Daredevil was cancelled at Netflix for the most ridiculous reason: Here's why season 4 never happened

Being regarded as one of the best superhero series wasn't enough to guarantee its renewal. Here's why Daredevil season 4 never happened.
Marvel's Daredevil. Image courtesy Netflix
Marvel's Daredevil. Image courtesy Netflix /

When it comes to live-action superhero adaptations, it rarely gets any better than Marvel's Daredevil. The Man Without Fear had a disappointing movie debut back in 2003 with Ben Affleck in the lead. However, that film was rapidly forgotten when Charlie Cox took on the role and saved Hell's Kitchen on the Netflix series. Fans were treated to iconic action scenes, well-thought dialogs, a grim tone that worked in service of the story, and one of Marvel's few unforgettable live-action villains. Even if the quality of the second season wasn't on par with the rest of the show, Marvel's Daredevil still takes the crown as one of the best superhero adaptations ever made.

The third season of the show premiered in 2018 and left things on quite a cliffhanger. Benjamin Poindexter underwent surgery to fix his back, and all signs indicated he'd stop at nothing to get his revenge on both Kingpin and Matt Mudrock. However, fast-forward six years later and audiences are still waiting to watch the resolution of that storyline. Netflix unfortunately canceled Daredevil instead of renewing it for another season, as well as other shows such as Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and The Defenders.

While The Man Without Fear will have a new adaptation set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the form of Daredevil: Born Again, audiences remain skeptical it can be either as popular or as good as its predecessor. So with all of this uncertainty on the air, it's time to ask ourselves: why was the fantastic Netflix show canceled in the first place? Were there just never plans for a fourth season? Or did something more... complicated happen? Well, it's hard to point to just one thing and say it was the only culprit behind the cancelation of Marvel's Daredevil when - in reality - multiple factors led to this decision. But one of the first things to stir things in that unfortunate direction was the end of one specific partnership.

Daredevil's future was shaken by the end of a partnership

In 2012, a collaboration between Disney and Netflix was announced as a multi-year deal meant to last past 2018. Back then there wasn't much competition between different streaming platforms, as Netflix ruled this space by being responsible for 33% of all online traffic during peak periods. The decision to bring Disney content to the streaming giant was a no-brainer that would eventually lead to the creation of Marvel's Daredevil along with other acclaimed superhero series. While Iron Fist was the black sheep of the Marvel Netflix shows, all other projects enjoyed some form of success.

However, in 2017 Disney announced its plans to launch its own streaming service where all of the company's content would be exclusively released. It was the perfect time to do so since the licensing agreements with Netflix were going to expire one year later in 2018. So what started as a partnership would soon shape into a rivalry where both streaming platforms turn into direct competitors.

It was initially disclosed that the Marvel Netflix shows wouldn't be affected by the release of Disney+. But there were already plans from the House of Mouse to make new superhero shows that would take place in the larger MCU and be released on its new streaming platform. Such was the case for WandaVision, to give one example. Needless to say, the end of this partnership put Daredevil's future in a complicated place where Matt Murdock would be even more isolated from other Marvel heroes and stories.

Many believed that conflict was the main cause behind Marvel's Daredevil's cancelation. But while the end of the relationship between Disney and Netflix did play a great part in it, there was also another key factor in play.

Daredevil was too expensive to make

Amy Rutberg - who portrayed the role of Marci Stahl in Marvel's Daredevil - revealed in an interview with Inverse that the decision to cancel Daredevil came purely from Netflix's side and not Disney (who was looking to build its portfolio of series and exclusives for Disney+).

"My contacts at Marvel were very surprised. Any of the rumors that it was a Marvel decision are wrong, I think it was purely a Netflix decision. That comes from personal conversations with people high up at Marvel. They were surprised."

Amy Rutberg

Netflix hasn't given an official reason behind the cancelation of Marvel's Daredevil. Instead, the streaming giant has just settled on praising the superhero show for everything it did during its run. But we can get a little more insight thanks to a report from Variety that revealed Netflix spent more than 200 million dollars on bringing the Marvel heroes to life on the small screen. That's a huge figure that seems like it didn't pay off. After all, the third season of Daredevil brought less than half of the viewers compared to the second season's opening according to Screen Rant.

Perhaps Netflix couldn't justify making a fourth season of the show when there was a 57% decline in viewership between the second and third seasons - especially when taking into account how expensive the show was to produce. Combine that with the fact that Marvel's Daredevil would have to compete directly against the Disney+ Marvel shows such as WandaVision (at a disadvantage, mind you, since Matt Murdock's adventures wouldn't have been a part of the larger MCU), and it's easy to see why the project was axed altogether.

Ultimately, the show's cancelation came due to the combination of all these factors and not just one single reason. That's disappointing, especially since a fourth season was already in the works.

A fourth season was already pitched to Netflix

Erik Oleson, the showrunner of Marvel's Daredevil, revealed that he pitched the fourth season to Netflix. That means there was, at least, a set idea for the series' direction moving forward. While not much about a potential plotline is known, chances are Benjamin Poindexter would've turned into a more comic-accurate version of Bullseye.

A lot of great shows get cancelled long before their time (and many of them don't even get three seasons), but Daredevil has to be one of the most underserving cancellations of its time. The series was critically-acclaimed, it generated so much buzz and it had so much more to give when it came to an end.

Fortunately, it appears the canceled fourth season found a spiritual successor in the form of Daredevil: Born Again. The upcoming Disney+ series will see the return of Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Wilson Bethel as Matt Murdock, Wilson Fisk, and Dex Pointdexter respectively. Additionally, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, and The Punisher are all set to make a return, with actors Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, and Jon Bernthal all reprising their roles. So it appears everything will continue right where it left off regardless of the Netflix cancelation.

Daredevil: Born Again will release on March 2025 on Disney+.

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