Will Kingpin's MCU Return Follow Marvel Comics And Send Him To New York's City Hall?

Despite the cancellation of Netflix's "Daredevil" way back in 2018, Marvel Studios didn't let Ol' Hornhead slip through the cracks. Charlie Cox returned as Matt Murdock in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and we eventually saw him suit up as Daredevil in "She-Hulk." Meanwhile, Matt's arch-rival Wilson Fisk/the Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) appeared in "Hawkeye." These were all seeds that will finally sprout with "Daredevil: Born Again," set for release on Disney+ in 2024.

Keep in mind, this series is probably not going to be an adaptation of the eponymous Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli comic story, mainly since season 3 of the Netflix series already covered that ground. Still, the title is too fitting to not use for a revival series (even if Cox insists "Born Again" will stand on its own). What direction will the story of "Born Again" take? If the writers pull from more recent comics, then Wilson Fisk may soon become Mayor Fisk. Indeed, (unconfirmed) reporting from Daniel Richtman suggests that "Born Again" is looking to cast actors to play Fisk's mayoral team.

How did this storyline play out in the comics and is adapting it the right move? Let's dig in.

Mayor Fisk in the comics

"Mayor Fisk" played out in "Daredevil" issues #595 to #600 (art by Stefano Landini for the first three issues, then by Ron Garney in the latter three). It was published from 2017 to 2018 as part of writer Charles Soule's run on the title. As advertised, it featured Fisk being elected Mayor of NYC, bolstered by a good PR campaign after the "Secret Empire" event.

This happened in the last stretch of Soule's run, and the most interesting thing that happens is Matt Murdock became Fisk's Deputy Mayor. This leads to the "Mayor Murdock" arc (issues #601-605, art by Mike Henderson) when Fisk is incapacitated. However, Soule wisely chose to end his run with Fisk still in City Hall. This left his successor as "Daredevil" writer, Chip Zdarsky, the opportunity to play around with Mayor Kingpin even more.

In Zdarsky's run, Fisk decides his mayoralty means it's time to go legitimate. He cedes his criminal empire to rivals but discovers he's made himself a smaller fish in a much bigger pond. Old money power broker siblings the Stromwyns make it clear to Fisk that even as the mayor, he'll never be part of the "big club" they're in. At a high society dinner party, Fisk is treated like a sideshow attraction — eventually, he snaps and beats one of the other guests to death (necessitating a lightning-quick clean-up job by Fisk's assistant James Wesley).

This doesn't mean that Fisk causes no problems for superheroes during his political run, though. During the "Devil's Reign" event (written by Zdarsky, with art by Marco Checchetto), he declares vigilantism illegal in NYC. Super-villains are deputized as a new Thunderbolts team to hunt down the local heroes.

Is adapting Mayor Fisk/Devil's Reign a good idea?

I see how the pieces align for Mayor Fisk in the MCU. Matt working under his nemesis as Deputy Mayor would be a challenge for him worth watching. The Thunderbolts will be getting their own movie in 2024, which could set up the part they play in "Devil's Reign." D'Onofrio is also eager to get screentime with Tom Holland's Spider-Man, and a big-budget film — say, "Spider-Man 4" — could do the scope of "Devil's Reign" justice.

However, Zdarsky's run on "Daredevil" pulls a lot from the Netflix TV series, from Matt's costume to his crises of faith. Kingpin fraternizing with New York's upper crust seems inspired by Netflix's Fisk as well; in "Daredevil" season 1, his criminal empire was a secret and he posed as a philanthropist trying to improve (read: gentrify) Hell's Kitchen. I'd wager that "Daredevil" #12-#13 (with Fisk's aforementioned rage killing) was based in part on episode 4 of Netflix's "Daredevil," where Kingpin beats an associate to death by slamming his head on a car door. Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) was featured in the Netflix series as Fisk's loyal and efficient right-hand, and Zdarsky's portrayal of him owes a lot to that version.

Taking from Zdarsky's run for "Daredevil: Born Again" risks being repetitive. We already saw Fisk trying to get back in the public's good graces during season 3 of Netflix's "Daredevil," but we've only seen him as an out-and-out crime boss for an episode of "Hawkeye," where he led the Tracksuit Mafia. Emphasizing Fisk as out-of-place and subordinate to people like the Stromwyns — as Zdarsky's run did — could offer a fresh twist on the familiar. That opens another problem, though: messaging.

The problem of politics

Zdarsky's "Daredevil" is bitingly political. The Stromwyns and their ilk accepting Fisk as only a pawn is a matter of class hierarchy; he grew up poor so he can never be part of the elite. Meanwhile, Matt's arc is about him, a man of the law, finally understanding something about the law: it's written by and for those who have power. Now, Daredevil has gone from fighting supervillains to preventing evictions. That brings us to Thunderbolts' role in "Devil's Reign." It's an allegory for police brutality and violence on the innocent sanctioned by the state. But frankly, I don't trust the MCU to handle such sensitive political topics.

Look back at the previous Disney+ series "Falcon and The Winter Soldier," which introduced us to Thunderbolts' member John Walker (Wyatt Russell). Episode 4 ends with Walker executing a surrendering prisoner, then the concluding image is a low-angle shot of Walker holding Captain America's blood-stained shield. It's one of the precious few provocative shots in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with purely visual messaging too.

Then, in an embarrassing finale, the series walks that all back. Walker gets a half-hearted redemption while the former Falcon/new Captain America, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), gives a vague "do better" speech to the politicians who created a refugee crisis. Marvel's heroes may have the courage to take a stand, but the company that owns them sure doesn't.

Much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a faint echo of superior comic source material, and unfortunately, I think that's all a live-action "Mayor Fisk" or "Devil's Reign" would be. But maybe there's a way to utilize the storyline and take it a completely different direction. Only time will tell.