Marvel and Netflix executives and showrunners have been asked the same question a lot lately. Will the Defenders characters appearing in the Marvel series on Netflix – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist – ever appear in film?
One thing we know is that they’re contractually obligated to, if they’re ever asked. Daredevil star Charlie Cox revealed that much when Daredevil premiered, saying “It’s in my contract that if they want me to do it, I’m there, and I would love that.” It’s probably safe to say that the other Defenders series leads have similar clauses in their contracts, though we don’t know that for certain.
Kevin Feige himself has said that a crossover was “inevitable,” but that doesn’t mean anytime soon. As Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb put it, these kinds of major crossovers have to be “earned.”
“We have to earn that. The audience needs to understand who all of these characters are and what the world is before you then start co-mingling in terms of where it’s going.”
You don’t want random costumed vigilantes popping up left and right, for no real reason other than crossover for the sake of crossover. Some fans were disappointed that Matt Murdock didn’t bump into Jeri Hogarth in Jessica Jones, but I’m glad. There are a lot of lawyers in New York City, and to have two of the three whose names we know trip over each other would only make the Marvel Universe feel smaller. This feeling would be even more true if Iron Man and Thor did periodic flybys in the background of shots on Daredevil, or even Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
As Captain America: Civil War director Anthony Russo pointed out recently, connecting projects of this magnitude is complicated. Right now, the Marvel movieS are telling one, grand, serialized story, while the Netflix series are telling their own, and those stories aren’t necessarily being told by the same people. To have them meet up at just the right time would be almost a miracle of scheduling and management.
It’s complicated. When we start to serialize the telling of stories it’s difficult. You have to have a lot of control and focus on the course of history. The films are controlled by a group led by Kevin Feige, so they function as a unit. Other products, even if they are from Marvel, are controlled by others. Then there is the possibility of a crossover, but it’s more complicated. It is a smaller scale version of the problem that exists when remembering that Fox holds the rights to some of Marvel’s most popular characters, as does Sony and others. As storytellers, we only have control over what happens in Marvel movies, but everything is possible, Spider-Man (whose rights were held by Sony) became possible!
The short of it is that anything is possible, but it’s a very complicated thing to make happen, and almost equally as hard to justify narratively. As such, I wouldn’t expect the Avengers and Defenders to touch base with each other until at least the currently planned slate of films and TV shows, ending with Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 and Defenders, have run their course. Maybe then Marvel Studios and the Netflix TV wing can sync up and plan for a more communal future.