Netflix Cancelled ‘Iron Fist’ and ‘Luke Cage,’ Is Their Marvel Collaboration About to End?

It both was and wasn’t a surprise when Netflix cancelled Iron Fist. The show’s first season had been poorly received by fans and critics, though Netflix reported a lot of people watched it and the just-released second season was much improved, according to critics. I personally only made it through about 20 minutes of the first episode of season two before switching over to watch Disenchantment for the 5th time.

Luke Cage getting cancelled was a big shock for everyone, though. Cage had been successful and well-received with a third season in pre-production when Netflix let word out that it had pulled the plug over what The Hollywood Report calls “creative differences,” with one rumor being one side wanted to cut the episode order to 10 from 13.

The truth is, Netflix painted themselves into a corner when they started picking up individual shows beyond the initial order of four 13-episode series followed by a miniseries. The individual shows did a fairly poor job of laying the groundwork for The Defenders and were mostly concerned with their own story arcs. Jessica Jones in particular spent a lot of time in season one setting up plot threads for season two, which at that time wasn’t a sure thing, and it spent very little time giving any reason for Jessica to join up with the other heroes beyond her brief relationship with Luke Cage.

One problem this caused is that because Netflix was never going to air five Marvel shows a year (until this year), the continuing plots from each show were put on hold for years at a time while they crossed over in The Defenders, which, again, really failed to establish any reason whatsoever for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to be involved. With the exception of Daredevil’s first and second seasons, Netflix’s Marvel shows have all had about a two-year gap between seasons, and a year is already long time for shows most people binge-watch over a single weekend.

Marvel pushed out new seasons of all four of their original Marvel shows this year, though, and The Punisher came late last year with season two expected next year. It was clearly something they don’t want to do every year. There’s a question of how many Marvel shows people are willing to watch, as in addition to the six Netflix series, Marvel also has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, Runaways on Hulu and Cloak and Dagger on Freeform. In addition to those, shows, they’re also shopping New Warriors after it was dropped by Freeform.

The elephant in the room, however, is Disney’s upcoming streaming service that’s set to compete with Netflix. While everyone and their mother seemed to think that the Mouse would want to pull their shows from Netflix to migrate them to their own service, that was never an option. Netflix doesn’t have any ownership of the shows or characters but they absolutely had the power to keep ordering new shows and to keep streaming the ones they already produced. But the Disney streaming service may have been on the minds of Netflix execs nonetheless.

While Netflix and other TV networks have been getting shows with C-list characters and even ABC’s Agents only had brief cameos from Sam Jackson and Cobie Smulders to tie it to the movies before deciding that they should stay away from movies altogether, Marvel is developing shows for Disney’s streaming service that will directly tie into the popular film franchise and star actors from the films and are being produced by Marvel Studios instead of Marvel Television. The increasing refusal of Marvel Studios and Marvel Television to acknowledge the other’s existence on-screen means that the Defenders properties are now clearly second tier. That leaves Netflix with some very expensive television shows that lost all of the prestige they had when the deal was inked in 2013, hot off the success of The Avengers.

I don’t think it’s surprising that Iron Fist and Luke Cage were cut loose, and I expect at least one if not all of Netflix’s remaining Marvel shows to get cut after their in-production seasons end. I’m actually thinking it’s going to be all of them. Now that Marvel is everywhere at all times, being the place to see all the best characters that aren’t good enough to have their own films isn’t that appealing of a prospect anymore.

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