Home > Opinion > Luke Cage: It’s Probably Not Over Yet

Luke Cage: It’s Probably Not Over Yet

Marvel/Netflix ventures Iron Fist and Luke Cage were axed recently, but there is every possibility they will be eventually coming back on a very new network.

You may have been dismayed about Iron Fist’s cancellation a week ago, and you were probably quite shocked about Luke Cage’s unceremonious canning a few days ago too.

Yet, you would be silly to think this is the very end of such high-profile characters on the small screen, especially when you take into consideration the momentous shifts that are taking place in the entertainment/streaming industry right now.

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It’s no secret that Disney, which owns Marvel and recently acquired substantial Fox properties in a massive $71.3 billion merger, is preparing to launch its own game-changing streaming competitor, Disney Play. These recent major cancellations of Disney/Marvel ventures prove that both parties are now acutely aware of these new stakes, and furthermore, they provide compelling evidence of a momentous difference in the way that Netflix and Disney/Marvel now approach business with each other.

As a direct result of the ever-looming new streaming service, Netflix is pre-emptively looking to break ties and develop its own original shows as Disney now slowly moves from the role of collaborator to that of a fierce competitor. (Netflix is doubling their original content catalogs, and are set to produce more than 250 originals in the next year).

Disney has also begun developing no less than nineteen of its own original series, including a Star Wars series (The Mandalorian – currently in production) which carries a momentous $100 million budget. It is also reportedly readying two original Marvel series (Loki and Scarlet Witch), which could both carry budgets equally as hefty.

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Scarlet Wich and Loki are being prepared for Disney Play. Source: Disney/Marvel

Whether this is good or bad for fandom remains to be seen, but it is inevitable that everything Disney/Marvel will eventually be purged from Netflix; and it will not be surprising in the slightest to see The Defenders, Daredevil and The Punisher get the axe also, and soon.

Netflix has an ongoing deal with Disney for the streaming rights to Marvel, but that deal expires in 2020. This, of course, means that big screen Marvel superheroes will be leaving too. Ant-Man and the Wasp will be the last MCU movies to hit Netflix, and starting with Captain Marvel, Disney Play will be the only place to stream the franchise.

So, what happens next? What about Iron Fist and Luke Cage?

There’s obviously been mammoth amounts of talk on this subject on social media, and serious musings about various Marvel superheroes’ fates spewed forth in the numerous articles that have flooded the internet over the weekend since Cage’s cancellation. To say people are disappointed would be a vast understatement…

What is actually going to happen now is anyone’s guess, but if we were to focus on all the speculation/info gained in the aftermath of this most recent axing, and we assume Disney are actually listening to the fans for once, everything can then be partitioned into three major theories on what could now potentially transpire with these two characters…

  1. Both shows, and whatever else is dropped, will be re-launched on the new Disney streaming service soon after its launch in late 2019.
  2. Luke Cage and Danny Rand will team up together in a spin-off. They will feature in Heroes For Hire, based on a comics series of the same name, which has both characters team up to start a private investigation and superhero protection agency.
  3. Both have been dropped permanently, and we will only see the two together again sparingly, as side-characters in spin-offs, if ever. (In the comics Misty and Colleen join forces for Daughters of the Dragon – and this too has massive spin-off potential).

If you look at things from a ratings/subscription standpoint, rejuvenation of these shows (option 1 or 2) on the new mega-service is an exceptionally real and viable possibility, and would be a very clever play for Disney – as both shows have had a massive viewership.

Iron Fist’s first season got panned by almost everyone, but the second season had the largest increase in approval ratings on Rotten Tomatoes between the first and second season, ever, increasing 33% at the time – and it is also was Netflix’s most highly binge-watched drama two seasons in a row. So think what you want about it – it brings the numbers.

Luke Cage has also had mixed reviews, but none half as damning as Iron Fist. When it aired in 2016 it was the most popular digital series on air, and Netflix’s biggest hit. It was stupendously huge this year too. So why would anyone let that go for good?

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Iron Fist and Cage have done business across various shows several times now. Who’s to say it’s over? Source: Netflix

If there were any ‘creative differences’ happening behind the scenes in either show (as widely reported) – Disney can, and will, simply hire whole new crews pre-production. It’s what Disney does. Quality writers can be commissioned in the blink of an eye, and numerous filmmakers of note will line up to be the new showrunner of either series in a heartbeat. It may contribute to the show/shows being watered down (true Disney style), but getting them going, once greenlit, will never be an issue.

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All that could be an issue with the relaunch of either show is a lack of hype or lax viewership – rendering them unsalvageable – but neither show, as explained, has ever been even slightly guilty of either, and regardless of anyone’s opinion on quality, both are insanely popular, ticking all the right boxes for a serious rebirthing. Combine this with the ‘mouse house’ potentially bankrolling all aspects of production and promotion, and with something major to prove, and you assuredly have two serious hits on the cards – bigger, better, badder. (Ok, it’s Disney – maybe not badder).

In a nutshell, re-launching canceled, but popular, Marvel content has the potential to substantially diminish Netflix and give the new Disney Play stratospheric gains.

It is assured that there will soon be millions of people weighing up subscribing to Netflix or Disney – on the pure merit of their original content; and for many, where the best superheroes/sci-fi franchises are situated will be a gigantic decider in where they lay their hard-earned cash.

Once the much-loved Marvel small screen heroes are bundled with Star Wars (Lucasfilm), and everything else that Disney owns or has the rights to: Pixar, DreamWorks, Touchstone, Cinergi, Beuena Vista, ABC, A&E, 21st Century Fox (just for starters), we will suddenly have a new juggernaut in subscription streaming. One with unprecedented, ever-growing content of its own, all pre-bought and owned, and with a serious and ongoing takeover of everything agenda.

So, do people want Cage and Danny Rand back in some capacity? If the massive outcry over the last few days is anything to go by, absolutely – and Disney must be listening.

Weighing all this up, you shouldn’t get too discouraged about your favorite New York-based ‘supes’ getting canned lately – it’s very early days. If you are to look at this all from a rational, money-making perspective, the chances of them returning are pretty damn high.

Can you imagine the added hype around Disney Play if they start promoting the re-launch of both series to coincide with their own launch, or soon after? It’ll break the internet.

We have our fingers crossed that both Iron Fist and Luke Cage will be non-lethally crippling criminals again in the back alleys of NYC soonish – but realistically, you’ll probably have to wait a couple of years. It’s not like you weren’t going to wait anyway, right?

We’ll keep you posted.

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