Netflix

Netflix recently announced that Friends was being removed from their streaming service, starting on January 1, 2019. There was a public outcry and that decision was promptly reversed and the 90’s sitcom will now stay on Netflix throughout 2019, thus once again confirming Hollywood’s sneaking suspicion that all they really need to do to make money is pull something off the shelf from twenty years ago, put it in a shiny new package, and sell it to us again. Yet as Marvel and their Defenders learned, there is perhaps only one force in the entertainment industry that can stop even this impulse, and its spelled M-I-C-K-E-Y… Why, because money.

Disney+ Alias No More Marvel
It was also announced last week that Daredevil was to be canceled by Netflix, despite being ranked as the 4th Highest In Demand Series on the streaming service. With Matt Murdock going to the trash heap along with Iron Fist and Luke Cage, the rest of the Marvel lineup is sure to be next. Jessica Jones and the Punisher both have seasons that are currently being filmed or are in post-production, and it is unlikely that the streaming giant will cancel those properties with seasons so near completion, but do not hold your breath for a Jessica Jones season 4 or a Punisher season 3. The writing on the wall has become clear, Netflix is stopping production on all new Marvel content.

Now that is not to say that these five super-powered friends will be leaving your subscription in 2019. No, Netflix still owns the streaming rights, so all 13 season -8,500+ minutes of gritty-street-level-superhero goodness- will still remain on the platform. There just won’t be any new content added. So, the real question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is why? Why would Netflix and Disney choose to end their lucrative deal together? Why would Netflix who owns the shows, but not the heroes themselves, choose to stop making more wonderful Marvel content? The short answer is Disney+… which is a terrible name.

Disney+ will be Disney’s new exclusive online streaming platform, because the House of Mouse will not be content till they dominant all forms of media, entertainment, culture, and several small developing countries. It will debut sometime in late 2019 -which is coincidentally right after the last Marvel season will air on Netflix- and it is going to be a juggernaut. This is not going to be like CBS All Access or some other crappy streaming service created by some low-rate network that got it in their head that people wanted to pay an additional 75 dollars a year so they could have unlimited access to The Big Bang Theory and whatever NCIS they think up next, NCIS: Topeka? No, Disney is pulling all Marvel, Star Wars, Muppet, Pixar, and other properties that they own off the streaming platforms of their new competitors. You do not realize how much content and intellectual property that Disney owns until you start to see all of them disappearing from the streaming services that you are already paying a few hundred-dollars-a-year to watch… or are just using your upstairs neighbor’s password for… Thanks Charlie.

“But wait,” we hear you saying, “didn’t you just say that Netflix owns the Marvel shows, even if it does not own the characters?”

You are paraphrasing, but yes.

Heroes for Hire: Out of Business
Netflix does own the rights to the Defender properties, which means that they can choose to keep making more seasons if they desire, but they are desiring not to do so. Some people, are pointing to the reduced viewership of the Marvel properties on the streaming service as reasons to why they were cancelled, but that cannot be confirmed. Netflix is notoriously stingy with releasing its viewership data, but we all know the seasons that most people are talking about. With that said it is no surprise that Iron Fist was the first to be canceled, even though it had a decent second season. Similarly, Daredevil struggled in its second season, but just produced a critically acclaimed -and very enjoyable- third season. Now, the lowering viewership may have been a factor, but it probably wasn’t the main contributing factor.

After all, the rating could not have been that bad. These shows were more solid than terrible, and superhero properties are still selling out movie theaters and taking over the small screen to an almost chokingly massive degree. Marvel is a brand that sells and Netflix could have ridden the train for at least a few more years, but what would be the benefit to Netflix? We do know a few things about the viewers of Marvel/Defender properties, of which we count ourselves among. First of all, those people that watch shows like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are more likely to watch other Netflix original shows. Secondly, the Marvel shows were no longer bringing in new subscribers to Netflix. Now, that may not have been true when the first season of Daredevil aired in 2015, but the shows seem to be making no noticeable impact on subscribers or revenue. That means that they are not offering any positive financial benefit, and because the vast majority of the show’s watchers are already engaging with other Netflix shows regularly, it also means that cancelling them will have no negative financial impact.

In short people are not going to stop watching Netflix because there is no Iron Fist season 3. Lastly, as Disney goes ahead with its plan for global domination Netflix is going to lose all its Marvel and Star Wars movies, and Disney+ will be launching a plethora of Marvel and Disney live-action and animated shows. The Netflix Defenders are heavily Marvel branded and tied-in to the MCU, which means that continuing their production is only going to serve to give Disney -their now competitor- more free advertising and remind viewers that they could just cancel Netflix and subscribe to Disney. In a way, it is an incredibly smart financial move on the part of Netflix. They risk nothing, but by doing it they cut off a source of free advertising for their newest and biggest competitor… but there is a catch.

