CS Soapbox: Why Daredevil in Spider-Man 3 is More Exciting Than Tobey
ALOT of hype surrounds the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s follow-up to Spider-Man Far From Home. However, none of that chatter is as exciting as the return of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil. The upcoming film will piggyback off of a massive (mid-credits) cliffhanger that exposed Spider-Man’s secret identity and brought back J.K. Simmons as the inimitable J. Jonah Jameson. The latter’s inclusion hinted at the nature and implications of a Multiverse. For one, Simmons’ character in Far From Home wasn’t the same Daily Bugle Editor from Sam Raimi’s trilogy (despite the nostalgic utterance of “menace”). Secondly, when one familiar face appears, more are sure to follow. Case and point: the confirmed/reported return of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, and their respective Spider-Men, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.
Why? How? Ambiguity is exciting. We don’t know what any of this means for the MCU moving forward but we can assume that certain reprisals will be one and done (given contracts and careers). Seasoned comic book fans and moviegoers hope for a homage to superhero cinema of old—one step for Phase 4, one giant leap for cinematic universes. 2012’s The Avengers’ mainstreamed team-ups and Spider-Man 3 is set to make all previous adaptations/iterations fair game. That’s right, Warner Bros/DC’s small-screen tie-ins, The Flash, and “Michael Keaton back as Batman” twist is yet another desperate attempt to keep up with Marvel’s meticulously planned universe. That said, following recent reports of Cox on the set of Spider-Man 3, Marvel’s Netflix TV shows—that which was thought lost, but not forgotten—is also fair game…and that’s more exciting than more Spider-Men.
Long before WandaVision premiered on Disney+, the MCU’s “Street-Level Heroes” defended the small screen. Of those Defenders, Daredevil was king—the Captain America-esque leader of The Defenders. While Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher were all well-received (let’s not talk about Ironfist), “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” was a dish best served super cool. With long-shot fight scenes that empowered even the most deplorable couch potato, Netflix’s Daredevil redeemed the superhero’s critically-panned outing from 2003. All 3 of its seasons (yes, even its second) were superb. This was thanks in large part to Cox’s committed and balanced portrayal of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, one that was even honored by the American Foundation for the Blind. In the years since Disney/Marvel ended their relationship with Netflix/ABC and canceled the Defenders, fans have been #ReleaseTheSynderCut-vocal about reviving Daredevil.
The ongoing #SaveDaredevil campaign pleading for a fourth season has more traction than ever, refusing to settle with a mere cameo in Spider-Man 3. Kingpin actor Vincent D’onofrio has even supported the cause. Netflix’s contract ended this past November and Disney/Marvel is now free to use Daredevil characters. Marvel Studios’ is historically determined to utilize every asset both at their disposal and within the realm of possibility—from Iron Man and assembling The Avengers to negotiations with Sony and introducing Tom Holland’s Spider-Man (despite rights to the character). There’s nothing to fear about using “The Man Without Fear.”
Murdock’s return will benefit Spider-Man 3’s plot. His vocation, law, can play a role in Mysterio’s framing of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, helping him clear his name. As a solution to a major problem, his inclusion is the most organic. Irrespective of the Multiverse, Murdock lives in New York, just like Peter and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange. This approach could work wonders for Peter’s role as an Avenger and Tony Stark’s public predecessor moving forward. Not to mention the fact that Murdock is an obvious mentor and friend to Peter.
In the comics, both superheroes fight villains such as Kingpin—which is why D’onofrio was been heavily rumored to appear in Spider-Man 3. As heroes of similar neighborhoods, their partnership is a fan favorite—seen in projects like Chip Zdarsky’s current Daredevil series. Timely and relevant, aligning itself with other MCU projects like Disney+’s Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye, seeing them together would be a dream come true for fans of contemporary comics. When mused about that way, Cox’s Daredevil was always going to appear in the MCU. Why would they go through the exhaustive process of recasting the character when Cox is proof of concept? They wouldn’t.
Cox excelled at playing an unsuspecting blind man one minute and a gritty (and extremely capable) rage monster the next. It’s a tightrope act most performers would muck up but Cox did it in a way that lent credibility to the idea that even the most unlikely of people can overcome the odds—the odds being an endless array of bikers. Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige has already spoken on a desire to make the MCU a paragon of representation, bringing Cox back as his disabled hero supports this direction. If they were to cast anyone else, and that person was to do a less-than-admirable job, Marvel Studios will have failed for the first time since Thor: The Dark World. However, this is a moot point. The confirmation of Fox and Molina in Spider-Man 3 already signals a willingness to bring back actors from disparate outings.
Similar to Simmons’ Jameson, Daredevil probably won’t be the same guy from Netflix. Daredevil had very loose connections to the larger MCU and, while it would be fun to throw caution to the wind, Feige and company generally aren’t a myopic bunch. A soft-reboot of the character would pave the way for future shows which ignore narrative inconsistencies like Bullseye’s teased return at the end of Daredevil’s third season. A reboot would see its core cast return (some of which needs jobs) and have them play parallel universe versions of their characters. Think Keaton’s Vulture in that Sony-owned Morbius trailer: was that the same villain from Spider-Man: Homecoming? Or silently different in that he’ll never mention Stark Industries. Regardless, the spirit remains without the complications of adhering to previous events.
Even if MCU Murdock is a tad different, his return rewards a very vocal of the fanbase ala Zack Synder’s Justice League. It doesn’t matter if the storyline or characters were thought to be a thing of the past, nothing is beyond resurrection. Having Murdock interact with other MCU characters and sparking a Daredevil revival lends credibility to induction of fellow Defenders Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher, and Ironfist—the latter in desperate need of a re-write (all the more reason to run with the parallel universe idea, thanks Multiverse loophole). The Punisher is another character with iconic ties to Spider-Man and an already-established dynamic with Daredevil.
Before headlining his series, Jon Bernthal’s anti-hero was flawlessly introduced in Daredevil. Bernthal’s performance in season two’s “Penny and Dime” arguably should’ve earned him an Emmy nomination. Regardless, Bernthal has openly-talked about wanting to return. Maybe he’s already gotten a call. Given the mature nature of shows like The Punisher and Daredevil, series revivals would work best on Hulu—which Disney is a majority owner. During Disney’s recent investors’ meeting, it was said that Marvel’s more adult content (previously-Fox properties like Logan and Deadpool) would become available to stream on Hulu/Disney+ Star. The packages are bundled for a reason. The mature MCU is very much a thing, expanding its dominance across multiple platforms and allowing Ryan Reynolds to be censored on Disney + and explicit on Hulu/Star.
The inclusion of Cox’s Daredevil is more exciting than a brief Spiderverse storyline because of what it means for the future of the industry. It’s not 2008, Marvel Studios isn’t just kind of planning anymore. Everything is mapped out concerning fan enthusiasm, creative integrity, and profit. The more movies/shows Marvel Studios makes, the more Disney intimidates Warner Bros. and other competitors. The fact that every time Daredevil is mentioned, it trends on social media speaks volumes for capitalization. So, of course, Daredevil, once on Netflix, will make a comeback—an assertion of dominance 10 times more powerful than Peacock obtaining The Office. Marvel Studios’ mission statement is as follows: monetary purposes aside, it’s the right thing to do…best of luck to everyone else.