When Marvel and Netflix first announced that they would be bringing us the Netflix corner of the MCU, it was a big deal, but one that was not advertised as something to continue indefinitely. With the less-restricted platform, Marvel was going to have the freedom to bring us the more mature characters of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. After each of these characters would have their one-season debut, they would come together as The Defenders. It was more than many fans ever thought to hope for, and it was coming in a television format that was taking many risks.
These risks have paid off for Marvel and Netflix, and that original plan has evolved into so much more. Within days of the world seeing the first installment of this new universe, Netflix demanded that Daredevil season two go into immediate development. Rather than waiting years for the series, it was to come just one year after the first season, pre-empting the first seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. The concept, character, and tone was a hit, but fans still held their breath that the other characters would be presented well. While Marvel promised that each character would be given a unique series within this world, there were still plenty of opportunities to screw this up.
But in the fall of 2015, Netflix viewers met Krysten Ritter‘s Jessica Jones, and everybody realized that the success of Daredevil was no fluke. While clearly in the same universe as Daredevil, the series succeeded in bringing an all-new tone that won over a completely different type of viewer. While fans of her comic persona were pleased with seeing the character brought to life, critics and awards organizations were even more pleased. For a while, it felt like Jessica Jones was being honored every day. She told a story people had been waiting to hear, and she raised the bar even higher.
However, this level of success seemed hard to maintain, and rumors continued to circle that the success of Daredevil and Jessica Jones was causing Marvel to change course, removing Iron Fist from the timeline entirely. As often as Jessica Jones was receiving awards, somebody’s brother’s cousin’s sister was having a beer with a Marvel exec who told them the fourth character in this original plan had been scrapped. It seemed that it was too much for fans to hope that the studio would be able to continue to produce these high-quality series.
While there was a longer wait after the premiere of Jessica Jones, the series was granted the inevitable second season, pushing the original plan for only 5 series to at least 7, with Marvel Television President Jeph Loeb continually insisting that Marvel only planned to release two seasons a year via the streaming service. With additional seasons being added, it seemed like it could be decades before we would ever meet Iron Fist or see the characters come together as The Defenders.
Then came the second season of Daredevil, and two new characters with large pre-existing fan bases. Fans fell in love with Elodie Yung as Elektra and forgot all the previous incarnations of the Punisher before Jon Bernthal. Before season two even premiered, there were rumors of a Punisher stand-alone series, which was announced long before any news of a third season of Daredevil was confirmed.
In the fall of 2016, Marvel took us just barely away from Hell’s Kitchen for the first season of Luke Cage, which was estimated to have the highest viewership of all of the Marvel Netflix series to that point. The series was the first to crash Netflix upon its premiere, though the carrier has never confirmed the reason for the outage. This translated into a second season renewal after a fans had just enough time to get nervous. But rather than immediately start on the second season, the studio powered right on into Iron Fist, putting all the rumors to rest as Finn Jones stepped up as Danny Rand.
However, Iron Fist was a first for the Marvel Netflix universe, in that critics hated the show. With unrelenting claims of whitewashing and cultural appropriation, early reviews had fans scared that Marvel had finally bombed. Even behind the scenes here at the MCU Exchange, there is intense debate whether this is true, or not. But the criticism didn’t appear to translate to a diminished viewership, as the show was supposedly the most binged Netflix drama premiere so far.
While Jessica Jones fans are patiently waiting for their second season, the heroes are currently teaming up for The Defenders before her return. Jeph Loeb has finally started to budge on the “Two series a year” timeline, so here is how the future currently looks:
- The Defenders is to have an 8-episode run premiering on August 18, 2017.
- The Punisher will have a full 13-episode series later in 2017.
Filming for both of these series has wrapped. We expect that these two series are all that will debut in 2017. Immediately following the filming of The Defenders, Jessica Jones finally went into production for it’s second season. A few weeks later, Luke Cage season two began filming, as well. Assuming that the shows will air in the order that they go into production, this is the order that we may see in 2018.
- Jessica Jones Season Two – It’s expected that JJ will ramp up production for season two following The Defenders
- Luke Cage Season Two
- Daredevil Season Three
Somehow, we have gone from a simple 5-series event to a whole network of shows with no end in sight. With such strong secondary characters, there’s no doubt that we will one day see Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and Trish Walker step forward into leading roles of some variety, whether it is a Daughters of the Dragon series, their own version of Heroes for Hire, or something else entirely. At this point, there are five seasons in development (The Defenders, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage) which will easily take us through 2018.
Did you ever imagine that the Netflix corner of the Marvel Universe would go so far? Where do you hope it goes, as it continues to evolve and grow? Let us know in the comments!
*Post updated April 19, 2017.