Can anyone save The Defenders? Disney+ has been looked to as a potential landing spot for the various Marvel series Netflix has canceled in 2018 and will cancel in 2019. According to the Disney executive in charge of all of the company’s streaming platforms, that could actually happen.
“They are very high-quality shows,” Disney’s Kevin Mayer told The Hollywood Reporter. Mayer, the chairman of the company’s direct-to-consumer and international division, continued, “We haven’t yet discussed that, but I would say that’s a possibility.”
Acknowledging that something is a hypothetical possibility isn’t the same as a promise that it will happen. It’s not even a suggestion that such a possibility is probable. There is at least one major obstacle that Mayer and his team will find prohibitive should they ever seriously discuss moving these shows to Disney+.
Last week, Variety reported that Marvel cannot use the characters from the Netflix series for two years after cancellation. That waiting period is fine if Marvel just wants to reboot the characters, but not if the company hopes to revive these specific iterations on Disney+.
When a show is canceled, all of the series regulars are released from their contracts. Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), and Finn Jones (Iron Fist) are now free agents who can make other commitments. There’s no guarantee they will be available when Disney is legally clear to revive their respective shows. The same goes for Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and possibly Jon Bernthal (The Punisher) when their series are likely axed next year.
Given that Netflix protected itself by negotiating this waiting period with Marvel, the streaming giant may have taken additional measures. It’s plausible that the company could have ownership over the specific iterations of the characters as they were created for the Netflix shows. At the very least, Netflix could have control over the events of the episodes it financed and distributed, leaving Marvel unable to refer back to prior seasons.
Even if Marvel could refer to previous seasons, would Disney want that? Netflix is still going to have all of the episodes it paid for on its service for years to come. It doesn’t make sense for Disney to have content on Disney+ that refers to content on Netflix. That effectively tells the consumer to stop watching Disney’s service and go check out a competing platform if they want to get caught up.
Setting contracts and basic business sense aside, the Marvel Netflix material still isn’t a good creative fit for Disney+. They are mature-rated series and Disney is not going to have any of those on Disney+. The tone of each series would have to change to the point where the existing fanbase no longer recognizes or cares about it.
Disney+ is already going to have limited series from Marvel Studios featuring characters that appear in blockbuster movies. There’s no need to bend over backward to accommodate the canceled Netflix shows.
The only genuine possibility of reviving these series is on Hulu or FX. Disney is picking up all of the latter and majority interest in the former via the Fox acquisition. That possibility is still remote, however, as those platforms can only solve the TV-MA issue. Hulu and FX cannot solve all of the other contractual and competitive concerns.
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter