Why Infinity War Was Right To Leave Out Netflix's Defenders

The Defenders and Avengers posters

While it was released nearly a month ago, the conversation around the events of Avengers: Infinity War haven't slowed down. The Russo Brothers did the seemingly impossible, balancing the film's large ensemble of superheroic characters, while also telling a thrilling story with a complex antagonist. While cinephiles seem universally pleased with the end result of the film, there is one point of contention among the more hardcore Marvel fans: where the hell were Netflix's Marvel superheroes? Considering that one of the first act's biggest scenes takes place in New York City, it would have stood to reason that The Defenders might join the fray alongside Doctor Strange and Iron Man. But while I would have loved for Jessica Jones and Daredevil to pop up, I think the Russos ultimately made the right call in leaving that crossover unexplored.

The Russo Brothers had previously revealed how The Defenders' inclusion was thought out early in the film's writing process, before they eventually decided against it. Now writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus expanded that reasoning, with McFeely revealing:

We talk about that all the time. I don't know anything about animosity [between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television]. In a movie this big, we certainly had the conversation, 'Should we put Luke Cage in this? Here we are in New York...' That kind of stuff. As you could probably tell, it would be just a glorified cameo at this point. We're trying to honor the MCU movies and if we then further tell the audience, 'Oh, you should also have a good knowledge from this streaming service over here that you may or may not be subscribing to.' That's really asking a lot. We're already asking a lot.

It looks like Infinity War just wasn't the right time for Marvel's small screen stars to finally interact with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. The Russo Brothers already had to pair characters together with the assumption that few moviegoers had actually seen all 18 previous movies; adding on Netflix's shows or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast would have been too much.

Marvel fans are always thirsty for more crossover moments, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily the right time. Infinity War was a massive adventure, with characters from all corners of the MCU finally interacting in epic action sequences. There obviously wasn't enough time to give characters like Iron Fist or Luke Cage any proper screen time, meaning they would have likely been reduced to cheap cameos. And with Netflix's Marvel shows being praised for being intimate looks into their title characters, this seems a disservice to the small screen characters we know and love.

Stephen McFeely's comments to Collider also point out something important: not everyone even has Netflix. While the streaming service has become a behemoth in recent years, there are plenty of moviegoers and Marvel fans who simply don't subscribe. Expecting everyone in the audience to have watched Marvel's 5 individual shows and the Defenders miniseries is a bit unrealistic. So if the Devil of Hell's kitchen showed up for a cameo to kick some alien ass, all casual movie fans would see is another random dude in a costume.

Prior to Infinity War's release, moviegoers were already under the assumption that they should have at least a casual understanding about the MCU's 18 blockbusters. But at least those were spread out across a decade of trips to the theater, whereas the Netflix shows have come out in quick succession. There were plenty of folks that weren't 100 percent caught up on either the point they saw Infinity War, with the movie's writers having to work around that with the script.

I'm not suggesting I don't ever want a Defenders/Avengers crossover event to happen. It's something that the loyal fans like myself would love, serving as a gift for standing by the shared universe for the past decade. But Infinity War already had a ton of characters to balance, so there was simply no room for the B-Team. Plus, the meeting between the two teams should be an event in itself, rather than a flashing glimpse that would have quickly been forgotten after the movie's surprising ending occurred.

While they won't be interacting anytime soon, you can check out the Avengers in Infinity War in theaters now, and stream the small screen content over on Netflix.

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Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.