The screenwriters of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame were counting on fans watching all 22 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they weren’t sure if you also had a Netflix subscription and binged through the Marvel TV shows. So if you wanted to know why Daredevil and his New York buddies weren’t in Avengers: Endgame, that’s why. Pretty lame excuse if you ask us.
In an interview with The New York Times, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely covered a wide range of topics related to Avengers: Endgame, from the deaths of major characters to parallels with HBO’s Game of Thrones.
One subject the Times asked was if the writers thought to include the Netflix side of the MCU in Avengers: Endgame. Ultimately, none of the characters from Marvel/Netflix shows, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher, were seen with the Avengers.
As McFeely told the Times, the writers felt they would “have to introduce these five characters,” which was a creative hurdle they avoided altogether.
“We already are assuming people have seen a lot of the movies. Are we really going to assume they have bought a subscription to Netflix and watched those shows enough so that when they see them, they’re going to go ‘yay?’”
Speaking on behalf of fans, the answer is YES. Fans really did watch all, if not most of the Marvel spin-off shows in the hope that those characters would also appear in the big screen, if only for a brief cameo. (A big battle filled with hundreds of extras is a pretty choice spot for such a cameo. Heck, they even managed to jam Howard the Duck into the movie)
No, not every fan watched everything, but a quick search on social media shows that fans were invested so much in the MCU franchise that they hoped to see that investment rewarded in Avengers: Endgame.
There are, of course, real obstacles both legal and logistical that prevented appearances from the TV heroes.
Arranging a half dozen more union actors with busy schedules to fly to Atlanta to film a few minutes of footage is a monumental task. Getting around the blood feud between Kevin Feige (head of Marvel Studios) and Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s CEO who oversees Marvel Television (with Jeph Loeb) is another thing that no amount of Infinity Stones can overpower.
And there is some logic to the screenwriters’ reasoning for excluding the TV universes. Yes, it is easier to assume fans can watch 22 single movies as opposed to multiple seasons of four or five hour-long dramas on a premium subscription platform.
At the same time, fans knew that fighting Thanos was the, ahem, endgame to Marvel’s movie universe. So of course, fans committed to watching tie-in shows like Daredevil and Iron Fist that started with clear connections to the films and some vague notion those characters will someday share the screen with Captain America and Iron Man.
Both the film and TV side of Marvel have commented on the potential for crossovers over time. In 2015, Feige fielded questions from ScreenRant in the immediate aftermath of Daredevil Season 1, which earned glowing reviews upon its premiere on Netflix in the spring of 2015.
“We certainly have had discussions and thoughts where down the line who can show up and where, but they’ve been very smart in saying, ‘Let us establish us here first,’ which they’re off to a very very good start,” said Feige.
In 2016, Charlie Cox commented on the possibility. “I have not received that call,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “But yeah, that would be the coolest thing ever. But I’ve got no idea how — Marvel TV and Marvel Studios are two different things. So even if the character were to appear in that film doesn’t mean that I would appear.”
Cox’s comments became true, somewhat, years later after Netflix canceled production on its Marvel shows. (Jessica Jones will air its third and final season at an undetermined point in the future.) It was later discovered that Marvel Studios will earn back the rights to feature the characters it licensed to Netflix two years after Netflix’s cancellation dates.
So the Defenders may one day appear in the movies yet. It just won’t happen any time soon, and you can bet they won’t be the same.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.