When The Rights To Each Of THE DEFENDERS Return To Marvel And What Might Come Next For Them

We recently celebrated the five-year anniversary of Daredevil's debut, but we're now looking at when the rights to each of The Defenders return to Marvel Studios and what the future may hold in store...

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Way back in 2013, Marvel and Netflix announced a partnership to bring The Defenders to the small screen. Rather than being made up of heroes like the Silver Surfer and The Hulk, this version of the team would include Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. 

It quickly became clear that Kevin Feige wasn't overly involved with the development of these shows, and as time passed, it became clear that the less capable hands of Jeph Loeb weren't good enough to result in adventures anywhere near as successful as what we were seeing in theaters. When the inevitable cancellations came, no one was overly surprised. 

They were, however, disappointed. After all, we're talking about some great characters here, but after a two-year grace period with Netflix, the rights to all of them will soon be back in the hands of Marvel Studios. Now, we're exploring what those dates are, and delving into the future of these heroes.

To take a look through this feature, all you guys need to do is click on the "Next" button below!
 

Iron Fist - October 12th, 2020

The first season of Iron Fist started off strong, but quickly proved to be a disappointment. Danny Rand never really managed to master his own powers, while the closest we got to a costume was...a hoodie. A compelling cliffhanger never really went anywhere thanks to The Defenders, and season two ended up being somehow even worse.

Again, it started off well as Iron Fist got something a little closer to his comic book costume and the fact he finally seemed to know how to use his abilities (rather than his fist running out of "power" every time he used it). 

He lost them almost immediately, of course, and spent most of the second season running around as a regular martial artist again. When the time came for Netflix to axe the series, no one really cared, but he's now going to be the first of these characters to potentially receive a "reboot" at the hands of Marvel Studios...
 

Iron Fist - What Comes Next?

The most logical place for Iron Fist to make his return is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Production has been delayed, so Marvel Studios could find a way to include him - if they haven't already - and, if nothing else, we're expecting some sort of reference to K'un-L'un.

Iron Fist never even gave us a proper look at Shou-Lao, the dragon who Iron Fist gained his powers from, but with Fin Fang Foom rumoured to appear in this film, the door is surely open to them being linked in some way? 

If nothing else, Marvel Studios can take advantage of regaining the rights to Iron Fist by mining some of the character's lore, even if a return to the big screen isn't a priority for now.
 

Luke Cage - October 19th, 2020

The first half of Luke Cage's debut season was superb, largely thanks to Mahershala Ali's Cottonmouth. Things all got a bit silly thanks to Diamondback's introduction, but the show's second year more than made up for that with a memorable performance from Mustafa Shakir as Bushmaster.

Unfortunately, Luke Cage's time on Netflix lasted only two seasons, and things wrapped up on a major - and controversial - cliffhanger as the Hero for Fire became Harlem's new crime lord.

It was a strange decision, and one which a third batch of episodes was presumably going to deal with. However, can we really expect Marvel Studios to resolve that in any way, shape, or form?
 

Luke Cage - What Comes Next?

Power Man is a character with unlimited potential, especially if he's paired with Iron Fist for a proper Heroes for Hire movie. Something like that has all the makings of a box office hit, and it's an idea Marvel Television and Netflix failed to ever really capitalise on in a meaningful way.

Mike Colter did a great job as Luke Cage, but there are arguably actors out there better suited to the role, and so we wouldn't be remotely surprised to see him ultimately recast in the MCU. 

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is rumoured to be exploring African American "super soldiers," but the dates don't really work out for Luke Cage to be referenced in any sort of meaningful way there unless it's in a later episode. Hawkeye might be a good fit for the hero as we're following street-level superheroes, but Luke could very well end up sitting on the shelf for a while. 
 

Daredevil - November 29th, 2020

There were some minor niggles (why couldn't he just have the familiar "DD" logo on his costume?), but the first season of Daredevil was one of the best superhero TV shows we've seen. Season two did a great job with The Punisher and dropped the ball on Elektra and The Hand, especially after she was killed off in a weirdly casual way in the finale. 

