This has been a big week for Daredevil fans, as Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil officially made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe via “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and his arch enemy, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin, has also debuted in the MCU via the “Hawkeye” Disney Plus series.
Fans of Marvel’s Defendersverse should rejoice, as while this doesn’t necessarily canonize the Netflix shows (though Marvel might just do this), it does open the door to any characters from that franchise to make their way into the MCU, played by their respective actors.
If anything, it does validate both Cox and D’Onofrio’s take on the characters, as it’s an open admission by Marvel that both actors did an exceptional job and are more than worthy of reprising their roles. Especially if they plan to move forward with these characters in a way that’s completely disconnected from the Netflix shows (why would they drive traffic to Netflix when they have their own streaming platform?), it would have been much easier for them to recast the roles, especially because they have to reintroduce people to these characters.
But there is also a compelling case to be made that Marvel will just reinsert the Netflix shows into their continuity, using the Blip as an excuse as to why we haven’t heard from them in so long. Daredevil Season 3 — one of the last seasons of the Marvel Netflix shows — released in 2018, and can be reasonably assumed that it takes place at least in the vicinity of that year, which is exactly when Thanos invaded chronologically in “Avengers: Infinity War” and snapped half of everyone out of existence. The Defendersverse shows followed Marvel’s movie continuity faithfully enough that the MCU could just formally acknowledge their existence and call it a day.
Working against this theory is that Disney would drive viewers to a competing streaming service, though I don’t think it would be much stranger than its relationship with Sony in regards to sharing Spider-Man. And Disney could minimize this by soft-rebooting any characters they want, namely Daredevil and Kingpin, maybe Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
So far, I’m pleased by Marvel’s re-inclusion of Cox and D’Onofrio’s versions of Darevil and Kingpin, and their willingness to give fans what they want. Their films might be overly-formulaic and a lot to keep track of, but they know how to nurture and value the IPs that they have.