Marvel made some huge announcements for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and beyond at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, and in doing so ensured it killed off the Netflix MCU for good. The big MCU reveals at SDCC included Natalie Portman returning for Thor 4 as a female Thor, Doctor Strange 2 featuring the multiverse and being a horror film, and Mahershala Ali being cast as the MCU's Blade.
It's the latter that represented Marvel's final reveal of its Comic-Con panel, but aside from being a major MCU bombshell in its own right - revealing a Blade movie is happening AND Ali is playing the Daywalker - it was also a final nail in the coffin for Netflix's MCU, because Ali has of course already appeared there in Luke Cage.
Ali played Cornell Stokes a.k.a. Cottonmouth in Luke Cage season 1, receiving great acclaim for his performance, with the show struggling in the wake of his sudden absence after its big mid-season twist. Luke Cage was scrapped last year as part of a move that saw Netflix cancel all of its Marvel shows: Iron Fist was first, and then one-by-one Daredevil, The Punisher, and Jessica Jones all followed. Still, there had been some slim hopes that Disney might step in to save the shows, either for Disney+ or Hulu, but the casting of Ali all but confirms that isn't going to happen. And not only that, but also the fact Marvel Studios really doesn't care about the Netflix MCU shows at all.
This isn't the first time an actor has been cast in both an MCU movie and a Netflix TV show: Alfre Woodard appeared in Captain America: Civil War as a grieving mother, but had also landed the part of Mariah Dillard in Luke Cage. That itself suggested at best a very loose connectivity between the two versions of MCU, and what's come since has done little to change that perception for the better. The MCU movies have completely ignored the Netflix series, and the references have been a one-way street. But Ali's casting is a much more direct and obvious dismissal of the Netflix shows' place in the MCU.
Cottonmouth wasn't just a one-scene character, but a major villain whose role was greatly celebrated. By completely ignoring that in order to cast him as Blade, it's Marvel Studios really showing just how little regard they have for the Netflix MCU series, and suggests that they perhaps shouldn't even be considered canon.
There's always been a divide between the big screen MCU and Marvel TV, and while that's changing with the upcoming Disney+ series, this highlights how Marvel don't care about it. Cottonmouth is dead, Luke Cage is over, and with Ali now set to play Blade (which is great casting) it'll be like the Netflix shows never existed in the MCU. Which, in a way, is how it's always been anyway.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020