Season three bounced back with a quality batch of episodes, though, and while it wasn't the smartest idea to take Daredevil's costume from him, watching the Man Without Fear clash with both The Kingpin and Bullseye in a loose adaptation of "Born Again" was great fun.

It was a shame the latter didn't don his comic book costume, of course, and the show always frustrated by never fully embracing the source material. Daredevil was a breakout star in this corner of the Marvel Universe, though, and he surely has to have a bright future in the MCU...
 

Daredevil - What Comes Next?

In an ideal world, Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock would be the lawyer who represents Spider-Man in the web-slinger's next movie and helps clear his name after Mysterio framed him for murder. 

We're not sure how likely that is to happen, especially as a clean slate could be what's best for the Man Without Fear at this stage. On the other hand, why would you not want to take advantage of Cox's version of Matt and Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk in the wider MCU? 

A reboot along the lines of The Incredible Hulk seems like the most logical option, and if not Spider-Man 3, then Daredevil should definitely be given his own movie or cameo in She-Hulk!
 

The Punisher - February 18th, 2021

After an incredible performance in Daredevil season two, no one complained when Jon Bernthal was given his own series as The Punisher. Initially, it felt like something of a step backwards for the gun-toting vigilante as he ditched the skull logo and got embroiled in an overly, and unnecessarily, convoluted conspiracy theory about the murder of his family.

It was an entertaining first season, but arguably not the right direction to take Frank Castle in. 

Season two was a disappointment, and The Punisher soon found itself as little more than a mediocre crime drama which definitely failed to do the comic books justice. Micro was somewhat fun to spend time with, while Jigsaw was only ever okay thanks to a stellar Ben Barnes, but we definitely wanted to spend more time with Frank. 
 

The Punisher - What Comes Next?

Ultimately, The Punisher is a character who would benefit from starring in an R-Rated movie. However, he could work in a PG-13 setting, similar to characters like The Winter Soldier and Deadpool (Once Upon A Deadpool was a huge success). 

Moon Knight crossing paths with Frank Castle makes perfect sense, while the vigilante taking aim at Spider-Man as he once did in the comic books also adds up now he's considered a criminal. Unfortunately, the dates don't really work out for the latter scenario, but The Punisher initially being used in a supporting role is something which feels likely for Marvel Studios. 

After all, just like Daredevil rehabilitated him after some disastrous movies, it's now going to be up to them to make up for some of Netflix's mistakes...we just hope Bernthal is able to help with that!
 

Jessica Jones - February 18th, 2021

The first season of Jessica Jones was excellent. While it ignored the character's comic book origins (there was no sign of Jewel, for example, aside from a fleeting Easter Egg), the drunken P.I.'s battle against The Purple Man made for compelling, and often quite horrible, viewing. 

Season two was nowhere near as good as the first as Jessica spent thirteen episodes battling her deranged mother and a watered down version of Nuke, while the less said about the third, the better. 

It was a great shame that things went downhill so rapidly, especially when Krysten Ritter was so damn good, but no one shed a tear over the show's cancellation after the underwhelming third year. Marvel Studios has to wait slightly longer to use Jessica in the MCU, but will they want to?
 

Jessica Jones - What Comes Next?

This is a tough one to call. Looking ahead to the future of the MCU, Jessica Jones is a character who could play a supporting role in everything from the next Spider-Man movie to shows like Moon Knight and She-Hulk (lawyer Jennifer Walters might need some help from a P.I.).

Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine this happening. In many ways, that first season did everything that can be done with the character, and it's not like there are a lot of comic book stories to mine.

There are a number of alternatives who have yet to receive the live-action treatment, and Marvel Studios risks retreading old ground with the reluctant hero at this point. With that in mind, we don't expect to see her back on the small (or big) screen for a very long time to come. 
 

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