Back before the days of Disney+, there were already Marvel television shows in existence. In fact, these shows, at the time, played within the continuity that Marvel Studios had established in its films. However, at the end of the day, they were very much their own thing.
There were titles like Agents of Shield or Agent Carter, and then there was the Netflix empire that was built by Marvel Entertainment. The company's diverse roster of series included Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist—all leading up to their team-up series The Defenders. Even The Punisher got his own show.
The common thought about that entire situation was that Marvel Studios basically let Marvel Entertainment have what they wanted. That those TV products could exist because Marvel Studios did not have any interest in using those characters at the time.
That's at least what everyone thought was going on. It looks like that isn't quite what was happening—in fact, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige didn't have any control at all.
Feige Had No Control of Ghost Rider, Daredevil, or Blade
The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe book was released on October 19, and it contains a treasure trove of new information about how Marvel Studios came to be and the many challenges it has faced over the years.
Among those challenges was the return of character rights to Marvel throughout the early 2010s. Flipping back to the 1990s, a struggling Marvel Entertainment licensed character's film rights to various studios who were interested in taking a risk on cinematic superheroes.
Jumping forward to 2013, characters such as Daredevil and Elektra (previously owned by 20th Century Fox) had their rights reverted back under the Marvel umbrella as those licenses expired, with heroes such as Ghost Rider, Blade, The Punisher, and Luke Cage having reverted even earlier.
The new MCU book spilled on information that had been unknown to the public until now: Instead of these iconic superheroes immediately becoming useable by Marvel Studios upon their rights' reversions, the higher-ups at Marvel Entertainment decided that, since the Kevin Feige-led studio was already deeply committed to the likes of its Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy line-up, those returning characters could help build an already "planned TV empire."
The catch? This empire was entirely under the direct control of Marvel Entertainment—entirely separate from Marvel Studios. The film side had no control over those characters, "despite their interest in developing them."
"While many observers assumed that this entire stable of characters would go directly into Marvel Studios' movie development process, it was decided by Marvel Entertainment's higher-ups that because the movie side was already deeply committed to their successful Avengers characters, and the impending Guardians of the Galaxy characters, that the returnees would instead help build a planned TV empire under the direct control of Marvel Entertainment (entirely separate from Marvel Studios). The film side had no control over those characters, despite their interest in developing them. Instead, they all went to Marvel Entertainment. Ghost Rider appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and the others were placed in different streaming series."
Marvel Studios Didn't Have The Control Everyone Thought
It's crazy to learn that Marvel Studios, and President Kevin Feige, never actually had a say in the use of big characters like those featured in Agents of Shield and Daredevil. The common narrative, shaped over the years, painted the opposite picture.
Now that Marvel has completely dropped Marvel Entertainment from its live-action ventures, things don't bode well for fans hoping to see those previous shows remain completely canon.
If those were made outside of Kevin Feige's wishes, then the odds are he's going to do whatever he wants with the characters, even if it goes against what was established in their previous appearances outside the films/Disney+ series.
It's clear that Feige doesn't hate all aspects about the previous television empire, as he has been very vocal about how much he loved Charlie Cox as Daredevil. That's probably why the rumors of Cox returning to the role in the MCU have gained so much traction; they make a lot of sense.
What will likely happen is that Feige will cherry-pick what he liked about those characters and stories, and include however much of it he wants to into future MCU stories. If Charlie Cox returns in an MCU project like Spider-Man: Far From Home, don't expect everything that Matt Murdock experienced in the first three seasons of Daredevil to continue holding true.
Fans can pick up The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now, wherever books are sold.