2/13/22 Update below. This post was originally published on February 11.
Since this article was published, Netflix has come out to confirm that the rights to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher, Iron Fist and The Defenders will indeed revert to Disney as of midnight on February 28, ending a partnership that spanned several years and almost a dozen seasons between all the shows.
While the character rights went back to Marvel some time ago, which is why we saw these characters appear elsewhere in the MCU, that’s different than the show rights, and now Disney literally owns the programming itself, and can indeed put all these series wherever they want, using them to bolster their own streaming ambitions.
There are only two main options here, Hulu, which Disney owns, and of course Disney Plus. In recent days, despite Hulu seemingly being the place for more “adult” content, which these shows certainly fall under, Kevin Feige has been talking about the maturity and violence level of Disney Plus’s upcoming Moon Knight show in a way that would imply that D+ may be on the way toward broadening its horizons and expanding beyond PG-13 fare.
This is from an interview with Kevin Feige about Moon Knight:
“He’s brutal. It’s been fun to work with Disney Plus and see the boundaries shifting on what we’re able to do. There are moments [in the series] when Moon Knight is wailing on another character, and it is loud and brutal, and the knee-jerk reaction is, ‘We’re gonna pull back on this, right?’ No. We’re not pulling back. There’s a tonal shift. This is a different thing. This is Moon Knight.”
If that’s the case, then Disney would be able to keep all its Marvel shows together, and it would make sense that say, Daredevil seasons 1-3 would be on Disney Plus right next to Hawkeye season 1, when both series share Kingpin. Out of all the shows, The Punisher may be the hardest sell, given the extreme nature of some of its violence, and yet it does sound like Moon Knight may be going that far as well. I would not rule out Disney finally agreeing to have all-ages content on Disney Plus rather than opt to split its Marvel content between there and Hulu. It would make for a much more cohesive package.
Disney may be debating all this itself internally, so we’ll see what they have to say soon enough.
Original article follows:
Well this is pretty big. Netflix has now started to show a brief message to some viewers who are booting up the Defenders suite of Marvel shows for the first time, saying that they will be removed from the service on March 1. I just tested it out myself, playing Iron Fist episode one, and the March 1 message does indeed appear in the corner, albeit for quite literally, under a second.
The shows on this list would include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and the Defenders crossover series. They are a relic of another age before Disney was doing its own Marvel shows on Disney Plus, and they were a partner, not a rival to Netflix.
MORE FROM FORBES’Moon Knight’ Hints Netflix Marvel Shows Like ‘Daredevil’ Should Be Headed To Disney PlusBy Paul Tassi
But now, fans already have realized that the deal between Netflix and Marvel has expired for these characters, hence Matt Murdock appearing in the new Spider-Man and Kingpin showing up in Hawkeye on Disney Plus. And it stands to reason if these shows are coming down off Netflix in March, they are likely headed to either Disney Plus itself, or possibly the Disney-owned Hulu, which could be seen as a better fit for the more violent series like Daredevil and Punisher, which have “adult content” beyond what Disney’s MCU shows have done so far.
From left: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Finn Jones and Mike Colter arrive for the Netflix premiere … [+] of Marvel’s “The Defenders” on July 31, 2017 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP via Getty Images
I suppose I realized that this was probably going to happen eventually, but those shows are so intimately linked with Netflix, it’s weird to see them leave. That was during a strange era where Marvel TV and Marvel movies were very disconnected, as though all those series were technically in the MCU, there were never really any true crossovers with the movies.
But now? Disney appears to be up for bringing many of these characters back. We’ve already seen this happened with two different Daredevil characters, including its star, and more are supposed to return for the upcoming Echo series. There’s even talk of restarting Daredevil altogether. And if that’s happening, you might be able to imagine other characters like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage could reappear somewhere as well in the universe.
Jon Bernthal, The Punisher, said he was only interested in returning to the role if the show would remain as “true” to the character as it has been, ie. being extremely violent, which again, feels like a Hulu thing, rather than being able to exist on Disney Plus. Jessica Henwick recently said in an interview that she turned down a role in Shang-Chi because she was holding out hope that her Colleen Wing Iron Fist character could return to the MCU someday, and that wouldn’t happen if she was cast as a different part (I’d certainly watch a new season of Iron Fist starring her, though not Danny Rand).
So, we’ll see if Netflix or Disney has something to say officially about this. But the notice is real, I’ve seen it myself, and this removal appears to be imminent. I’d prioritize getting through Daredevil seasons 1-3, Jessica Jones season 1 and Punisher season 1 before they leave, if you haven’t seen them yet.
Update 2: Netflix also has Agents of SHIELD, but I did not see the March 1 message there, while I have now confirmed it shows up on the other six Netflix-MCU shows. SHIELD was originally on ABC, and may be part of a separate agreement
Follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to my free weekly content round-up newsletter, God Rolls.
Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.