No matter how much of a steaming pile of "meh" the first season of Iron Fist was, a new study shows that more people watched it than the first season of Marvel's The Defenders, which, while not completely forgettable, did have its own issues. Based on reports that hit this week, it looks like those issues may have manifested themselves into a general "IDGAF" from Netflix viewers, who are said to have neglected the show in record numbers.
According to marketing-analysis firm Jumpshot, Marvel's The Defenders, which premiered in August 2017, was, as Variety reported, "the least-watched Netflix Marvel original series premiere in the U.S. as measured over the first 30 days of viewership." Jumpshot says the second season of Daredevil, which premiered in 2016, was the highest-watched Netflix Marvel series—no doubt because of Jon Bernthals' Punisher—and The Defenders only had 17 percent of the viewership Daredevil season two had in 30 days.
For a bit of clarity, Jumpshot's study showed that Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones all had comparable percentages of Daredevil season two's viewership (28, 27, and 26 percent, respectively). The Defenders also took a massive plunge when it came to retaining viewers—we're talking a 67 percent drop-off, followed by drops of 48 and 41 percent in subsequent weeks. That spells major trouble for a series that Netflix had been building their original Marvel series towards for the last four years. This should have been the ultimate Marvelfest for Netflix viewers, so we have to ask: what happened?
Could it have been fatigue from an awful round of Iron Fist hate? Ask a Marvel pundit and that's more than likely what they will tell you, but I beg to differ. Being a Marvel stan myself, I'll hate-watch Iron Fist or any of these series just because I'm a completist. I need the extra pieces of the puzzle. The thing is, even if Iron Fist is sitting at an 18 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score for Iron Fist is at 77 percent, which is one percent lower than The Defenders, and highlights that people who actually do watch the show end up (mostly) enjoying it, even if it's very mid.
Could it be Marvel fatigue? That's also possible. Iron Fist got loads of hate from critics, and that only happened back in March, so maybe the stench from that series still weighed heavily on The Defenders, which featured the Iron Fist character as one of the primary members (not only did he have the money to bankroll their adventures, but his power was vital to what The Hand was looking for). Sure, it was eight episodes, but if you're already not a fan of Iron Fist and know that he's a huge part of this show, why would you bother checking it out?
Another theory that has emerged involves the differing demographics who watch each series. One of the beautiful things about Jessica Jones is the ever-present feminist/girl power narrative in the series. If you watch Jessica Jones for the strong woman in the lead and then look at Defenders, which has three male leads, why would you want to watch? And if you're loving the black AF hip-hop vibe of Luke Cage and realize that the only real hip-hop reference in Defenders is a totally out-of-place Wu-Tang needle drop in the finale, what's pushing you to watch the show? It sucks, as we should be living in a world where fans of different vibes should be able to come together and enjoy a show, but maybe The Defenders simply didn't do enough to satisfy each of the demographics that should've made for a momentous season.
Maybe another key to all of this is that, while a series like Jessica Jones could bring in women who might not be into superhero shows but want to see a badass woman handle her own, a show like The Defenders, which requires knowledge from multiple superhero series to get a working understanding of the plot, is going to have a harder time enticing first-time viewers to tuning in.
Whatever the case may be, Netflix's grand experiment of building four different Marvel superheroes into one massive group wasn't necessarily a dud (it did much better in the critic's eyes than Iron Fist), but its performance (or lack thereof) is something we hope they are taking notes on. And they have time. As of now, there's no word on a second season of The Defenders, but each one of the heroes in the show has gotten a renewal. Time will tell if Netflix even plans on getting the band back together, but we can only hope that the ties that bind these street-level heroes together will be more enticing than the evil plans that The Hand wrought.