The End of an Era for the Defenders. What’s next?

In 2015, Netflix started something new and different that became a runaway hit. Daredevil was the first of several planned series, followed by Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Defenders (which brought those four together with their supporting casts), and then a fifth unplanned series as Jon Bernthal excelled so well in his appearance on Daredevil’s second season as the Punisher. At first, there was no real doubt that the Defenders were part of the MCU, just off on their own. Then, as time passed and rights issues reared their heads, it seemed like the divide between the MCU movies and the assorted tv shows grew wider and wider.

The series were good to great (yeah, I’m the one guy that liked Iron Fist) and they built a fantastic, interconnected world with tight continuity and a lot of crossovers of various kinds. As events in the movies gained momentum, there were a lot of rumors about the Defenders showing up in some form in Avengers: Endgame. Sadly, that never came to pass, and it seemed like the shows were exiled to their own little world, moreso as the series were cancelled (why has been the source of a lot of rumors and debate).

Finally, Netflix’s rights agreement ran out, and new rumors swirled. Some of the characters would be in the movies. Others would be on the assorted Disney+ shows. Most of those were things I wanted to believe, but didn’t quite. Then, in the same week, Kingpin showed up in the Hawkeye series, and Matt Murdock got a cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home. That same week, Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios made a statement that, if Daredevil were to appear in the MCU, Charlie Cox would return on the role.

So, at the very least, Daredevil and his archenemy have made the jump to the “main” MCU. Rumors once again abound about the other characters and actors. Will Jessica Jones be on She-Hulk? Will Iron Fist turn up in Shang-Chi (no, sadly)? I’ve heard that Punisher might, in some way, show up in Moon Knight, the next scheduled Disney+ series. Charlie Cox has made some vague statements that make it sound like he, at least, will turn up again in future projects. The world (and more) shattering events of No Way Home make it possible that any or all of these characters could turn up somewhere in the MCU.

The most recent development is that the Netflix series are leaving that platform. There wasn’t an announcement, per se, it was more something people noticed that started making the rounds in social media. There’s an assumption that the series will eventually migrate to either Disney+ or Hulu, where the more mature themed content is supposed to end up. Once again, rumors swirl that the series will be continued, or relaunched, or rebooted, on one of those networks. Or some of them will be. Many of the actors have said they’d love to return to their roles, especially Cox (Daredevil), D’Onofrio (Kingpin) and Bernthal (Punisher). It’s commonly assumed that Iron Fist, the least popular series, would either not return or be recast.

While a lot of these could be great to see, the important thing to remember is none of them are confirmed. We don’t know what’s going to happen to any of these series. It seems a safe bet we’ll see more of Charlie Cox, and probably D’Onofrio. Bernthal is certainly interested in coming back, if his criteria are met. We’ll just have to wait and see. Where, or if, these series end up landing, should be very telling. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.