Daredevil fans around the world are pretty excited at the prospect of the Daredevil: Born Again series. Filming should begin soon in NYC through the rest of 2023. With a return to Hell’s Kitchen, what could the 18-episode Disney+ series explore for Matt after his time in California with She-Hulk?
Before I dive into the theories below, I want to mention that I had a ball recording two episodes of The Cosmic Circle podcast with my fellow writers and friends Brian and Ayla. Check out the episodes to listen to the origin of this article!
Matt Murdock returns to New York. But what about Foggy and Karen?
Some of the first things I’ve seen fans ask about is the potential return of Matt’s closest allies, Foggy Nelson (played by Elden Henson) and Karen Page (played by Deborah Ann Woll). While I have no answers on that, anything feels possible.
However, recent rumblings are saying that Deborah Ann Woll, who portrayed Karen Page in the Netflix series, may be involved in the Twin Flames podcast (via Daniel RPK). If true, some fans are speculating that this could deter her from making a sizable appearance in the show. However, since it’s an audio production, the podcast could be done remotely if she finds herself in NYC for Daredevil: Born Again.
Whether that means Woll appears in the show or not remains to be seen, but with eleven months of shooting it doesn’t rule it out. Throughout the Netflix series, Karen became increasingly important not only to Matt but to the Nelson & Murdock firm’s later successes.
Her involvement with the New York Bulletin only solidified her skills in uncovering truths. This could be very beneficial for Matt, but more on that later.
Back in the courtroom again, Matt Murdock
Apart from the return to Hell’s Kitchen and Matt’s life, we have to get reacquainted with courtrooms. While speaking with GQ in 2022, Charlie Cox said,
“I think because of the number of episodes they’ve committed to, there’ll be a heavy influence of courtroom stuff — Matt Murdock the lawyer in the new show. So I’m heavily focused on researching that area of this character, and his life. It was one of the areas we didn’t do a huge amount of exploration around before.” – Charlie Cox via GQ
Recently, Ayla did a write-up of all the law-experienced writers that are currently working on the show. This supports Cox’s explanation.
Even as far back as July, on the very day the reboot was announced, Cox mentioned this to The Hollywood Reporter.
“[I want to] spend more time in Matt Murdock’s world as a lawyer and still have all the cool Daredevil superhero stuff, but to really live in his world and to ground the show in those in the day-to-day life of someone who has a profession as a lawyer could be really interesting”. – Charlie Cox via The Hollywood Reporter.
Having read through many Daredevil comics, I often find myself more interested in his abilities as a lawyer. A key example of this new direction in the MCU is when Matt identified the fuel used by Leap-Frog to quickly and easily win a case. This was the true highlight for me in the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law episode “Ribbit and Rip It”.
New friends and foes for Daredevil
There have been many casting calls for this series. Some are standard extras or series regulars, but there are a few that stand out to me as to who they could potentially be.
Since Matt spent some time in California (first with Natasha Romanoff back in Daredevil 1964 #87-108, and then again in Mark Waid’s second run), I’ve wondered if Marvel could introduce to the MCU a fun character from the Waid Daredevil run from 2011 – Kirsten McDuffie!
With Margarita Levieva signed on as a potential love interest for Matt Murdock, I have some thoughts on her role potential. Granted I’ve seen this posted a handful of times across many outlets, so it doesn’t feel very original saying it now. But, with the way that Marvel Studios likes to add a twist to pre-existing characters, I could see Levieva’s role embodying a lot of McDuffie’s personality elements, and getting a new name.
But another thing to consider is that she’s only signed on for one season as of now. A character like McDuffie should be more recurring as her input is of a higher value, and should be continuous. Matt has a distinct attraction toward strong and intelligent women, as shown by his relationships with Elektra, Karen, Claire, and Jennifer.
With this being set in NYC, I think there’s a chance he might go through a similar unmasking. This could be key later on, but that’s for later on in this string of theories.
