Heroes for Hire series.
Will there be More Cancellations?
Short answer, I don’t know. The three surviving series seem to be safe. For now. Season 2 of The Punisher has finished production, though a premiere date has not been announced. Jessica Jones season 3 is currently filming. Their fates will be decided after they premiere.
Daredevil seems to be good for the moment. Season 3 was released just this previous Friday to lots of viewers and high praise. Before the premiere, it was assumed the series was guaranteed a 4th season. Most insiders are sure Daredevil will have at least one more season, but after that is anyone’s guess.
It is frustrating to see the only two Marvel series with lots of PoC characters be cancelled. With Disney looking to up their own content for their streaming service, I can’t see these Defenders universe surviving for much longer. The shows can’t grow or branch out thanks to Disney restricting character usage. And the shows are only going to become more expensive to produce if Netflix wants to keep the quality high.
Enjoy the new episodes while we have them. Most likely we won’t be seeing much more of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.