While the canceling of Daredevil on Netflix was a bitter pill to swallow, it wasn't a surprising one. That's not a reflection of the fan and critical reception -- which were both highly positive -- but the writing seemed to be on the wall before the third season even began due the cancellations of Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
With so many conflicting reports emerging as to what happened and who's to blame, one piece of information is very noteworthy, and it's that Daredevil remained one of the streaming service's most popular shows. If that's the case, then why would Netflix see fit to cancel it? Well, it comes down to a couple things -- the streaming service's future plans and a matter of timing.
Netflix's superhero universe simply isn't going to be Marvel-centric. In retrospect, the Millarworld acquisition should have been the first sign of this, and now with news that Netflix is ramping up production on Jupiter's Legacy and Mark Millar's other properties, such as Huck and Empress, it's obvious the service wanted its own content with full control, not something they'd have to go back and forth with Marvel on.
Now, publicly available data suggests Daredevil shed more than half its viewership between the first and second seasons, and we can admit that lukewarm receptions to the likes of Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders probably resulted in folks staying away from Daredevil. But ultimately, no matter whether Daredevil succeeded or not, Netflix was already looking past the show.
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Sure, the Millarworld purchase was a nice couch for Netflix to fall back on, but one could deduce the end of the Marvel partnership was nigh based on whispers of discord between Marvel TV and Marvel Studios, as well as disagreements with Netflix itself over things like the lengths of the seasons of shows. It's said Marvel TV insisted on 13 episodes, while Netflix wanted to go down to six or eight, so that alone presents a serious dispute. Daredevil was the only one that managed to work, no matter the season length, but the other shows, not so much. At this point, even though Daredevil stood out, you can't help but feel it just ended up being collateral damage as Netflix wanted a partnership less complex and convoluted, ergo why the time came to clear house.
After all, it's not one or the other; the deal is for all these Marvel properties. Maybe Netflix felt that once Disney+ was announced, it'd be a matter of time before these shows were taken there. Or maybe Disney offering their own steaming service meant it was time to part ways with a competitor to protect Netflix's own brand integrity -- which makes it so ironic that Disney+ doesn't want anything to do with these shows. That said, Netflix's brand strength is strong and backed by Millarworld, as well as the original content it has on tap. It can survive without Marvel, as its growing global subscription indicates, thus giving the platform the confidence to fly solo.