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The Crazy Way Marvel Netflix Shows Keeps Track Of Its Complex Timeline

The Defenders Elevator

In the same way that all of the Marvel Studios feature films have been leading up to next year's Avengers: Infinity War, all of the Marvel Netflix shows we've seen have been leading up to The Defenders. Next month, audiences will be able to see Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all on screen at the same time, bringing a major crossover plan to fruition after many years of development. Because of the way the continuity in the franchise works, putting it all together was never going to be a simple task for showrunners Marco Ramirez and Douglas Petrie, and earlier today Ramirez filled us in on the complicated process of putting the timeline together:

There were charts. It was like fucking Homeland. I was just popping pills Claire Danes-style looking at the walls like, 'This doesn't make sense!' It was seriously color coded -- like this is where Luke [Cage] ended, this is where Claire was -- it was crazy town! Because we knew the fanbase is this passionate. We will get emails! Even from our friends. So there were timelines and all that. I think ultimately the goal is that in many years if you ever want to sit down and watch the whole thing chronologically, you'll be able to watch them in the order they came out. So we're trying to honor that, and not be like, 'This happened in the middle of Daredevil Season 2!' Why would we do something like that? It just feels like it should happen in show order.

The Defenders is hosting its big Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con this afternoon, and in advance of the event, the stars and Marco Ramirez took part in roundtable interviews with the press on the ground. While sitting with Ramirez and Jessica Henwick (Colleen Wing on Iron Fist), I took the opportunity to ask about the process of figuring out the Marvel Netflix timeline and how each of the shows lead into each other. He explained that it was definitely something that they focused on, with the eventual intent of making it so that fans can marathon all of the shows in release order someday and never miss a single beat.

To date, the Marvel Netflix shows have done a solid job maintaining a clear continuity, particularly evident in the role played by Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple. While each of the shows before Defenders are all separated by an undefined amount of time, the ability to track Claire as she's gone through Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist has done its part to help clarify how each of the shows relate to each other. And given that she is expected to have a significant role in the new eight-episode miniseries, presumably that special role will continue.

While it makes all the sense in the world to keep the continuity of the Marvel Netflix series rather simple, it is somewhat disappointing to hear that we probably shouldn't expect anything more ambitious at some point in the future. One of the coolest things that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has managed to pull off to date is the fact that Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor all overlap in weird and interesting ways, and it's fun as a fan to pick up on how everything works. Perhaps we'll see it happen again on the big screen at some point, but it sounds like we definitely shouldn't expect anything of that nature on the streaming service shows.

Those who have been following the path of the Marvel Netflix shows don't have much longer to wait for the capstone, as The Defenders is scheduled to arrive online on Friday, August 18th. Between now and then, be sure to stay tuned for more features, interviews and other items about the show here on CinemaBlend!

Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.