The set of television programs formerly known as Netflix’s Marvel shows are now on Disney+. And they’ve gotten a fancy new rebrand as The Defenders Saga. But when Netflix let it slip in February that the series were departing, it raised a lot of eyebrows. Sure, the shows boasted the Netflix Originals branding for a very long time. But they were always Marvel owned shows, just licensed for Netflix. So when the streaming license expired, Disney opted to pull them for their own streaming platform. It seemed only natural that the shows would wind up on Hulu, where most of Disney’s more mature content lies. So it was certainly a surprise when Disney confirmed their new streaming home on Disney+.
Given the nature of their content, many wondered if the shows would go through a re-edit to make them more suitable for the Disney+ catalog. It’s something even Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker mused about. But alongside the Defenders announcement, the streaming platform also announced its new parental controls settings, set to debut alongside the shows. And they’re quite thorough. To the point where they cover all the bases to allow Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and their Defenders contemporaries stream in their original form.
On March 16, I spent a whole lot of time on Disney+, scouring its new parental controls scoping out where its mature new television shows live. (And yes, I too, saw that very embarrassing goof on the Daredevil page. Luckily, the streaming platform quickly resolved that—with the perfect image, no less.) Up to the Defenders Saga’s debut, the most mature content on the platform was PG-13 or TV-14. (A.K.A. a little risque but more or less suitable for network television after 9 p.m.) But the content settings now reach R and TV-MA. Along, of course, with a variety of ratings more suitable for kids. Thus far, Daredevil, The Punisher, and company all make up the TV-MA content. But the ratings suggest the streaming platform has plans to add additional “mature” content to its library.
But it was always a fair question as to whether the shows would go through a re-edit, to a more friendly TV-14 setting. And viewers didn’t have to go far to imagine it. In Daredevil, Vincent D’Onofrio is unpredictable and violent, and yes he does take a guy’s head off with a car door. (I am sorry but it is only on brand for me to bring this up.) When he pops up in Hawkeye, he’s menacing but with a diminished violent edge, more in line with its MCU villainous counterparts. And zero people lose their heads. Plus the Eternals’ much talked about sex scene seems like a chaste little hug compared to the sex scenes across the Defenders shows.
But, frankly, a re-edit never would’ve made sense—or worked in the context. The Defenders shows are darker and grittier but with a purpose. Jessica Jones features a heroine struggling from PTSD after years of sexual abuse at the hands of Kilgrave. Sensitive topics like rape, trauma, and alcoholism are all at the forefront of the series, in a way that’s handled with a lot of care. None of the series shy away from violence either—inflicted on by villainous figures and, at times, the vigilantes themselves. In fact, what vigilante justice means plays a major role across several of the series.
To re-edit the shows for a more widely-acceptable TV-14 audience would’ve sanitized what made them click. Not to mention create total narrative chaos. Luckily, the series appear fully available in their original glory. Just make sure your Disney+ account is set to TV-MA to find these Marvel shows.