The Punishing Reality
All the speculation that people have had over seeing a Heroes for Hire or any new Defender properties made on Disney+ is a fantasy. The Netflix shows are too gritty to fit into Disney’s sterilized kid-friendly world. Marvel has been less and less enthusiastic about the links between the gritty shows and the colorful witty movies, even going so far as to say “no”to any cameos from Daredevil and friends in Infinity War. So leaving the Defenders and their sex-scenes and bloody-violence to wither and die in the back queue of Netflix also serves the purpose of Marvel and their overlords in the Empire of Mouse. basically, it will benefit both companies to try and forget that these shows ever happened, so if we do see them again it will probably only be in cartoon form, where they can be contained and utilized in a more child-friendly way.

However, do not give up hope of ever seeing superheroes on Netflix again. Netflix has entered into an agreement with Mark Millar to start making properties of his Millarverse with adaptions of Jupiter’s Legacy, American Jesus, Empress, Huck, and Sharkey the Bounty Hunter possibly on the table for a new connected universe. So, the dominance of superheroes in our media remains strong, even if the Defenders will fall by its wayside.

A movement on the rooftop. Soft running footsteps, and then suddenly he’s there, a man dressed in red, like the devil himself, Daredevil to be more exact. The guardian of Hell’s Kitchen cannot see, at least not like you or we can, but that does not stop him from defending the neighborhood he loves and fighting for justice in a world full of gods and super soldiers. With the hit Netflix Marvel series returning this weekend for its second season, we here at The NYRD thought it would be a good time to blindly dive into the science of Daredevil and the differently-abled -pun intended.

The Man Without Fear (or Sight)
The accident that left Matt Murdock blind also gave him heightened senses, but Daredevil is not alone in this phenomena and most blind people don’t need chemical waste to sharpen their other senses. It comes down to simple brain chemistry. Our brains are magnificent pieces of equipment that adapt and change to help us survive. It is not so much that blind people learn to use their other senses better, but that the brain actually rewires itself to compensate for the loss. This is called cross-modal neuroplasticity, but that’s just a fancy way of saying that your brain finds ways to use your other senses  more efficiently. In some ways it is similar to the condition known as synesthesia, which is when the input from one sense triggers another sense automatically, such as how some people can hear a color, or taste a sound.

Tests conducted in Canada found that blindfolded individuals could identify more layers of harmonicity in music notes than their non-blindfolded counterparts, even only after a few minutes without vision. Another study recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, gives functional MRI evidence that people who are born deaf still use the parts of their brain that normally process sounds, called Heschl’s gyrus. Instead of processing sound, however, they use those areas to instead process other stimuli like taste or touch, almost literally hearing the world through another sense. Blind people like Daredevil also experience the world differently. Their visual cortex is still active only it becomes used to process information from things like sound and even smells. . All of this amounts to what many might a real-life superpower, but don’t crack open the mask and devil horns just yet.

Unfortunately -and despite the incredible capabilities of the human brain- there are limits to our brain plasticity. Being born deaf or blind, or becoming differently-abled at an early age -like Matt Murdock- gives a person their best chance of adapting to the condition. Brains are more pliable in youth, especially during particularly sensitive periods of development, like language acquisition. However, adults have a harder time adapting. Certain pathways have already been formed and experiences have already been learned. The truth is that neuroplasticity only goes so far, and the enhanced senses of Daredevil are still well beyond the capability of any human brain. His “sight” is very much an invention of comic books, but that does not mean that many real-life differently-abled individuals are not extraordinary in their own ways.

Blind as a Batfleck
Daniel Kish, has been blind since he was a baby, but that has not stopped him from doing things like hiking and even riding a bike. If we are looking for a real-world equivilant of Daredevil than Daniel might fit the bill. Through a technique of clicking his tongue, Daniel is able to use a process of echolocation that is similair to that of a bat. This kind of power was portrayed poorly by Ben Affleck in the 2004 flop, Daredevil, where Murdock is able to bang objects or use the rain to “see” the world around him. Daniel, however, does not throw pots at the wall every time he needs to find a doorway.

