Ever since it was announced that Daredevil was not going to return for a fourth season there has been a popular narrative forming about the Marvel-Netflix shows. So far four [Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, The Defenders] of the six shows have been canceled with Jessica Jones and The Punisher seemingly spared because they still have seasons filmed that haven't come out yet.
Most people have been blaming Disney and Marvel for the cancellations saying that the company is clearing house before they launch their own streaming service, Disney+, next year. However, people might be blaming the wrong company. A tweet by co-executive producer Sam Ernest seems to imply that Netflix is the one canceling these shows and not Marvel/Disney.
Had a last lunch yesterday with the Daredevil writers. Sushi provided by our Captain, @erikoleson. Marvel execs there too, just as stunned as we were. More than lunch, really: a wake. A show gets cancelled, all those characters we love die. Why I hate my job. Why I love it, too.
— Sam Ernst (@havensam) December 1, 2018
This is by no means a confirmation that Netflix is the one killing these shows but it isn't that surprising. They've been on a downward slide for several years now with ratings and even quality. They never really recovered from Iron Fist or The Defenders being kind of letdowns. There were some improvements such as Iron Fist getting a stronger but still not great season two but, overall, the latter seasons of most of the shows [with Daredevil season 3 being the exception] were not as good as the first.
There is also the fact that Netflix could be cleaning house because they don't want to pay licensing to a company that they will be directly competing with the streaming market. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and even Daredevil to an extent were not huge properties when this partnership was announced five years ago. The costs of licensing for each new season could have gone up considerably.
There is a good chance we won't ever really know who is to blame for this but these shows were never going to last forever. We got some really solid TV out of the Marvel-Netflix partnership and we still have The Punisher season two and Jessica Jones season three to look forward to.