Michael Gandolfini’s inclusion has fans buzzing. Not just because of the pick of the actor (whose father played one of the most popular Mafia characters in modern television) but who he himself could be.
Deadline states he’s playing “an ambitious guy from Staten Island” under the name Liam. The only ties I’ve seen of Daredevil to Staten Island is this issue from 1994 where the ferry exploded, so nothing really to review there.
This could be a new character. Many folks believe he could be playing Wilson Fisk’s son. That feels too on the nose, although probable. It also wouldn’t be out of the question if he played a different family member such as an embittered cousin, or even simply a motivated unrelated individual who wrestled with a life of crime and is looking for a promotion.
There’s a rumor from Daniel RPK that Colin Woodell is playing a villain in this show. But from what else has been reported, he is a one-and-done for this season. I thought he could potentially be portraying Muse, who would be a terrifying and recent character from the comics to bring into the fold. The character and his skillset are very unique; he poses problems for Matt since he’s unable to be detected by Matt’s Radar Sense.
Often we have seen castings come through and there are huge leaps to try and connect them to existing comic characters. I’m leaning towards this being a simpler villain, similar to Gaspard Ulliel as Anton Mogart in Moon Knight. But it feels only slightly possible he could be Muse due to the connection to the next casting…
Samuel Chung aka Blindspot. Muse lured Blindspot to one of his first crimes and later gouged out his eyes, taking away Sam’s sight. The character of Sam Chung is indeed hard-working: he worked long hours at Columbia University as a janitor and used resources from the college to develop his suit that grants invisibility.
The “enthusiast” part of his interest in martial arts seems spot-on. When Blindspot meets Daredevil, he’s not that great of a fighter and trains to improve his fighting with Daredevil’s help. Sam even joins the Hand later on and becomes more skilled in hand-to-hand combat. The age range in the casting call is also curiously close to Sam’s age in the stories, and with the number of episodes coming, I think they could at least start to introduce his character in this first season.
Tenfingers – First, the “Aleck Wu” casting, that is “Chinese American. Older, dignified. The kind of man you follow into battle. Imposing physical presence. Accomplished martial artist. The leader of a powerful organization.”
In the comics, Tenfingers is partially akin to Kingpin. However, he operates specifically within the Chinese-American community, taking advantage of many illegal immigrants through the front of the Church of the Sheltering Hands. The character works with The Hand (who are Japanese) and steals their mystical powers to start his own NYC empire in HK. I don’t believe The Hand/Tenfingers and Kingpin will be Matt’s only problems. (casting info from Daniel RPK)
The Black Knife Cartel, Echo, and a potential role for Karen Page
With the reporting of Black Knife Cartel (via ScreenGeek) being antagonists for Maya Lopez in the Echo show, it’s easy to believe that Fisk sent them after her. I wouldn’t rule out an appearance from either of them in Born Again. With a very brief appearance in the Bullseye mini-series from 2017, there’s not much to them apart from having scared off the Federales from bothering them.
The Black Knife Cartel’s inclusion could also serve as a backdoor vehicle to re-introduce Bullseye as a foe for Matt further down the line. With the insanity of the Black Knife Cartel, Bullseye would be a solid counterpart as the villain behind the villains.
Speaking of Maya Lopez, given her history with Matt and Fisk in the comics, it wouldn’t be unrealistic for her to pop up here. Her years of involvement in Fisk’s operations would make her a great threat to try and topple the Fisk crime empire as a first-hand witness and enforcer for him over the years. With the legal potential of the series, it feels strongly like there might be someone building a case against the Kingpin.
As I mentioned earlier, this could be a great avenue to give Karen Page a comeback to the show. Even with a minor appearance, her ability to dig up information could become extremely important in the fight against Fisk.
Her impact could be felt in a different manner, so she doesn’t have to even show up. A batch of documents could be forwarded to the offices of Nelson and Murdock to aid them in a takedown. Although a minor role, there was also one of a “political blogger” with the name ‘Josy’ who was described as ‘brash’ (via ScreenGeek). In the modern day of online reporting, perhaps she could uncover a key scheme that might play against Matt OR Fisk.
