The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone through a few difficult phases over the years – none, though, have been as messy or experimental as when Marvel Television (RIP) became a completely separate entity to Marvel Studios.
Essentially, from 2010 through to 2019, Marvel’s TV shows were under a different jurisdiction to the movies. Jeph Loeb, a controversial though influential figure, headed up the TV department, while Kevin Feige led the cinematic division Marvel Studios. The result was a splatter-gun approach to television that saw various projects – Agents of SHIELD, Legion, Runaways – being released by Marvel but having both heavy ties to the main canon (SHIELD) and non at all (Legion).
During this period, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage were released on Netflix. These shows, which culminated in an Avengers-stye team-up titled The Defenders, were adult-orientated, featuring blood, sex, and drugs. They started off heavily linked to the movies (the first seasons reference the New York incident depicted in The Avengers), but gradually lost sight of the wider picture. Eventually, the shows were canceled and Marvel Studios and Marvel Television merged (Loeb out, Feige at the head).
Now, the shows have a new lease of life – and there’s a new opportunity to continue these characters’ various stories. Daredevil – along with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Punisher – are available on Disney Plus, and, perhaps not coincidently, multiple characters from the newly named “The Defenders Saga” have started appearing in mainstream-MCU projects, namely Spider-Man: No Way Home and Hawkeye. With the move to Disney Plus, there’s seemingly little doubt that these series are fully part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In fact, Vincent D’Onofrio, who portrayed Kingpin, previously revealed to GamesRadar+ that he approached returning as the villain in Hawkeye as having the same emotional arch as seen in Daredevil. “I’m approaching it as if it’s after the Blip, everybody’s returned, and it’s the same emotionally and character-wise,” he said. “I play him exactly the way he was in Daredevil.”
Not just blind faith…
The question remains: will the adventures of Daredevil and friends continue? Many will hope that Feige answers that with a nod. Charlie Cox, who plays Matt Murdock, has spoken about his desire to return as the vigilante lawyer. Jon Bernthal likewise wants another shot at playing The Punisher. And, frankly, their shows deserve to continue on Disney Plus.
Daredevil’s first season was peak Netflix – there’s a reason the series remained on our best Netflix shows list for multiple years. Those first 13 episodes told a well-rounded, wonderfully paced story about a New Yorker coming to terms with having a special ability. Murdock had a formidable foe in Kingpin and interesting companions in Foggy and Karen. Jessica Jones continued the hot streak; Krysten Ritter played the drunk photographer with panache, and David Tenant made for another brilliant villain as the manipulative Kilgrave. Luke Cage introducer the world to the bullet-proof hero, though the series started to stumble after Mahashalla Ali’s departed from the show. (The less said about Iron Fist, the better.)
After a while, the Netflix shows became difficult to keep up with. New seasons of Dareveil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist were all released in 2018, and the quality, by that stage, was flagging. Still, there’s such a great foundation for future stories to bounce off of. What’s more, Marvel Studios could rectify some wrongs, such as having the Iron Fist mantel pass from Finn Jones to someone else. Any future seasons could even take the soft-reboot approach, treating what came before as canon, but telling new and separate stories.
The Defenders Saga came at a strange point in time for Marvel. The TV studio was going through turmoil and the movies were finding their feet. Now, the MCU is united on Disney Plus. The Defenders deserve a new lease of life – and, if anyone can do justice to bringing the team back and making them a major force in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s Kevin Feige. Bring on Daredevil season 4!
Planning to watch Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage on Disney Plus? Then be sure to check out our guide to how to watch the Defenders Saga in order.