Just like that, the work of the Defenders is complete. Following the Presidents’ Day weekend news that Netflix officially ended its partnership with Disney-owned Marvel, Marvel TV President Jeph Loeb wrote an open letter to fans promising that the Defenders will return. Someday.
On Monday, shortly after Deadline reported that Netflix canceled Marvel’s The Punisher and that the upcoming third season of Jessica Jones will be its last, Loeb published a letter thanking the hundreds of cast and crew members who put on these shows, and thanking fans for streaming it all.
“On behalf of everyone at Marvel Television, we couldn’t be more proud or more grateful to our audience,” he wrote.
In what can only be interpreted as, what the kids call “shade” thrown in the direction of Netflix (unnamed in his letter), Loeb added:
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. As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, “The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up.”
To be continued…!
So, will the Defenders return? Are their stories actually “to be continued”? Possibly. While Marvel maybe would immediately green light new seasons of Daredevil et al., it cannot for the time being.
As we explained in this article regarding The Punisher, there is an alleged 18-month clause prohibiting Disney/Marvel from using the Defenders characters in any capacity related to TV or film. What this means is that for 18 months after the day Netflix cancelled its Marvel shows, Marvel cannot use characters like Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, etc. in other shows or movies.
So, you really shouldn’t expect cameos of the Defenders or the Punisher in Avengers: Endgame, or in literally anything Marvel that isn’t comic books or video games until 2021 at the earliest. Even then, fans shouldn’t expect the same characters to return, as the actors fans have come to know may be tied up in other projects by then. It’s possible a total reboot could be in the cards.
Meanwhile, all the Marvel shows produced by Netflix will remain available to watch on the service. There is healthy speculation the shows will migrate to other services, such as Disney+ (launching in 2019), or Hulu, which Disney owns a majority stake after its expensive acquisition of 20th Century Fox.
The monumental Marvel/Netflix partnership began in 2013, when the two companies announced a slate of interconnected TV shows featuring the characters of Daredevil, Jessica Jone, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, who would unite in one crossover series, The Defenders. The Punisher, a character introduced in Season 2 of Daredevil, earned his own spin-off after actor Jon Bernthal received acclaim for his portrayal of damaged U.S. Marine and vigilante Frank Castle.
All of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher are streaming now on Netflix.