‘Iron Fist,’ ‘Luke Cage’ cancellations by Netflix spark serious questions

Marvel's Luke Cage Season 2
Netflix

Exactly one week after Netflix and Marvel Television announced that their much-maligned superhero series Iron Fist would not return for a third season, the companies also made the decision to pull the plug on Luke Cage, another (and significantly better-received) show to come out of their partnership.

The decision, which was announced October 20 via Deadline, has caused no small amount of questions, rumors, fan campaigns, and concern among the fans of — and teams involved with — the remaining three series in the companies’ interconnected universe: DaredevilJessica Jones, and The Punisher. Although Iron Fist was widely regarded as having improved in its second season, the success of Luke Cage across two critically acclaimed seasons made a third season seem like a foregone conclusion.

Now, though, nothing seems certain for Marvel’s Netflix universe.

According to the initial report regarding the cancellation of Luke Cage, behind-the-scenes tension between the show’s creative team Netflix and Marvel prompted the sudden decision to end the series. According to the report, “The pink-slipping of Luke Cage was ultimately a combo of the age-old Hollywood ‘creative differences’ and the inability for the parties involved to reach a deal on how to move forward, according to sources.”

The looming debut of Disney’s own streaming service reportedly complicated matters as Netflix and Marvel struggled to figure out where these series fit, now that Disney is making efforts to bring its various Marvel small-screen properties under its own banner.

While creative tensions and backroom politics have been the downfall of many shows on various platforms over the years, the suggestion that Disney’s consolidation of its Marvel properties played into the decision has sparked some concern about the rest of the Marvel-Netflix collaborations.

Filming on the second season of Punisher and the third season of Jessica Jones is already underway or completed, and the third season of Daredevil premiered on Netflix in mid-October (the day before Luke Cage was canceled). There’s been no confirmation of a fourth season for Daredevil at this point.

Whether a season 4 announcement for Daredevil is made in the next few weeks, following the season 3 premiere (when Netflix has typically announced series renewals), will likely say a lot about the future of Marvel’s street-level superheroes on Netflix.

One popular theory making the rounds is that Netflix and Marvel could be planning a team-up series for the lead characters of Iron Fist and Luke Cage.

In Marvel Comics lore, Danny Rand and Luke Cage have been partners for much of their comic-book history, forming a duo known as “Heroes for Hire” at one point. The pairing of the two heroes in the second season of Luke Cage and the crossover miniseries The Defenders earned praise from critics and general audiences, so it’s within the realm of possibility that the two solo series could be replaced with a Heroes For Hire team-up project.

In announcing the cancellation of Iron Fist, Netflix and Marvel added fuel to the fire of that particular rumor by stating, “While the series on Netflix has ended, the immortal Iron Fist will live on.”

Iron Fist star Finn Jones echoed that sentiment with his own response to the news of Luke Cage ending, which featured a photo of his fist meeting Luke Cage star Mike Colter’s hand in one of the show’s memorable moments between the two.

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While that theory certainly gives fans some hope, it seems somewhat unlikely, given the messaging coming from those involved with both series.

Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker bid a public farewell to the show on Twitter, and he was later joined by series actress Karen Pittman and Colter himself, who thanked Marvel and Netflix for the opportunity to play Harlem’s hero.

Of course, none of this has stopped fans from campaigning for the return of Iron Fist, and a current campaign on Change.org to bring back Luke Cage for a third season was closing in on 30,000 signatures as of October 22.

Unfortunately for those fans, the changing face of the streaming landscape for Netflix itself also makes the continuation of the two series unlikely.

When Marvel’s collaboration with Netflix was first announced, the latter company didn’t have nearly as many high-profile projects in production as it does now. Given the massive success of in-house projects like Stranger Things in recent years, the decision by Netflix to begin moving away from shows it doesn’t wholly own makes sense — just as much sense as Disney’s decision to consolidate properties it owns on its own streaming platform, in fact.

Keeping all of that in mind, it might be wise for fans of the Marvel-Netflix series to hope for the best, but expect the imminent end of the companies’ grand experiment. The third season of Daredevil is available now, and it’s been one of the series’ best, while new seasons of Punisher and Jessica Jones will hopefully send both series out on a similarly high note if they don’t continue beyond those story arcs.

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