Whether you see it as a classic case of the law of diminishing returns, or the victim of a greater societal case of ‘Superhero Fatigue’, there’s no denying that the Netflix/Marvel alliance isn’t having it easy of late. With open hostility towards two of the shows involved (Luke Cage/Iron Fist), and the start of negative rumblings about a third (Jessica Jones), audience reactions are starting to cause a headache for the project’s show-runners. And to top it all off, one of Netflix’s executive team has now publicly announced there are no current plans for a second season of The Defenders.
It all started so well for the series. Pitched as a more bloody, brutal and realistic corner of the MCU than cinema-goers had become accustomed to, the opening seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones blew both critics and audiences away. These were narratives that spent the majority of their time focusing on backstory and human emotion, whilst simultaneously also managing to raise the bar when it came to fight scenes and action set-pieces.
Even in the wake of the misfires of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the project managed to bounce back a little. The success of Jon Bernthal’s extended cameo in Season 2 of Daredevil earned The Punisher an unplanned solo outing, and the villains of all six Netflix shows are still considered a vast improvement on the majority of their movie counterparts.
But then the much anticipated Defenders show arrived. And whilst it was by no means a let-down, the weak and tepid reaction from Marvel fans demonstrated that something somewhere in the snow’s creation just hadn’t quite worked. The decision to swap Sigourney Weaver’s mysterious antagonist out for Elektra did not go down well, and there was a general feeling that the chance to include some new big name Marvel characters was cruelly squandered.
This week, Netflix’s current Vice President of Original Content, Cindy Holland, told Deadline that although the project remained open to a second season of the unifying Defenders team-up, that nothing tangible had been put into play in order to make that happen. When pushed on the reasoning behind this disappointing decision, Holland replied:
“The biggest issue was the timing of production and launching of The Defenders, because what that meant is we had to shut down all of the shows, so all the actors could be available.”
Holland was then further asked about the possibility of adding new characters and new shows to their joint enterprise win the comic book company. She again replies that this was not currently the case, before adding:
“Though there is always an ongoing discussion about spinning off additional characters into additional properties.”
There’s no denying the logistical issues behind trying to line up the cast members of all five solo storylines to create a new Defenders show, but the issue remains that it was the team-up that was supposed to link all the different heroes together. By not writing in further joint adventures for the four heroes to pursue, all this does is enhance the issues around each individual show, and damage the overall viability of the project.
Iron Fist Season 2 lands in Netflix September 7th, 2018, with Daredevil Season 3 and The Punisher Season 2 following close by.