Netflix's Marvel TV universe is dead, and it's unlikely the shows will be saved by Disney

defenders marvel&quotThe Defenders"Netflix

  • Netflix canceled its remaining Marvel shows, "The Punisher" and "Jessica Jones," on Monday.
  • Despite a loyal fanbase, it's unlikely for the shows, as we know them, to be revived elsewhere.
  • Both Disney+ and Hulu are developing Marvel series that are heading in a different direction.
  • Data provided to Business Insider showed how the Netflix shows had also lost their audience over time.

Netflix's Marvel television universe officially died Monday when the streaming giant canceled its remaining Marvel shows, "The Punisher" and "Jessica Jones." The third and final season of "Jessica Jones" will still be released later this year.

The cancellations were expected given that Netflix axed three other Marvel shows last year. "Luke Cage," "Iron Fist," and "Daredevil" all premiered new seasons in 2018, but were all abruptly canceled over the span of a month. Not even great reviews could save "Daredevil" (its third season has a 96% Rotten Tomatoes critic score).

READ MORE: Netflix canceled 'The Punisher' and 'Jessica Jones,' but the Marvel TV shows were doomed a long time ago

After "Daredevil's" cancellation, an online campaign called #SaveDaredevil launched a Change.org petition to revive the show that now has nearly 260,000 signatures, a Twitter account with over 3,900 followers, and a website where fans can keep up to date on the "movement."

But the loyal fanbase may not be enough to save "Daredevil," or its Marvel counterparts.

The official word is that the decision to cancel the shows was out of Marvel's hands.

"It's an unfortunate reality to any relationship between a network and a studio in that the network always has the right at any time to cancel a show," Marvel Television executive producer Jeph Loeb told Indiewire prior to "The Punisher's" cancellation. "I think we've made it very clear, that this is not our call. This is Netflix's call."

daredevil punisher&quotDaredevil" season 2Netflix

Data provided to Business Insider suggested that flagging audience demand was one reason Netflix pulled the plug. Interest in the shows had dropped significantly since their first seasons. A social-media analysis by Crimson Hexagon in October, after "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist" were canceled, showed that online buzz for them, and "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones," had dropped dramatically over time.

Viewership for the second season of "The Punisher," which was released last month, fell 40% in its first weekend compared to the first season in 2017, according to analytics company Jumpshot.

Loeb hinted that the shows could live on after "The Punisher" and "Jessica Jones" were canceled. In a letter to fans, he wrote, "Our Network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters... but you know Marvel better than that. As Matthew Murdock's Dad once said, 'The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it's how he gets back up.' To be continued...!"

READ MORE: Gwyneth Paltrow, who had never seen an 'Avengers' movie before 'Infinity War,' will exit the Marvel Cinematic Universe after 'Endgame'

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the shows will be resurrected, even with Marvel owner Disney launching its own Netflix competitor this year, Disney+. If anything, the characters could return, but there's no guarantee they would be revived as the same interpretations. And there is a growing foundation of Marvel TV being laid that these shows would no longer fit into.

Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-off series are being developed for Disney+, including a Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston. The Netflix Marvel shows were loosely connected to the MCU, but never fully embraced it. Disney+ will likely focus on all-ages content to better support the Disney brand, and the Netflix Marvel shows as we know them don't adhere to that brand or the MCU. They were too mature and violent for the larger franchise, which made Netflix the perfect place for them - until audiences drifted away.

loki thor ragnarokTom Hiddleston as Loki in &quotThor: Ragnarok"Marvel Studios

Disney will also own the majority of Hulu once the Fox merger is complete, and Hulu is developing Marvel shows of its own, all of which will be adult animated series: "Howard the Duck," "M.O.D.O.K.." "Hit-Monkey," and "Tigra & Dazzler," which will lead to a crossover special, "The Offenders."

If this sounds familiar, it's because it's similar to what Netflix did with its Marvel shows. "Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist," and "Luke Cage" resulted in the crossover series, "The Defenders."

Hulu's senior vice president of originals, Craig Erwich, told The Wrap that he was open to Hulu expanding its relationship with Marvel.

"It kind of just depends on when they're ready, [and] who, most importantly, is going to be behind these things," he said. "We've had a relationship with Marvel since 'Runaways,' we're getting into business on these animated shows. I'm sure it will lead to - you know, business gets you business - we have a good creative relationship with them. That's where opportunities tend to arise."

But, as with Disney+, the direction Hulu's Marvel series are heading doesn't indicate that Netflix's Marvel shows would fit alongside them. Fans should be prepared for Netflix's Marvel shows to stay dead.

Read more of Business Insider's coverage of Netflix's Marvel shows:

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