Coming as no surprise, Netflix announced yesterday that the last two of its Marvel Universe shows The Punisher (which had its second season debut in January) and Jessica Jones (which will stream later in the year) have been cancelled. This follows in the wake of last year’s cancellations of Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, and after those were dropped by the streamer it was pretty much assumed the the remaining two Marvel shows would be ending as well. When Daredevil first debuted on Netflix in 2015, it seemed like the Marvel / Netflix partnership would have a bright future with the four main shows–DD, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist–scheduled to crossover in The Defenders team-up show and The Punisher eventually spinning off from Daredevil. But Disney (which owns Marvel) starting developing its own streaming service with plans to eventually move all the Marvel Universe movies to that platform as well as the majority of the original content from the House of Mouse. Thus the partnership became strained as Netflix and Disney are now on track to become rivals in the streaming business. In addition, the licensing fee to Netflix for the Marvel shows is high, and the streamer decided to focus on original content that it owns rather that paying exorbitant fees to another company.
Sadly, the viewers are the losers in this game of corporate politics, because even though the shows had seen a decline in viewership they still had a strong following. But there is hope as Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb–putting most of the blame on Netflix for ending the partnership–had this to say about the future of these now-orphaned shows:
Our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters… but you know Marvel better than that. As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, “The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up.”
The chances of the shows moving to the new Disney+ streaming service are slim considering they would not fit will with the more family friendly tone of that service due to their R-Rated nature. But there is another option. Disney has an ownership stake in Hulu and will actually become the majority partner when its buyout of FOX’s movie and TV properties is completed. There are already plans for several adult-animated Marvel series on that service which will include Howard the Duck and Tigra & Dazzler and will culminate in a team-up series to be titled The Offenders. That’s a very similar arrangement to how the Marvel shows started out on Netflix, and Hulu’s boss has already indicated an interest in picking up the shows that Netflix has cancelled. It will be a while before that happens because Netflix retains the rights to the shows for two years after they have ended. But it is possible that by late 2020 we could see Daredevil and some (if not all) of the other shows make the switch to Hulu.
Currently, there is a very active campaign lobbying for a fourth season of Daredevil and it has recently shifted much of its focus on Hulu due to recent developments. Fans should definitely put as much support as possible into that to convince the network execs (at Disney, Hulu, and wherever) that there is still plenty of interest in these shows and a desire to see them back in production as soon as possible.
As we head into the final months of the regular season, expect more renewal and cancellation announcements. Be sure to stay tuned to this site and the Cancelled Sci Fi Twitter Site for breaking news as well as the latest ratings results.