Ever since the back-to-back cancellations of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, fans have been wondering about the state of the Marvel-Netflix series. Is this the beginning of the end? Is this once-promising universe about street level superheroes in New York on its way out? Is Netflix planning to cancel Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher as well?
And the answer to that question is: Yes. Probably.
One need only look no further than the newest season of Daredevil for evidence. Oh? You didn’t know there was a new season of Daredevil? Well, that’s okay. Neither did a lot of other people. Probably because Netflix has done almost nothing to promote it.
When you want a product to succeed, you generally do everything in your power to make people aware of it. Cast interviews, press junkets, advertising online and on tv; on Netflix, this also means promoting on twitter feeds, promoting it as a featured show, and generally making it known and readily available as a featured new product and through lists like “New on Netflix” and “Trending Now.”
Also, you don’t overshadow it with announcements about companion show cancellations on the exact same day it’s released.
But guess what Netflix has done with Daredevil? Almost none of these things (except the whole Luke Cage cancellation). Some fans have even complained that not only were they not made aware of the new season coming out, but that you really have to go looking for it. People aren’t talking about Daredevil anywhere near the level of its first two years. But then, is it because people don’t care about it, or is it that they don’t know?
If you weren’t already aware of and actively seeking out the new season of Daredevil, it’s unlikely you watched it. Which is a damn shame. Because this new season is bloody fantastic.
Here’s the thing: Daredevil is indisputably the most popular of the Marvel Netflix shows. It had the most massive cultural impact, its first season got unprecedented ratings, its primary villain is considered one of the best in the entire genre, and Daredevil is probably the best-known character of anyone in the Defenders-verse. So if you want to be able to justify killing off the most-beloved of your properties, what’s the best way to go about doing it? Release it, as per contract, but do it with so little fanfare that almost no one pays any attention. Then you can simply tell everyone, “Oh, nobody really cared that much,” when you ultimately decide to cancel.
Netflix is reliably opaque about ratings, but they did let us know one thing: the first week of season three saw a 57% decline in comparison to the first week of season two. While that appears staggering at first glance, there are factors worth taking into account:
- Season two was riding high off the enormous success of season one
- Season two had a far more mixed reception
- There have been numerous seasons of Defenders-verse released in the time since to varying degrees of quality
- There was a two-and-a-half-year gap between seasons two and three
- Season two of Daredevil remains the highest viewed of anything original on Netflix in the last three years
And with everything in between, not to mention the sheer amount of content on television vying for attention, this is why you promote the hell out of something when it finally returns after a multi-year gap. Something Netflix has failed to do on almost every level.
If they can justify cancelling Daredevil, it will be much easier to kill the whole thing. Don’t be surprised if Netflix goes quiet and then, the same day Jessica Jones releases its third season, they announce there will be no more Daredevil or Jessica Jones after this. That The Punisher season two will burn off, and that will be it. The end. No more Marvel-Netflix deal. No more Defenders-verse.
If we’re lucky, Disney will pick the whole thing up for its streaming service. While not without its flaws, the Defenders-verse has genuine greatness to it. Killing it in this relatively early stage would be a monumental waste of all the time and effort spent putting the entire sub-universe together; a welcome supplement to the MCU films that’s grounded, street-level, adult and mature. Not to mention that we’ll probably never get better live-action versions of Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Colleen Wing, and Misty Knight in our lifetimes.
So in the meanwhile, go watch season three of Daredevil while you can. Netflix may not want you to know about it, but it’s amazing.