There are two types of echolocation, active and passive, and even sighted people employ its use in their day to day lives. Hearing footsteps growing louder, or sensing that there is a wall in front of you in a darkened room can all be forms of passive echolocation. The human brain is wired to interpret sound vibrations spatially. It is part of the reason why we have two ears placed on different sides of our head. Our brains naturally take in the sound around us, and then use the information from each ear to determine certain factors, like location, proximity and even size of the object we are hearing. In other words, if a car is coming at us on our left side, our left ear will hear it at a slightly louder volume than our right ear. Due to the Doppler effect, the car will sound progressively higher-pitched as it approaches and then lower-pitched as it travels further away from the observer. The brain then uses all that information to place the object in our mental landscape. People like Daniel Kish and Matt Murdock use this technique, except they don’t always wait for the world to give them a passive sound to do so. Instead, they make their own.

Human echolocation has been formally studied since at least the 1950s, and those that employ it have the ability to detect objects in their environment by sensing the echoes which bounce back to them, often by tapping a cane or making clicking noises with their mouths, as is the case with Daniel Kish. Differently-abled people with this ability have likely rewired their brains to actually interpret sound waves reflected by nearby objects, allowing them to orient themselves in a world they cannot see through typical human means. It has been inferred, and even outright stated, over the years that Daredevil “sees” very similiar to this technique, whether it be the sonar of Ben Affleck or the “world on fire” explanation that we get in the new Netflix series.

The Kingpin of Perception
A lot of this comes down to our own personal perceptions of the world. As sighted humans we put a lot of emphasis on out ability to see, sometimes at the determent of our other senses. “Seeing is believe,” “eye witness,” and “stop looking while I use the urinal,” are all common sayings that we hear daily at The NYRD office. When we think about the world we often do it through visual terms, even memories are often “visualized” in our minds as pictures or moving images, but human sight is remarkably limited. Only a miniscule fraction of light waves are perceptible to our eyes. For instance, snakes are capable of seeing infrared spectrum light, and many game animals can see ultraviolet light. Going beyond sight, there are many creatures that experience the world -or even more of it- than your average human.

A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than our own, but their eyesight is weaker. They are animals that experience the world through their nostrils, and in many cases often more sharply than us and our eyes. According to James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well. As humans we like to prioritize our own experiences over the experiences of others -which also explains politics. We tend to extrapolate that the way we “perceive” the world is the universal way -that it is the “normal” way- to experience the world around us. Yet, that is so far from the truth it is almost laughable. Human eyesight isn’t even that great, just ask anyone who has to wear glasses. We can’t see into extreme spectrums of light, and there are literally colors that exist that we have never seen and will never see.

This brings us back to Daredevil. We often call what he experiences a superpower, but the truth is that it is just another way to experience the world. His perception of reality may not be the same as Daniel Kish’s or even yours, but it is no less or more limiting. In fact, Matt Murdock’s true superpower is not so much his ability to “see” differently, but his dedication to not allowing his lost visual sense to get him down. Instead, of giving up he trained himself to peak human condition through perseverance and crazy martial arts.

As superheroes in the Marvel Universe go, he is not a thunder god, or a raging green hulk monster. He does not get his powers from a robotic suit or a super soldier serum. His superpower only lets him see the world around him differently. Daredevil is a hero because he dedicates himself to being one. He didn’t give up, even when the world told him that he was different or “broken,” and in our opinion, there is no better analogy for what it truly means to live as a differently-abled person.


We would like to thank our expert consultant, Dr. Douglas Smith, MD, for his help on writing this article.

With the start of the Television Critics Association Summer Press tour for Netflix, Marvel and Netflix talked about their plans moving forward. The goal of the two comic and streaming giants is to release a new Marvel Netflix property every six months. Some of these will be new seasons of continuously running programs, while others will be new properties altogether, such their newest show AKA Jessica Jones.

All of this is leading up to a Netflix Crossover Event, The Defenders. It seems to be that Marvel is going to do for Netflix and streaming TV what they have already done in movies. Unfortunately, no actual schedule was released and they seemed to be hinting at the fact that only certain series would receive multiple seasons, while others would work more as stand-alones. That determination will probably be made on a basis of how well each individual series is received.

There is still a lot of vagueness circling the Internet about what is going on. For instance, there still no set launch date for Jessica Jones or what the next series after that will be. There is very little confirmation of any type for anything, right now. However, Variety did report that Jessica Jones will debut in 2015, but no exact date was given. That means we could be waiting until December for our next small screen return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We do know that Daredevil is currently filming its second season, and with Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal playing the Punisher.

There are even rumors that Frank Castle could receive his own stand-along series, but all of that seems little more than speculation by Hitflix. Only time will tell, but for right now, all we at The NYRD can do is bide our time with baited breath until AKA Jessica Jones, and the return of Daredevil.


Photo courtesy: http://tennantnews.blogspot.com/2015/04/photos-david-tennant-filming-aka.html