Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Netflix’s Daredevil.Image: Netflix
The upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home tells the story of how Peter Parker and Doctor Strange accidentally mess up their reality by breaking open the multiverse. So much of the speculation about the movie has focused on which other Peters Parker, as portrayed by previous Spider-Man actors, might team up with Tom Holland’s webhead. But according to a new report, No Way Home might also be poised to pull in a familiar hero from a not-so-far-flung branch of Marvel’s cinematic (corporate) multiverse: In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Marvel head Kevin Feige spoke about the MCU’s future and seemingly confirmed Matt Murdock’s imminent return with actor Charlie Cox reprising the role.
“If you were to see Daredevil in upcoming things, Charlie Cox, yes, would be the actor playing Daredevil,” Feige said. “Where we see that, how we see that, when we see that, remains to be seen.”
Feige dancing around the idea of Matt Murdock’s imminent return, especially when there are many rumors that he’ll cross paths with Peter Parker in the latest Spider-Man movie, is interesting in and of itself. But Feige’s comments also open up longstanding questions about the MCU’s relationship to Daredevil and Netflix’s other live-action shows that feature Marvel characters.
Back in 2013, when Marvel and Netflix first announced their plans to produce four new series, both the MCU and Marvel Studios were very different. Marvel’s films were already box office phenomena, and the studio had made some progress in the TV space with Agents of SHIELD, which started off featuring much closer ties to the MCU proper. But Marvel found that Netflix could be a space to develop episodic content aimed at mature audiences, and over the course of multiple seasons, develop the live-action profiles of classic characters who might not easily fit into larger-than-life action of the films.
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When the Netflix/Marvel project first began, neither magic nor the multiverse were very important elements of the MCU’s world. But as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Punisher released, it was hard not to notice the invisible barrier that seemed to be keeping them all from fully-acknowledging their existence within the MCU. For years, Feige insisted that while there was a possibility for the Defenders to crossover into the Avengers & co.’s turf, the production timing of Marvel’s various projects kept it from becoming a reality.
That line of reasoning made a certain degree of sense for a while, but then Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, Marvel Studio’s most-ambitious crossover projects, proved how the studio could wrangle the vast majority of its actors together.
Netflix and Marvel both got a lot out of their collaboration, but in the time between when it was first announced and when Punisher’s second and final season aired, the battle for streaming real estate had become far more intense. According to The Wrap, Netflix’s desire to own more of its content outright and the high cost of licensing the rights to Marvel’s IP were contributing factors to its decision to part ways with Marvel back in 2019.
It might not have seemed as if Marvel gained anything by letting those shows come to their respective ends. But in the time since Matt Murdock and the rest of the the Netflix gang faded into void of cancellation (but not on-screen death), they’ve all taken on a mystique and developed a fervor around them that contrasts with how they were once seen as the B-team. Marvel’s let those bits of fan-favorite IP go fallow for so long, all the while building up a whole new television production arm wholly-focused on new series, which in turn has created a level of hype around them that likely wouldn’t have been the case if they’d immediately been dropped into the movies. As annoying in the moment that might be to fans, that’s the sort of long game move that can lead to box office smashes when executed well.
What remains to be seen in the case of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil (who might just show up in Spider-Man: No Way Home) is how well this sort of team-up works from a storytelling perspective, both in terms of how it serves the film, and how (if at all) addresses the past.
Daredevil is now streaming on Netflix, and Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters on December 17.
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