How Kingpin could flip the script on Daredevil and other heroes
With the other rumors of Fisk running for Mayor, it made me think of the structure setup, given that we have an 18-episode order. Some have contemplated whether this could mean that we get 3 arcs of 6 episodes each but my mind has drifted to something different… a split series.
With the surging “Part 1’s and 2’s” we have seen with some Netflix series, it could be a new approach for a Disney+ series. This also gives them the ability to bookend 9 episodes before a movie (my best guess would be Thunderbolts) and have Fisk become Mayor and incorporate that into a film. The back half of the series could deal with the fallout of the film, and raise the stakes even higher.
After the ending of Hawkeye, we have pieces to pick up which should be explored in Echo, but who’s to say that storyline ends there? We can’t discount the possibility of other characters making a long play in NYC. Since Fisk was utilizing the Tracksuit Mafia, it stands to reason that they’ve had run-ins with others and there could be a reckoning for those who were also wronged by the Kingpin.
As I mentioned earlier, Matt being unmasked could be the beginning of a domino effect. Once he’s exposed, it would give Fisk more leverage to start his crusade against costumed vigilantes – with or without secret identities.
This is exactly what happened in Charles Soule’s Daredevil run (#595-600). With mixed public opinions against heroes, I can foresee part of the Mayor Fisk campaign succeeding if he were to out Matt Murdock’s second persona. There is some hope in me that this could bring in other familiar faces from the Netflix side of the Marvel universe.
A few more thoughts on Daredevil in the MCU
Another one of my favorite parts of Soule’s 2014 run was Matt’s new black and red suit. The suit first appeared in the story aptly titled “Back In Black” (which also brought in Blindspot *wink, wink*). As fun as the yellow/red combo suit was in She-Hulk, I think Matt will need something more stealthy the next time we see him on screen.
The suit in She-Hulk felt more like a fun nod to his comic origins, but even in the comics he only kept it for a few issues before moving to his signature reds. If you’re curious about when and where he wore the yellow/red combo, see Daredevil (1964) #1-6 and Daredevil: Yellow (2002)!
Another point of interest is the title – Born Again. While the Netflix series already did an adaptation of Frank Miller’s iconic storyline, it’s still a great title to bring Matt Murdock into the grander MCU.
I am so excited about this series, what it could mean for the smaller-scale MCU, and how the storyline with the Kingpin will play out. Recently Vincent D’Onofrio did confirm in a tweet that the filming is set to begin soon.
[Editor’s Note: a report from Midgard Times has the Daredevil: Born Again start date now as March 6, 2023, with a previous date mentioned of February 27. This lines up with things I’d been hearing as well about the time frame. – Lizzie Hill ]
My last thoughts are for the working title – Out the Kitchen. After some back and forth, I’m leaning towards this meaning that Matt is operating out of Hell’s Kitchen, rather than having him leave it. That area is so tied to Matt’s character that I can’t see him leaving it any more than he already has by visiting the West Coast.
Part of the beauty of the street-level MCU is that it contains itself in a specific local area, literally the streets where it needs to be. While I don’t rule out Matt visiting other boroughs, he will definitely be spending most of his time in the Kitchen.
Further reading for Daredevil
If you enjoyed my analysis of what is known and unknown, I recommend you visit Vin’s reading guides to familiarize yourself more with the character. Daredevil has multiple runs I simply find fantastic and worth reading.
With so much history and variety, it’s fun to engross yourself with his light and dark adventures throughout the years. Here’s a mini-guide that covers the inspirations of my theories presented:
Recommended comics for Daredevil: Born Again
- Daredevil (2011) #1-36 (Mark Waid)
- Daredevil (2014) #1-18 (Mark Waid)
- Daredevil (2016) #1-28, 596-612 (Charles Soule)
Have you read Daredevil comics? Are you excited about Daredevil: Born Again coming to Disney+? Let us know on Twitter or we can chat on The Cosmic Circus Discord!