The Defenders have been defeated.
Deadline reports Netflix has cancelled both The Punisher and Jessica Jones; though the third of the latter series will still air on the streaming platform. The move concludes Netflix’s relationship with Marvel Entertainment in terms of producing new content specifically for the service. In a statement, the company said, “We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning.”
The original plan included single season commitments to four programs — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist — with a fifth series, The Defenders, collecting the lead characters from the other series in a crossover reminiscent of Marvel Studios’ Avengers initiative from its early days. The first season of Daredevil and Jessica Jones proved quite successful, earning quick series renewals. Through a quirk of production schedules, the second season of Daredevil made it to Netflix before the first seasons of Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders. That second season proved popular with the introduction of Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) and a Punisher spin-off was eventually commissioned.
With the partnership secured, success seemed to continue until Iron Fist proved to be the first critical misfire of the Defenders plan. And when The Defenders finally emerged, it was less than hoped for; leading Netflix to quietly cancel it and start seeding the idea that it was always meant to be a one-time miniseries. Then came the second seasons of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, which all experienced diminishing returns. Nevertheless, it still came as a shock when Netflix pulled the plug on Luke Cage late in the summer of 2018. A week later, it also cancelled Iron Fist, which was far less surprising. And by the time it announced Daredevil‘s end a few weeks after its third season debuted, the end of the Marvel partnership was a certainty.
But in the case of Jessica Jones, it seems the third season may have always been planed as a swan song with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg announcing her departure from the series early last summer. She will stay on through the launch of the third season; which is rumored to contain more of a final end than typically seen in a Marvel series.
In their own statement, Marvel Entertainment said, “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.” The suggestion the shows may continue on another streaming outlet like Hulu may give fans hope, but there are a number of contractual hurdles making it impossible or difficult to produce subsequent series of the shows with the same casts and crews. Nonetheless, it seems the characters will return in some form someday.
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