Following a massive San Diego Comic-Con, one of the many bombshells that Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios dropped was the cleverly named Daredevil: Born Again series, with several possibilities on what this could mean for the titular hero. The original show was prematurely cut short following Netflix giving it the ax shortly after Daredevil‘s euphoric third season, and this long-awaited announcement is surely justice to many fans.
While concrete timeline status is a bit murky, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Born Again be a sort of soft reboot. The show could maintain the same general continuity of its predecessor’s story while taking place far enough later that it functions as its own starting point — like a new comic book run. Even still, there are still potential characters and storylines — partly based on the first show — that could drive the plot of this astonishingly longer 18-episode season.
Daredevil arguably made up the best of the former Netflix shows’ stories, but there are other characters from the Defenders Saga that are worth bringing back into the fold. One of the understandable criticisms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been focusing on teeing up other stories and cramming fan-service cameos rather than focusing on the tale at hand, but Born Again‘s surprisingly ambitious (for the studio and streamer’s standards, at least) 18-episode season could justify some extra faces.
Jessica Jones is the first of the Defenders that should come to many fans’ minds, as Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of her was a compelling rendition of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ (also of Daredevil fame) work in her comics. That quality adaptation translated well into Charlie Cox’s now-definitive live-action incarnation of Matt Murdock, as they easily had the best on-screen dynamic.
The two had irresistible chemistry and a back-and-forth relationship filled with sarcastic and condescending jabs that made for some of the most genuine, organic uses of humor in the wider MCU. That’s on top of Jessica Jones’ seamless street-level toughness that fit into Daredevil’s corner of the world.
A jaded, cynical, colorful superhero turned gritty private investigator is practically a must if Kevin Feige and company insist on effectively fleshing out the street-level part of Marvel’s dense mythos.
It’s hard to ignore the Frank Castle-sized hole that fans want to be filled again, as the Punisher is probably the primary character (outside of the Defenders) people want to see opposite the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. The love for the Punisher is due largely to Jon Bernthal’s portrayal, as he expertly fits the dangerous and troubled boots of the antihero.
Right now, it’s hard to imagine how Marvel Studios reworks a character like him front and center on Disney+, given the company’s strict adherence to a “family-friendly” image. And unlike Daredevil, the Punisher becomes nearly impossible to transition into a PG-13 world, especially the often sanitized landscape Marvel insists on in their cinematic and streaming ventures.
Nonetheless, Bernthal’s take on the Punisher was one of the most celebrated aspects of Daredevil, with his interactions with the titular superhero the highlight of season 2. A special shoutout goes toward Bernthal’s brief encounter with Vincent D’Onofrio’s menacing Kingpin, which emphasized the essential brutal nature of both of their characters.
While the Punisher isn’t a supervillain, his and Daredevil’s ideologies on life and justice are still worlds apart, and that dichotomy made for the most engrossing personal conflicts in the original Daredevil‘s sophomore season. Having the two meet again on a somewhat more stable level could still be exciting to see.
As unceremonious as Daredevil‘s end came at the hands of corporate indifference, the series thankfully managed to wrap up its third season on a tidy note. It was an immensely satisfying character arc for Matt Murdock and his supporting cast, and most of the season’s conflicts were neatly resolved.
However, the one clear cliffhanger was the fate of Wilson Bethel’s Ben Poindexter/Bullseye. The Kingpin is reasonably seen as the bane of Daredevil’s existence, but if Bullseye isn’t the hero’s main arch-nemesis, he’s at least working with others to bring Daredevil down.
Bethel’s Bullseye was thoroughly ominous and an excellent supporting villain, making him an equal parts fascinating and unsettling character throughout the season. After that cathartic free-for-all brawl between him, Daredevil, and Kingpin following Bullseye’s turning on his former boss, his spine was left shattered.
But the last eerie scene of the villain having his spine operated on before suddenly waking painfully teased something greater to come. Bullseye is responsible for much of the misery in Matt’s life in the comics, and that final shot poised him to fully come into his supervillain persona outside of Fisk’s looming shadow.
Like DC’s Catwoman to Batman, Daredevil’s complicated (and dangerous) romance with Elektra Natchios deserves a second lease on life. Season 2 was solid overall, but it was held back from excellence in part by being saddled with the responsibility of setting up The Defenders miniseries with “The Hand” story arc.
Aside from Punisher being relegated too much on the supporting end because of this, Elodie Yung’s portrayal of Elektra was also partly hampered. Yung’s performance in general, though, fit like a glove in terms of her comic book counterpart’s personality.
Part of that was thanks to her electric dynamic with Cox’s Murdock, with the two constantly exuding an air of romantic tension.
The finale of the aforementioned miniseries gave her and Daredevil a somber fate with Elektra presumed dead. However, for better and worse, comic books have taught veteran fans that if there isn’t a body, then they’re likely not dead. Even if there is a body, they’re still not guaranteed kaput.
Like Bullseye, a soft reboot with Daredevil: Born Again could slip her back into the MCU without newcomers feeling bewildered or feeling cheap to longtime fans.
Despite the double meaning behind the upcoming show’s title, it’s unlikely that it’ll take a page from Frank Miller’s landmark comic book arc of the same name. Season 3 of the original already used that as the core inspiration behind its plot and Daredevil’s state of mind, but D’Onofrio’s Kingpin still has plenty of nefarious storylines to be the center of.
It’s part of an arc from Charles Soule’s run on the Daredevil comic, with Kingpin taking advantage of a precarious climate to run for mayor of Hell’s Kitchen. This seems to be one of the rumors circulating online for Daredevil: Born Again already, and it would be a solid pick since Feige clearly recognizes that there needs to be more of the spotlight cast on Cox and D’Onofrio’s palpably vitriolic relationship.
It might seem ridiculous that somehow a villain as cunning and exposed as Wilson Fisk could successfully run for mayor but, aside from meta examples, writing a story about his public rebranding and assistance during a disastrous event could justify this premise.
A certain big purple alien wiping half of all life would probably do just fine, and that could also build him up to be the MCU’s widely threatening villain across the entirety of the universe’s street-level stories and characters.
Marvel’s original Daredevil series is available to stream now on Disney+, while the studio’s Daredevil: Born Again premieres in spring 2024.
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