What Is Going On With Marvel And Netflix?

As you might have heard in the past two weeks, Netflix has cancelled two of their Marvel Cinematic Universe set TV series, Marvel’s Iron Fist and Marvel’s Luke Cage. Not to mention that Marvel’s The Defenders is still in limbo. There has since been a lot of talk about potential revivals on Disney owned platforms, new series starring the characters, and so on. What is plausible? What is unlikely? How did we even get here?

Why are Iron Fist and Luke Cage cancelled?

This is a good place to start. Why are Marvel’s Iron Fist and Marvel’s Luke Cage cancelled in the first place? Netflix does not release any data on viewing figures, but we can assume that just like with traditional broadcasters they make their renewal and cancellation decisions based on viewing figures. Next to some critical influence, of course. Why would you cancel an award contender, which gives you good press, unless absolutely no-one watches it? There is one big difference between traditional broadcasters and streaming services like Netflix, though. Traditional broadcasters make an educated guess, using, for example, Nielsen’s “Set Meters” in the US to determine how many people in what demographics have been watching what and when. Streaming services know the exact amount of viewers who have been watching what and for how long. It is like the view counter under a YouTube video for them. Keeping that in mind it is possible that these series just did not get enough viewers to justify their budget. What also does not help is the critical slamming Iron Fist got. Luke Cage meanwhile might have been the victim of behind-the-scenes problems. With Deadline reporting that scripts for Season 3 were sent back to the drawing board and other creative disagreements.

Will characters of Iron Fist and Luke Cage and their story move to other series?

It is very much possible that characters from Marvel’s Iron Fist and Marvel’s Luke Cage guest star in the remaining Marvel series on Netflix, which are Marvel’s Daredevil, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and Marvel’s The Punisher. However, with Daredevil Season 3 just being released, The Punisher Season 2 having wrapped filming, and Jessica Jones Season 3 in the middle of production, it is impossible to have these series pick up story threads from Iron Fist or Luke Cage in their current seasons. Those stories have been written and are hard to change so late in the game. It is possible that if those series mentioned are renewed they do pick up those story threads up later on. The final episode of Iron Fist did hint at characters of that series moving to the now-defunct Luke Cage Season 3, so why not move to yet another series?

Are Iron Fist and Luke Cage cancelled because of the upcoming Disney Play service, and might they be revived there?

Right after Marvel’s Iron Fist and Marvel’s Luke Cage were cancelled rumours started doing the rounds that these series were being cancelled because Marvel owner The Walt Disney Company have their own streaming service coming up, called Disney Play. It is not weird people think this, Disney are pulling movies and TV series they own away from Netflix because of their upcoming streaming service. However, Disney and Marvel have a standing contract with Netflix for these Marvel TV series. The made seasons will remain on Netflix for the foreseeable future. Netflix did put a good chunk of money in them after all. But even if Disney and Marvel pull these series away they probably will not end up on Disney Play. Reliable industry news sources like Variety have been saying that R rated movies and TV-MA-rated TV series, to keep with US rating designations, would move to Hulu. With Disney’s practically done acquisition of 21st Century Fox properties, they will become a majority shareholder in Hulu, currently the home of Marvel’s Runaways. Going with this, it would mean that the mature Marvel series now on Netflix or even new ones would move to Hulu and not Disney Play. At least, in the US. Internationally it is a whole different and more foggy ballgame. Just look at the international deals CBS All Access and DC Universe have made with their competitor in the US Netflix for Star Trek: Discovery and Titans respectively.

Even considering that Hulu could be a home for mature Marvel series it is unlikely that Iron Fist or Luke Cage would be resurrected on a Disney owned platform. Disney and Marvel also did not step in to save Marvel’s Agent Carter or Marvel’s Inhumans. It is, however, possible that the characters from these series would return in a new series, like for example a “Heroes For Hire” adaption. It depends on what the contracts between Netflix and Marvel are like, but it is unlikely Netflix hold character rights like Sony Picture holds Spider-Man’s character rights. It is also even possible that with the cancellation of the TV series these characters are freed up for the MCU movies, but that is probably a fever dream.

What about Marvel’s The Defenders?

Since its first season of eight episodes, Marvel’s The Defenders has been in a state of limbo. A second season is not in development that we know of, but it is also not officially cancelled. Will the crossover series return? In short, no. The signs are not looking favourable. A new season could be a way to continue the stories of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, but there is evidence this will not happen. Recently, in a curious move by Netflix, the Facebook page of The Defenders was basically cannibalised. What does that mean? Well, all The Defenders material was stripped off the page. In its place now is “NX,” Netflix’s new “all things geeky” brand. Where once was The Defenders material now is promo material of a kind of genre programming Netflix is releasing. Again, this is a really weird move. Normally something new like this just gets a new page and does not replace an already existing one. It also is a bit nasty way to immediately get a lot of likes. It also needs to be said that only the Facebook page has suffered this fate. Other social media channels, like Twitter, are still around for The Defenders. It however signposts that the series is done.


Hopefully, we’ve been able to illuminate the current state of Marvel series on Netflix, as far as we know. If you do have a question not answered by this article, please leave a message below.