Daredevil has been Born Again. Charlie Cox’s Man Without Fear will be rocking up later in She-Hulk, appearing in Hawkeye spin-off Echo alongside his nemesis Kingpin (once again played by Vincent D’Onofrio), and even debuting in animated form in Spider-Man: Freshman Year, all before his own Disney Plus series.
It’s fair to say Marvel Studios is betting big on Daredevil, and it’s no coincidence that Kevin Feige namechecked him as the first main street-level hero (along with Spider-Man). These plans for Daredevil mark an exciting new creative direction for the MCU, one that’s literally worlds away from the cosmic and multiverse shenanigans laid out elsewhere in Phases 5 and 6. Better yet, it could even help soothe Marvel’s early teething problems on Disney Plus.
Much like how Nick Fury once assembled the Avengers, Daredevil’s set up to be the connective tissue between smaller, more intimate superhero stories that – Hawkeye aside – have not really been seen in the MCU yet. A quick stopover with fellow legal powerhouse Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk and a potential reported search for Jessica Jones in Echo should set the stage for a welcome redux after a Netflix cancellation that still stings for many.
The suit, the man, and the familiar red-tinted glasses all remain, which is a good start. The MCU can set about introducing more volatile elements for Daredevil now he’s properly part of that world, all while building on the foundations provided by the Netflix series.
It’s unclear whether Daredevil: Born Again will bring the old gang of Foggy and Karen back together, but the early semblance of continuity speaks to Marvel Studios’ approach to re-introducing nostalgia-tinged acts. Namely, it’s trying to keep things as uncomplicated as possible while sprinkling in just enough intrigue elsewhere.
Instead of wiping the slate clean, Born Again could provide a promising first step in how to start over with a mix of familiar faces and potentially controversial changes, depending on how the show deviates from the original Netflix canon. With the X-Men just over the horizon, it’s crucial that Marvel Studios uses this as an opportunity to learn how to integrate fan favorites from non-MCU properties without alienating long-time fans.
Devil's in the details
Whatever comes to pass, Daredevil won’t be held back by its length. A case – one Matt Murdock would be happy enough to take on – could be made for each Marvel show on Disney Plus so far ending an hour too soon. The six-episode format (for everything barring WandaVision) has left finales feeling rushed and writers seemingly creatively handcuffed by the rigid restraints of the shortened runtime. Daredevil: Born Again is 18 episodes. It’s a worry – especially given how many of Netflix’s Marvel series ran out of steam trying to hit 13 episodes a year – but does allow for a larger canvas on which to paint.
If nothing else, it’s unpredictable. Marvel, as shown by its avalanche of SDCC announcements, loves to plot out its universe beat-by-beat. That’s bled into the pacing of the shows; you can almost second guess the formula it’ll follow by the time the third episode rolls around. Born Again throws all that out of the window, instead opting for a freer and looser approach that gives enough room for its main goals. Those 18 episodes will allow Daredevil: Born Again the space to recapture the quality of the original Netflix series, all while introducing the show to new fans, and weaving the character more closely into the fabric of the MCU.
By the end of the epic run, Daredevil should exist in a living, breathing Hell’s Kitchen where anyone could turn up. It appears, then, that Daredevil will be positioned as the premier franchise-within-a-franchise for Marvel’s television roster, a broad church where all the MCU’s street-level heroes can exist. Even more excitingly, it opens up the option for other Netflix brothers-in-arms, such as Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Mike Colter’s Luke Cage, to be inserted into the MCU without adding to an already crowded collection of upcoming projects.
In one fell swoop, it solves Marvel’s problem with television pacing and gives a welcoming home to a new side of the MCU. While Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are out butting heads with Kang the Conqueror, Daredevil can still defend the streets of New York from mafia members and lowlifes without any real narrative disconnect.
Born Again might not be able to bottle the success of Daredevil’s original run, but everything is in place for it to thrive regardless. Charlie Cox’s lawyer-turned-superhero is already primed to be a big deal thanks to his crossovers, while retaining just enough of the old magic – a showdown with Kingpin surely awaits – to entice older fans out of the shadows. 18 episodes may end up being a big sticking point, though Marvel Studios could cook up a storm in Hell’s Kitchen in this wider playpen by reintroducing Netflix characters alongside heroes and villains from the current cinematic universe.
It's still early days, but Daredevil: Born Again adds another important ingredient into the MCU’s melting pot – which can only be a good thing.
Discover what else is on the way in the MCU with our complete guide to upcoming Marvel movies and TV shows.