In yet another shocking move for the streaming service, Netflix has cancelled the hit Marvel TV series Daredevil after three seasons. This comes on the heels of the not-super-surprising cancellation of Iron Fist—the least successful of the Marvel Netflix shows—which was then followed by the more surprising cancellation of Luke Cage. But with Netflix giving Daredevil the axe, I think it’s safe to say something more than ratings or views went into these decisions.
Launched in 2015, Daredevil was the first of five Marvel Netflix series, which were intended as Marvel’s outlet to explore somewhat darker and grittier TV show adaptations of their comics characters as opposed to the broadcast shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. Marvel TV went big on Daredevil, bringing in Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) to create, write, run, and direct the first season. But Goddard departed the show before production began when he was offered the opportunity to direct Sony’s Sinister Six movie, which ironically never came to fruition.
Goddard laid out the story arc of the first season, which was overseen by Steven S. DeKnight. Then for Daredevil Season 2, Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez took over as showrunners, introducing the character of The Punisher played by Jon Bernthal, who subsequently got his own spinoff series (which hasn’t been cancelled… yet). Daredevil Season 3 launched this past October to acclaim from fans and critics alike, and new showrunner Erik Oleson Tweeted on November 16th that he had just pitched Daredevil Season 4 to Netflix.
Now, in a statement to Deadline, Netflix announced that Daredevil has been cancelled:
“Marvel’s Daredevil will not return for a fourth season on Netflix. We are tremendously proud of the show’s last and final season and although it’s painful for the fans, we feel it best to close this chapter on a high note. We’re thankful to showrunner Erik Oleson, the show’s writers, stellar crew and incredible cast including Charlie Cox as Daredevil himself, and we’re grateful to the fans who have supported the show over the years. While the series on Netflix has ended, the three existing seasons will remain on the service for years to come, while the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel.”
That last line is particularly eye-catching, and speaks to why Netflix may be cancelling these Marvel TV shows in the first place. In 2019, Disney is set to launch its proprietary streaming service Disney+, which we know will play host to new Marvel TV shows. So far, only a limited series starring Tom Hiddleston as Loki has been confirmed, but limited series revolving around Falcon and Winter Soldier, and potentially Scarlet Witch, have also been rumored. These shows would be run by Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, not Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb, the latter of whom has overseen the development and execution of the Marvel Netflix shows.
It’s possible that Marvel TV has its own plans for Disney+ separate from Feige’s limited series plans, but so far we haven’t heard what those plans might entail. Daredevil was by far the most popular Marvel Netflix show and it’s hard to imagine it was worthy of being cancelled from a pure viewership standpoint. It sounds like Marvel intends to resurrect the Daredevil character in some form in the near future, be it in the feature film Marvel Cinematic Universe or on Disney+. Whether that would involve Charlie Cox and the canon that’s been established in the Netflix series is unclear at the moment.
The only Marvel Netflix shows that haven’t been cancelled at this point are Jessica Jones and The Punisher, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time. Jessica Jones Season 3 started filming this summer and The Punisher Season 2 wrapped filming this past August, so both are too far along at this point to axe entirely. But once those seasons debut in 2019, you can probably bet it’s the last we’ll see of those shows in their Netflix form.
So it looks as though this marks the end of an era for a pretty ambitious experiment from Marvel TV. It wasn’t a complete success (see: Iron Fist Season 1 or The Defenders), but it was an admirable alternative to the big screen MCU and no doubt fans of these series are left wondering what’s next. Netflix has recently been culling content from its service that it doesn’t own outright (like American Vandal), so its cancellation of these Marvel shows isn’t necessarily a unique scenario. Though it’s still impossible to ignore the impending arrival of Disney+, and I imagine that had something to do with Netflix’s decision to put an end to Daredevil.
What say you, fans? Would you like to see Daredevil Season 4 resurrected on Disney+, or would you rather see the character rebooted for the big screen? Sound off in the comments below.