Looks like fans are going to be waiting longer than they’d hoped for the live-action return of characters from the crop of canceled Marvel Netflix shows, such as Daredevil and The Punisher. It turns out that Disney won’t have access to them for quite some time. Previous reports indicated that the Marvel/Netflix deal precluded Disney from using the characters until 2020, but apparently viewers shouldn’t expect that year to yield the return of any member of The Defenders.
In an unprecedented move, Netflix and Marvel struck a deal in 2013 in which the steaming service would be developing live-action series for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. These four standalone shows would eventually culminate in a limited crossover event titled, The Defenders. Praised by critics and embraced by fans - to varying degrees, depending on the series - these shows continued even after the heroes’ initial team-up, with The Punisher spinning out of Daredevil. When Netflix canceled Iron Fist after season 2 last October, fans didn’t think too much of it. Although the show’s sophomore outing was a large improvement, it was still the weakest of the bunch. However, the critically acclaimed Luke Cage got the axe a week later. This led to speculation that there was a Heroes for Hire project in the works, but those hopes were quashed with the cancellation of flagship series Daredevil the next month. At that point, there was little doubt as to the fate of Jessica Jones and The Punisher. Netflix announced the end of both shows in February, although the former will still air its season 3.
Now, IndieWire reports that Disney is unable to use the characters until two years have passed since the cancellation of their Netflix shows. What this actually means, though, is that the company is unable to even attempt developing new content featuring any of these heroes until that time. So, if Disney does choose to reboot or revive them, it’s going to take a lot longer than fans had hoped. The Mouse House isn’t allowed to begin work on any of those potential projects until the two year mark has passed.
It’s unclear how exactly the relationship between Marvel and Netflix soured, although many believe that it has something to do with the imminent launch of Disney's own streaming service, Disney+. Although, the steady decline in viewership of the Marvel shows was likely a factor as well. With the Netflix corner of the MCU going dark, there was hope that the fan favorite heroes could eventually be resurrected in some form for Disney+. After all, the platform will be airing TV series centering on several Marvel characters. Vision and Scarlet Witch are starring in WandaVision, while the Falcon and the Winter Soldier are also teaming up for their own show. Loki will be getting the small screen treatment as well. If Disney chooses not to use the characters, Hulu has even thrown their hat in the ring, expressing interest in reviving the titles, which seems like a long shot.
While not every Marvel Netflix show was a bona fide success, the cancellation of Daredevil was particularly shocking after such a stellar season 3. It seems unlikely that Marvel would bench such a beloved character any longer than they have to. Thanks to the long wait until Disney once again has access, it's probable that any Defenders who eventually return to the fold will be recast. However, certain performances are going to be near impossible to top. Either way, it would seem as though these heroes are in dire need of some rescuing.