By now, you may have already finished binging the entire first season of Marvel’s Luke Cage. If not, you’re probably getting pretty close to the end. The series is a hit and may have even broken Netflix for a couple hours on Saturday.
As usual, the well-received showcase of a new hero has people wondering, again, whether or not Luke Cage or any other members of The Defenders will be able to cash in on the second word of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Luke Cage himself, Mike Colter, discussed the creative and practical obstacles that stand in the way of turning that fan dream into a reality.
“What we do is really unique… We’re adult kind of oriented. We’re not PG-13. We’re not really for the mass audiences, like crowd-pleasing, you know, family-oriented. We have sex scenes. We have cursing. We have, you know, adult situations, and while I think it would be nice to be in the films, I don’t know if we want to dilute what it is that we’re doing that makes us very unique.
“That being said, you know Marvel, if they can kind of make it work, I’m sure it’d be nice, but it’s really a scheduling thing. I mean they schedule movies years in advance; we’re shooting TV series all year round. It’s very tough to kind of make things just work the way you want to because it’s just so much going on.”
This is all very true, which is why we have seen variations of this reasoning used by several Marvel actors, writers, directors, and producers over the past couple years. Of course Marvel can cut out the much more R-rated elements of the Netflix characters to get them in a room with Iron Man or Captain America, but the risk of diluting what sets The Defenders apart is a valid concern.
That creative hurdle can obviously be overcome, but the logistics might be even more challenging. So many are asking for The Defenders in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled follow-up, but the story of that movie is closer and closer to being set in stone with production looming late this year and going into the first half of 2017. All of that is for a pair of movies that won’t be out until May 2018 and May 2019.
Meanwhile, Iron Fist is currently in production for a debut sometime in the first half of next year and The Defenders will go into production late this year for a debut in the third or fourth quarter of 2017. That’s saying nothing of another potential Marvel Netflix season that could come out in early 2018.
Have all the creative decisions that could impact the status of each Defender going into Infinity War been made? It’s possible, but probably not since the lead time from scripting to production in television is so much shorter than it is in film.
It’s also worth noting that so far, The Defenders have lived up to their billing as street-level heroes. They’re doing their part in saving the neighborhood which, to the people of Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, is every bit as important as The Avengers saving the world. Thanos coming to Earth with an Infinity Gauntlet won’t necessarily mean that all local concerns stop and leave The Defenders with nothing to do.
It’s not like being absent from the movies has hurt The Defenders thus far. Each Marvel Netflix series has been very well received by fans and critics. These characters are flourishing in their own corner of the MCU.
They’re doing so well that Luke Cage did not even mind breaking from the canon just a bit by referencing President Barack Obama instead of the MCU’s Commander-in-Chief, President Matthew Ellis (William Sadler). That little continuity break, which works very well in Luke Cage, may not have happened if the Netflix series were going to cross further into the rest of the MCU.
This is not to say that The Defenders cannot or should not appear in the movies. They can, but they don’t have to in order to make those characters or the greater MCU any more connected than they already are.