The Reasons Behind Netflix’s Marvel Series Cancellations

Making Netflix's Marvel shows was problematic from the start.

Marvel's The Defenders on Netflix

A new Live Feed rundown from THR has laid out the bare facts of Netflix and Marvel’s divorce, why the partnership had to end, and what the future of Marvel streaming will be.

Previously this week, we got some news that seemed utterly inevitable – Jessica Jones and The Punisher were toast on Netflix. The cancellation of the two shows came after Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and even flagship Marvel show Daredevil all got the axe from the streaming service, despite positive reviews for all three new seasons of each series.

The burning ember at the centre of the Netflix/Marvel partnership – that eventually had to go out – was the fact that Netflix didn’t own a stake in any of the series. Disney always owned them, and Netflix paid a hefty price to license them. So not only was Netflix shelling out to make 5 expensive shows, it was paying a licensing fee on top, and reaping little reward from the arrangement, with declining viewing figures (cited heavily in various analytics reports) likely a downer for people higher up, too.

Disney certainly won’t be seen scratching around for spare change after losing Netflix’s licensing “rent” on its Marvel series. The ball is now very much in its court when it comes to the future of them. It can choose to forget about them, occasionally hint at bringing them back to stir up the old fan base, or even resurrect them if there’s enough demand.

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As many people have pointed out, Disney is very much focusing on its own streaming service now, Disney+, which it’s pouring a massive amount of money into. Three MCU spin-off shows are in various stages of development – Loki, Vision and Scarlet Witch, and Falcon & Winter Soldier – as well as two live-action series from the Star Wars universe, the first of which has cost Disney a staggering $100 million for just ten episodes from Jon Favreau, Taika Waititi and more. Not forgetting that it also has the entire Disney back catalogue at its fingertips.

Meanwhile, Disney still has the Marvel brand slapped all over its other shows, including ABC’s Agents Of SHIELD, Hulu’s Cloak & Dagger and Runaways, and FOX series, The Gifted.

As sad as it may be, one reason that Netflix’s Marvel shows are no longer viable is that Netflix finally needed to cut its losses and move on, a decision that can’t have been easy considering the Marvel family it had built up, one which had become instrumental in its rise to the juggernaut it’s become.

Another reason is that this is just the beginning of the overall streaming landscape changing – WarnerMedia and Comcast are both launching their own streaming services soon, and we’re likely to see other films and series that Netflix pays out for from both companies leaving our screens for those new pastures.

THR also noted that there had been significant changes behind the scenes on Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Iron Fist in their tenure on Netflix – showrunners left and needed to be replaced, causing “creative issues” that probably would have been a constant source of problems for everyone involved.

Will we see Netflix’s Marvel shows rise from the dead? Maybe, but it’ll no doubt be a while until we get any confirmation either way. The actors are moving on, the writers are moving on, and – for now – so shall we.