Luke Cage, like his pal Iron Fist, really is a hero for hire, as the series no longer has a home at Netflix. The streaming company canceled their second Marvel series in as many weeks for reasons that don’t feel quite as clear as the motive behind Iron Fist‘s cancellation.
“Unfortunately, Marvel’s Luke Cage will not return for a third season,” Marvel and Netflix told Deadline in a joint statement. “Everyone at Marvel Television and Netflix is grateful to the dedicated showrunner, writers, cast and crew who brought Harlem’s Hero to life for the past two seasons, and to all the fans who have supported the series.”
This news comes as a surprise considering that the Luke Cage writers’ room had already been hard at work for the past several months. Deadline reports that the series was done in by a combination of creative differences and contractual issues arising from the season three episode order being reduced to 10 from the usual 13.
The situation had already been tense for about a month before a breaking point was reportedly reached in the last 48 hours before Luke Cage was chopped. The timing, however, feels more than a little coincidental with Iron Fist having been canceled so recently. It’s also unfortunate, considering that this weekend should be about the premiere of Daredevil season three, which just hit Netflix last night.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher are still welcome at Netflix, but it’s fair to wonder how much longer they’ll be around. I’ve suspected Marvel’s days at Netflix were numbered due to Disney’s own streaming service coming next year and the Fox deal giving Disney 60% of Hulu (and all of FX).
It’s easy to see why Disney wouldn’t want Marvel creating any more series/episodes for their soon-to-be competitor outside of satisfying their current contractual obligations, but now it appears Netflix may be looking forward to the end of this relationship as well. Netflix made headlines last month by rebranding the Facebook page for The Defenders to their own “NX” sub-brand for genre material.
The Marvel shows are expensive and Netflix has purchased the rights to several superhero properties from Mark Millar and Rob Liefeld over the past couple of years. Those properties, since Netflix bought them outright, won’t have the licensing fees and other considerations that come with Marvel’s intellectual property.
If you’re holding out hope for a Heroes for Hire series, it’s not going to happen, at least not on Netflix. Marvel Television has already hinted that they’re done creating new series (and Heroes for Hire would be a new series) for Netflix. They just want to make new seasons of current shows, as long as Netflix allows them to do so.
The only way to keep Heroes for Hire, which would team Luke Cage (Mike Colter) with Danny Rand (Finn Jones), alive would have been for Rand to appear in Cage’s third season. That can’t happen now and the same goes for a Daughters of the Dragon team-up between Misty Knight (Simone Missick) and Collen Wing (Jessica Henwick).
Usually, canceled shows are free to go elsewhere, so Luke Cage and Iron Fist, or Heroes for Hire and Daughters of the Dragon, may be able to find new life on the Disney streaming service, Hulu, or FX. Without knowing what the contracts look like between Marvel Television and Netflix, however, it’s hard to know if this is really an option for these series. In the case of Iron Fist, it’s not even worth pursuing.
Daredevil just dropped its third season and now we’ll wait nervously to see if there’s a fourth. Jessica Jones has already been renewed for a third season, but with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg departing after it’s complete, the odds of a fourth are less than ideal. I won’t even be shocked if cameras never roll on season three at this point. The Punisher has already completed production on its second season, so that’s still on the way. It’s best to go into this next season as if it’s the last for the series, however, as it probably will be.
The end of Marvel on Netflix has been in the cards for almost a year. We just didn’t expect this hand to be dealt quite so soon.