The cancellations of Luke Cage and Iron Fist by Netflix were a bit head-scratching, but not exactly "shocking" in nature. However, Thursday night's announcement that Daredevil had gotten the axe was a complete surprise to fans, as the show was easily the most popular of the Marvel/Netflix franchise, and it just wrapped a stellar third season (probably the best single season of the collective Defenders universe).
Clearly, with Disney severing it's ties to Netflix, there is something more going on behind the scenes. Netflix doesn't release any sort of ratings for its programming, but one has to assume that the Marvel franchise has done well, especially in the case of Daredevil. So now, three of the five shows are gone, leaving just Jessica Jones and The Punisher remaining. But how long will that last?
After Daredevil's cancellation this week, it's pretty easy to see what's about to happen. The writing is the wall. Jessica Jones and The Punisher each have one more season. The third season of Jessica Jones is being filmed, while The Punisher's sophomore outing has already wrapped. When they finally arrive on Netflix, it's probably only a matter of time before they suffer the same fate as their predecessors.
Unfortunately, what makes all of this difficult for Marvel fans is the massive amount of uncertainty facing the future of these characters. Disney is launching its own streaming service in 2019, which will feature original programming from Marvel Studios, but the Defenders franchise is probably a little too adult-oriented for that platform. Sure, Daredevil could be altered to fit a wider and younger audience, but it's hard to believe Marvel would want to change something that has worked so well.
That leaves pretty much two options: Find another home for some of these series, or use the characters in the MCU. In the case of Daredevil in particular, it could really go either way.
When Disney's purchase of Fox is complete, it will own a controlling stake in Hulu as well as the FX Network. Either one would be a suitable home for a property like Daredevil, though FX is probably the most ideal fit. Over the years, the network has set itself apart in terms of the quality of its shows, and its ability to be bold in its choices. Any of the Marvel/Netflix programs would flourish on a network like FX, that already has shows with intense violence such as Mayans MC, American Horror Story, and Snowfall. Plus, Marvel already has a show currently airing on FX in Legion.
As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, these characters have already proven popular enough with fans to make the jump to the big screen, though it's hard to believe that any of them, other than Daredevil, could sustain a standalone film. A team-up would be the more likely scenario if a theatrical adaptation is put into development, something like Heroes for Hire, Daughters of the Dragon, or The Defenders.
We probably haven't seen the last of these characters, but don't think that Jessica Jones and The Punisher are safe from the swing of the Netflix axe. Consider them dead on arrival.