Daredevil Season 3

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: let’s read between the lines of Marvel’s statement about Daredevil and learn how to speak publicist.)

Every few years, something happens in the world of superhero entertainment that requires…massaging. Maybe a rumor crops up about casting or a character’s fate. Maybe a director or a writer drops out of a project. Maybe an entire series implodes unexpectedly. But the very nature of superhero films being based on decades of source material that is easily accessible means studios have had to thread a very small needle to keep their secrets.

Enter the publicist. Ostensibly a job that is half herding cats and half schmoozer, the true core of being a great publicist is to be an accomplished liar. This is a compliment. The words publicists put forth are in the public forever and will be parsed immediately by fans and journalists alike. Good PR hugs the wall of truth as it slides past a chasm of bald-faced lies.

Marvel, in particular, in all of their various forms and studios and divisions, is a master of lies. They lied about the title of Avengers: Endgame for months. They even went so far as to put a whole fake Hulk in the trailer for Infinity War rather than let on that Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) would be in the Hulkbuster suit. So when they released a statement about the cancellation of Netflix’s Daredevil, it helps to have a Publicist-Whisperer on deck to explain what they really mean.

Luckily, I am a Publicist-Whisperer. But I don’t expect you to just believe me. Here is my most prized example as evidence of my powers. Back in 2014, Michael Douglas took the stage at San Diego Comic-Con and gave a very vague and PR-approved statement about the status of Janet Van Dyne during the Ant-Man panel:

“But unfortunately during this process [of becoming Ant-Man], a tragic personal accident happened with [Pym”s] wife [and] daughter.”

At the time, I wrote an article basically telling the #JanetVanCrime people to calm the hell down because nowhere in that statement did Douglas say she was dead. Cut to 2017 and lo and behold, Michelle Pfeiffer joined the cast of Ant-Man and the Wasp as the not-dead Janet.

With my credentials in place, we need to talk about Netflix’s Daredevil. Specifically, we need to talk about its cancelation, despite being the fourth largest draw for Netflix. At the time of death, Marvel released a statement about Daredevil that reads like the world’s nicest ghosting. Let’s break this down line-by-line, shall we?

daredevil and karen
WHAT THEY SAID: “Marvel is extremely grateful to the huge audience that loved Marvel’s Daredevil.”

TRANSLATION: Marvel knows DAREDEVIL has a huge fan base, so they open their obiturary with some old-fashioned buttering up. Marvel respects the overwhelming popularity of this show they are putting in the grave. Please don’t be mad. It’s simply business.

WHAT THEY SAID: “From the moment of young Matt’s first act of heroism to the birth of Page, Murdock, & Nelson, it has been an unbelievable journey.”

TRANSLATION: Marvel is pleased with the narrative arc of the show and can’t believe how popular an M-Rated superhero show was. Again, this isn’t personal.

WHAT THEY SAID: “We are incredibly proud of the amazing showrunners and writers starting with Drew Goddard and Steven DeKnight, Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie and Erik Oleson, Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vincent D’Onofrio and our casts who brought our characters to life with such excellence, and every one of the fantastic crews in NYC.”

TRANSLATION: We respect all the hard work everyone put into this show. Please don’t break contract and air behind-the-scenes dirty laundry.

WHAT THEY SAID: “We look forward to more adventures with the Man without Fear in the future.”

TRANSLATION: Remember how I said they were buttering up the fans? That butter is to help cold, stark reality slide down our collective gullet a little easier. Because this sentence is a death blow via precision vagueness. The key is in what Marvel/Disney isn’t saying. They aren’t looking forward to working with Charlie Cox in the future. They are looking forward to the continuing adventures of Daredevil. At some point. In the nebulous future.

daredevil vs bullseye

I’m sorry, y’all but this version of Daredevil is dead and it’s not coming back. Still in denial? Let’s look at some other context clues.

First of all, there’s Netflix’s own statement, which mirrors the precision vagueness of Marvel’s.

“[…] while the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel.”

Again, they promise the character will return, not the actor.

Then you look at what Marvel shows has Disney announced for their upcoming streaming services. So far, three have been announced. There will a show about on Scarlet Witch and The Vision, one based on Loki, and one built around The Winter Soldier and Falcon. The big draw for these shows is that they will star the same actors that play the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a relative first for Marvel, who has a long history of keeping thick walls between their film and television division. Disney is signaling a turning point in their content, one where film and television are interwoven instead of tacked-on like an afterthought.

That on its own might not but enough to put the final nail in the Daredevil coffin, but consider this. In what universe would Disney put M-Rated content on their sparkling new family-friendly streaming service? Part of the reason Netflix picked up the “street-level” heroes was to put some grit on the Marvel brand. Grit and Disney do not mix. They have never once put out an R-Rated film under their banner, delegating more adult content to subsidiary companies. Nothing falling under the umbrella of Disney is going to have bloody fights, much less a show intro drenched in blood.

All of this adds up to bad new: Daredevil, in this incarnation, is not coming back. Disney and Marvel are letting the fandom down gently, with vague truths that can be perceived as hope if you squint. But instead of hoping for an announcement that Daredevil will return via Disney’s streaming service, fans should probably be girding themselves for the inevitable: Jessica Jones and The Punisher are dead shows walking.

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