There’s nothing like a holiday weekend for delivering bad news in the entertainment industry. Netflix has canceled its last two remaining series from Marvel Television. Jessica Jones and The Punisher both got the ax today.
The news is far from shocking. This is the period on the end of a sentence that Netflix started writing last October. The streaming giant canceled Iron Fist and Luke Cage within a week of each other, followed by Daredevil in November.
The Punisher dropped its second season last month and anyone who had been paying attention knew it would be the series’ last. Netflix will still drop the third season of Jessica Jones this year, but that will be it.
“Marvel’s The Punisher will not return for a third season on Netflix,” the company said in a statement to Deadline. “In addition, in reviewing our Marvel programming, we have decided that the upcoming third season will also be the final season for Marvel’s Jessica Jones.”
Netflix thanked showrunners Melissa Rosenberg (Jessica Jones) and Steve Lightfoot (The Punisher) for their contributions as well as the cast and crew for each series.
Netflix recognized that today’s cancellations are effectively the end of its relationship with Marvel Television. “We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning.”
Marvel Television and boss Jeph Loeb have released a letter to fans, hinting at a future for these characters despite this string of cancellations. “On behalf of everyone at Marvel Television, we couldn’t be more proud or more grateful to our audience. Our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters… but you know Marvel better than that.
“As Matthew Murdock’s Dad once said, ‘The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it’s how he gets back up.’ To be continued…!”
It is going to be difficult for Marvel Television to continue the story of these characters in the immediate future. As has previously been reported, each series canceled by Netflix comes with a two-year waiting period before Marvel can use the title character in a live-action adaptation.
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are all subject to that rule. The Punisher could be an exception because it was not part of the initial pact between Marvel and Netflix, but Frank Castle may have to ride the bench for a couple of years as well.
If any of these series are revived, the most likely destination is Hulu, which Disney (Marvel’s parent company) will own the majority of upon closing the Fox deal. There is no way Disney will offer mature-rated series on Disney+, but Hulu just made a deal with Marvel for a handful of adult animated series. Mature-rated live-action content could follow.
Hulu Senior Vice President Craig Erwich recently said the company could be interested in Marvel’s canceled Netflix series. “Marvel has a ton of titles we’d be interested in,” Erwich said. “It kind of just depends on when they’re ready, [and] who, most importantly, is going to be behind these things.”
The qualifiers in Erwich’s comments point to the challenges of getting these series on Hulu. Now that the shows have been canceled, all of the cast members are free agents. The same goes for all of the producers and writers. By the time the two-year waiting period is up, actors like Charlie Cox and Krysten Ritter could be regulars on other series and unavailable to return to Marvel Television.
As Erwich noted, there are plenty of Marvel titles Hulu is interested in. It seems unlikely that Hulu will wait on the canceled Netflix series when there are so many other Marvel properties that can be produced right now. There will be even more titles potentially available to Hulu once the Fox deal closes and Marvel starts expanding the presence of mutants in live-action.
It’s been a good run for Marvel Television and Netflix, but it’s over (and the writing was on the wall long before the first cancellation). The Defenders had their time and they will be back, but fans should prepare themselves for new iterations of these characters the next time they appear on a big or small screen.