- Netflix recently canceled two of its Marvel shows, "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist."
- Since Netflix doesn't release viewership numbers, we don't know for sure if it was due to lack of interest.
- But it's also possible that it's due to Disney's upcoming streaming service, which is expected to launch next year — the same year that Disney is ending its contract with Netflix.
- Disney has said it has no plans to move Marvel shows from Netflix, but as Disney prepares to enter the streaming wars, maybe it's changed its mind.
- Disney is also reportedly developing its own Marvel TV shows more closely connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Netflix's Marvel line-up has been abruptly trimmed.
"Iron Fist," the most critically panned of the shows, was the first casualty. Despite an improved second season this year, Netflix canceled it earlier this month. More surprising was the cancellation of "Luke Cage" that swiftly followed, a show that received much better critical reception than "Iron Fist" in its two seasons.
There could be a number of reasons for why Netflix decided to ax the two shows. Since the streaming giant doesn't release concrete viewership numbers, we don't know for sure whether it was due to a lack of interest. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, "Luke Cage" was canceled "due to creative differences and the inability to agree to terms for a third season of the show."
But there's another potential reason looming over the cancellations.
Disney, which owns Marvel, is preparing to launch its own Disney-branded Netflix competitor late next year, and Disney is ending its contract with Netflix starting in 2019. The New York Times reported in August that all films that Disney releases to theaters will move to the Disney streaming platform starting with March's "Captain Marvel."
A Disney spokesperson told The Times that it had no plans to move Netflix's Marvel shows to the streaming service. But what if its plans have changed?
The Disney service will already face complications at launch, including the fact that it won't have Disney's full library of content due to licensing agreements, such as classic "Star Wars" movies. In a report last week, Barclays analysts predicted this to be a problem for the streaming service, as it will have to work through licensing agreements "in order to have enough critical mass of content."
If Disney's streaming library will already be hindered, then it may not want to give Netflix any more of its content than it has to. That could lead to complicated negotiations for Netflix.
Disney is also reportedly developing Marvel shows for its service already that would spin-off of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and star the likes of Loki, Scarlet Witch, and more. Netflix canceling its Marvel shows would avoid confusion, and competition, with Disney's Marvel shows at the very least.
In the best case scenario for Disney, though, the Netflix shows would be moved to the Disney streaming service and possibly be integrated with its own shows. The Netflix Marvel shows are already loosely connected to the MCU, and Disney may see an opportunity to fill its content out even more.
At this point, we don't know the fate of Netflix's remaining Marvel series.
"Daredevil" is attracting high praise in its recently released third season. The second season of "Jessica Jones" was well received this year, too. And "The Punisher" wrapped filming its second season this summer.
Those shows could be safe (for now), especially because they are darker than usual MCU fare. But there's also plenty of reason to believe Disney could try and grab its Marvel shows back from Netflix to bolster its own service.
Read more of Business Insider's coverage of Disney's upcoming streaming service:
- Disney faces major hurdles as it takes on Netflix
- Morgan Stanley predicted how Disney's Netflix competitor will fare in the streaming wars
- The live-action 'Star Wars' TV show is officially called 'The Mandalorian'
- Disney is reportedly developing Marvel TV shows for its upcoming streaming service
- Disney's upcoming streaming service likely won't have its full catalog at launch, notably lacking classic 'Star Wars' movies