Trouble, it seems, is afoot in the Mouse House. Daredevil: Born Again, the reboot of Netflix’s canned Daredevil series, is reportedly getting an overhaul. Marvel didn’t just recast a side character or have someone punch up a script, no. Instead, it dismissed head writers Chris Ord and Matt Corman and is seeking new writers and directors to take the helm, even though several episodes of the series had already been filmed.
The move, per The Hollywood Reporter, came after Marvel execs, including honcho Kevin Feige, saw the completed episodes. Whereas the Netflix series had been gritty and big on action, Born Again played more like a legal procedural, and the bigwigs didn’t like the direction it was taking.
Daredevil’s impending transformation comes at an inflection point for Marvel’s television efforts. Since the studio launched with WandaVision in 2021, its series for Disney+ have had serious highs and deep lows. WandaVision, with its 1950s themes and big multiverse-cracking storylines, got fans excited about the possibilities of Marvel episodic storytelling. Ms. Marvel was extraordinary. Secret Invasion, which launched earlier this year, garnered some of the most lackluster reviews of any Marvel show to date. (It also caused fan uproar after word spread that its opening credits had been made with the assistance of artificial intelligence.) It’s unclear who watched She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, but Loki’s second season—the only second season of any Marvel Disney+ show to date—debuted earlier this month and racked up 10.9 million views in three days, slightly less than the season 3 premiere of The Mandalorian.
Big wins and near misses are part of the television—and Hollywood—game, but such swings are fairly rare for Marvel, which had a near-decade of constant cinematic hits. Much like its studio sibling Star Wars, it almost seemed like Marvel couldn’t lose. But television is different, especially in the age of streaming. The success of modern series comes from gifted showrunners crafting full season-long arcs of series and then almost willing them into existence. The Marvel method is more storytelling-by-committee, with lots of folks weighing in on shows as they’re being produced and then making changes after the fact. What’s happening with Daredevil: Born Again seems to be an indication that this is changing. “We’re trying to marry the Marvel culture with the traditional television culture,” Brad Winderbaum, who heads up Marvel’s streaming efforts, told THR.
Reading between the lines of Winderbaum’s comments, it seems like lots of streamers may be looking to traditional TV culture for guidance. After years of throwing cash at shows to beef up their subscriber numbers, streamers are tightening their belts, looking for more obvious hits. Warner Bros. Discovery is yanking shows to save money; Netflix has floated the idea of raising prices once the Hollywood actors strike ends (whenever that is). Disney is already pulling things from Disney+ and Hulu. Even if none of the Marvel—or, for that matter, Star Wars—shows end up on the chopping block, it’s becoming clear that Marvel’s Disney+ offerings will be products of a much different TV-making apparatus in the future.
Looking back, it almost seems like a mirage that Netflix ever made Marvel shows—particularly ones that showed complicated heroes like Luke Cage and Jessica Jones engaged in bed-breaking boning. Back when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC was about all the Marvel TV that Disney could handle, Netflix was able to make deals that let it film scenes that never would have made it into an MCU movie. And, Iron Fist notwithstanding, they weren’t bad. The shows were able to make the jump from Netflix to Disney+ mostly unscathed, but the odds that fans will see anything similar in the future seems low. The rollicking days of streaming are fading; it’s all just traditional television culture now.