Since Iron Man (2008), Marvel has had a careful plan for each storyline and character brought to life on the big screen. The same is true for its Netflix shows: the original plan was to launch individual shows for each hero (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist), and then make a spin-off show based on their team-up (Defenders). It was a slow world-building process, mimicking Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, after a semi-successful team-up, there was still one big question: what would be the next move for these local heroes of New York City?
Apparently, it’s the end of the road for some of them.
Iron Fist was canceled October 12 and Luke Cage followed a week later. Lots of theories have been thrown around—many citing Iron Fist’s terrible critic reviews and Luke Cage’s writers having creative differences—but Marvel has yet to provide an explanation or reveal the future for these characters.
If you’re currently panicking about these latest cancellations, or you’re anxious about the remaining shows, I’ve got you covered. As a lover of mysteries and Marvel, I have my fair share of theories.
Theory #1: It’s the end of the road for Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
How Likely Is it?: Not highly. Back when Iron Fist was canceled, Netflix issued a statement saying that, although the show was canceled, the immortal Iron Fist lives on. That sparked an initial theory that he would be in Luke Cage instead, given that Iron Fist (Finn Jones) has a closer relationship with Luke (Mike Colter) than with any other Defender. But then Luke Cage’s cancellation came along.
According to Marvel, there are still plans for both of them. It seems highly unlikely that they would merely shift them to another pre-existing Netflix series, and the chances of them going to the movie screen are non-existent. So they would have to be moved to another medium. But, at the end of the day, it’s definitely not the last time we’re seeing them.
Theory #2: Marvel is slowly canceling its Netflix shows to bring them back in Disney’s streaming service.
How Likely Is it?: It makes more sense, but I really hope this isn’t the case. For those who don’t know, Disney is planning on launching a streaming service similar to Netflix late 2019. Disney also owns Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Television, which are responsible for most Marvel movies and TV shows (some exceptions, like the X-Men, were produced by FOX—although Disney bought that one too). They announced earlier this year that they would launch series on this streaming service based on Marvel characters, like Loki and Scarlet Witch. Given that, it would make some sense that they would want to remove their affiliations with Netflix and fully focus on only the Disney service.
If this is the case, then it’s the end of the Marvel Netflix shows as we know them. What made the Netflix universe interesting was that Marvel got to explore less kid-friendly storylines and feature more gruesome fight scenes. Daredevil has its fair share of grotesque shots. Jessica Jones deals with issues of consent. Punisher isn’t afraid of portraying violence. What made these shows worth watching was that Marvel could truly explore these characters as they are depicted in the comics without having to worry about going for a more mature rating—and, in a Disney kid-friendly environment, it would mean the death of that.
But, personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This pattern of cancellations has only happened with the Netflix shows. If Marvel truly wanted to bring all shows back to Disney, it would also have affected Agents of Shields (currently at ABC) and its Hulu shows (Runaways and Cloak and Dagger). While it might make sense, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be happening any time soon.
Theory #3: THIS WAS ALL BECAUSE OF THANOS!
How Likely Is It?: I have to be honest with you: I only included this because I saw a meme this morning. A wild fan theory states that the reason why Luke Cage and Iron Fist are gone but not Jessica Jones and Daredevil is because of Thanos’ plan, which would leave the Defenders “perfectly balanced, as all things should be.”
But let’s be real: no. I’ll be the first to admit that having every season after Avengers: Infinity War (2018) be canonically “pre-snap” is a bit of a cop-out, but I don’t think that this has anything to do with Thanos. The whole Thanos deal is just too big, too other-worldly for grounded, local heroes. It might be mentioned as an Easter Egg later on—like the Battle of New York—but it just has no place in these shows.
Theory #4: Luke Cage and Iron Fist are teaming up in Heroes For Hire.
How Likely Is it?: If there was money involved, this is what I would be betting it on. If you’re unfamiliar with the comics, Heroes for Hire is the name of the superhero team-up between Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Luke Cage and Iron Fist have a history of being really good partners, something that was often teased—although never really fulfilled—in Defenders. We saw this possibility of a team-up being brought up again in the second season of Luke Cage when Iron Fist appeared alongside Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). Strategically speaking, a team-up between the two might be what these shows really need, particularly Iron Fist, which never quite managed to get a good villain, much less one that rivaled Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) or Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave (David Tennant). More heroes mean more storylines, source material, and villains, likely resulting in renewed interest in these characters.
As much as I dislike Iron Fist, Finn Jones actually provides the most evidence to support this theory. When Iron Fist was canceled, he made a post on Instagram suggesting that Iron Fist wasn’t gone forever. Once Luke Cage was canceled, he made another post, this time of the iconic scene where Luke Cage blocks one of Iron Fist’s punches. This seemed odd, especially because Finn only used vague emojis in the comments section of the picture. But it prompted many fans to scream in excitement at the possibility of a Heroes for Hire show, and many others to promptly debunk this idea.
Is a measly post of a screenshot enough to support the possibility of a whole new superhero team-up show? Perhaps not, but a girl can dream.