Dearly beloved, we're gathered here to pay respects to — nay, honor in the highest regard — a major part of our lives for the past half-decade. As Netflix released the third season of Jessica Jones earlier this morning, so marks the final resting place of a massive effort from Marvel Television. As quickly as the mini-universe arrived on the streaming giant, it dissipated into the night, and for the first time in five years, fans of shows like Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, or the aforementioned Jessica Jones no longer have anything to look forward to on the subscription-based surface.
Anchored by the tentpole Daredevil, Marvel Television set out to accomplish something never done in the then-budding world of streaming technology. Jeph Loeb and company aspired to create an interconnected entertainment universe home to crossovers galore, and they did just that.
Sure, the group of Netflix shows were technically part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though they didn't feature any movie characters — or any of the characters from television shows outside of Netflix, for that matter. But that's what ended up as a blessing in disguise for the MCU as a whole. Despite mentioning "the big green guy" or Captain America, the characters never appeared in the flesh, making the MCU appear as a much larger world on screen.
At the time of the first Marvel and Netflix announcement in 2013, no company or production studio had done something as ambitious as an interconnected universe featuring four actively running shows. At the time, The CW's Arrow was just getting off the ground and wouldn't spawn it's first spinoff in The Flash for another year, then Supergirl -- which wasn't then connected -- another year after that. The fact remains that what started as four shows and a crossover special ended up being much more than another batch of superhero programming.
The Defendersverse was greater than the sum of its parts; it was a trailblazer and the first of its kind. Not only did it inspire others to pursue shared universe among properties, but it also proved fans would tune in to watch heroes and vigilantes that were as close to human as possible. The grounded, gritty take on the superhero genre was a breath of fresh air at the time, and they succeeded on delivering both, including adult-oriented themes and content that'd never see the light of day with a Marvel Studios property on the silver screen.
Here lies the Defendersverse, beloved by many and a pioneer in its own right. May its memory forever live on in the hearts of genre fans. The Defendersverse is survived by the likes of Cloak and Dagger, Legion, and Agents of SHIELD, which can be seen Friday nights on ABC beginning at 8/7 p.m. Central.
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