Marvel’s Netflix and avoiding past mistakes on Disney Plus

Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+.
Elizabeth Olsen is Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany is Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. /

Marvel’s live-action TV series have gone through some serious ups and downs over the past several years, with both being encapsulated by the company’s former relationship with Netflix.

Marvel’s Netflix series were, for the most part, great but their overall distance from the larger MCU damaged the narrative. The longer those shows went on, the more fans started asking how the events happening on Netflix could exist in such an odd bubble.

Now that Disney Plus is on the verge of jumping into the live-action Marvel series pool with WandaVision, that core mistake needs to be avoided at all costs. And just because these new series will feature Marvel Cinematic Universe characters doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a disconnect from the larger MCU.

Marvel’s Netflix by the numbers

In October 2013, Marvel announced that they were working on four series based on their comic book characters to shop around to different streaming services. The eventual outcome of this process was signing a deal with Netflix, one that would prove to be beneficial to both sides

It was Daredevil that started it all, the first series in the partnership between the two companies. This was a grittier, more brutal version of Marvel than depicted in the MCU films, and this series set the tone for everything that fans could expect from the rest of the Netflix world.

Between April 2015 and June 2019, 13 seasons of different TV series featuring several street level heroes and villains were produced. Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Punisher all received rave reviews. Iron Fist and The Defenders, not so much.

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For the most part, fans ate all of Marvel’s Netflix series up. Each one of them struck a chord in their own way, particularly Jessica Jones and The Punisher. Since the end of this partnership, fans have pushed for Jon Bernthal to continue playing Punisher if the opportunity ever comes up again.

The end of Marvel’s Netflix era

With Disney Plus on the way, it quickly became obvious to everyone that the time of Marvel’s Netflix series was coming to an end. Final seasons of several of them played out, with the last one being Jessica Jones Season 3.

Marvel, Daredevil
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 10: Actor Charlie Cox attends the “Daredevil” Season 2 premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on March 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/Getty Images) /

Cancellations began in October 2018 with Iron Fist, the least liked of all of the series and characters involved in these shows. The first season had a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sadly, the 55% Season 2 got was actually a drastic improvement. As it turns out, a key element in a show about a master of Kung Fu is casting an lead actor who knows even a little Kung Fu.

The cancellations blindsided the producers of the series. Many of the individual stories were incomplete, as was the overall arc through the combined series. It was an untimely and unfortunate end to some incredible TV. Again, except for Iron Fist.

While Marvel’s Netflix series weren’t perfect and had their problems, there was still one issue that plagued them all as they went on. To be specific, it was the absence of any substantial connection to the greater MCU.

Movies versus TV

A big part of what makes the MCU films work is how interconnected they are. Different characters show up in each others’ films, building a strong overall narrative. It’s taken years to create this universe, and the dozens and dozens of characters in it.

Marvel’s Netflix series were technically part of the MCU. Events that happened in the movies had somewhat of an impact on what happened in these series. That was evidenced by Daredevil Season 1 as the Kingpin used the aftermath of the first Avengers film to seize power.

Marvel, Daredevil, Wilson Fisk, Vincent D'Onofrio
Photo Credit: Marvel’s Daredevil/Netflix /

For the most part, the movies seemed unaware of this entire group heroes running around New York, fighting supervillains. At first, this wasn’t really an issue but the incongruity of this grew as time went on. It’s hard to believe that an army of ninjas could descend on New York and fight superheroes without the Avengers taking notice.

Even less believable was the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t seem to care. This is an organization that keeps tabs on every super powered individual on Earth. For some reason, that didn’t include the Netflix heroes. Heroes who live in New York like Spider-Man were also unaware.

If nothing else, one would have expected that Captain America would have taken an interest in a madman spraying down large part of NYC with bullets. The fact that he never faced off against Punisher is a huge missed opportunity.

Allegedly, the reasons for this were all behind the scenes. The decision was made to keep the two worlds separate, despite the fact they were both in the MCU. If Marvel’s Netflix series had continued, that divide would have just gotten bigger and harder for fans to deal with.

Disney Plus gets in the game

Once Disney Plus started to become an actual thing, their exclusive offerings came into focus. Their first big series was The Mandalorian, which has recently started Season 2. But that was their foray in to the Star Wars universe. Multiple live-action Marvel series have also been announced.

The first will be WandaVision, which is currently scheduled to drop in December 2020. It will focus on Scarlet Witch and Vision, and could be the source of some huge changes in the MCU. That will only be the case if there’s interplay between the movies and films.

That should hopefully be the case as the powers behind the scenes are more coordinated and on the same page this time. But that’s also not a guarantee. Given the mystical nature of the Scarlet Witch’s powers, Doctor Strange appearing would make sense. It’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t but it would deepen the connection between the formats.

A missing connection wasn’t an immediate issue for the MCU films and Marvel’s Netflix series. That problem built up over time. If Marvel’s Disney Plus series are too isolated from the movies, that disconnect will grow once again and alter people’s enjoyment of the shows. All it takes to combat this is making sure one impacts the other in some way.

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Do you think the Marvel Netflix shows should have been more directly-related to the MCU? Let us know in the comments below!