How 'Daredevil' Connects To The Marvel Cinematic Universe And 'Agents Of SHIELD'

Since Disney announced that Marvel had signed on to make a series of Netflix television shows, fans have wondered how they would tie into the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. Daredevil went live on Netflix today and we got to talk to the cast and crew to get some answers about those connections. We'll figure out how Daredevil connects not only to the MCU, but to other Marvel television series, whether Agents of SHIELD or other Netflix series. We'll dig in to find out how the show deals with easter eggs and references to the Marvel comic book series it has been adapted from, and much more. We have a lot of insight on the Daredevil TV connections from the creators that you can't read anywhere else, so dig in!

How a Marvel Television Series Gets Made

Before we get into the connections, lets find out how a television series like Daredevil gets made, and how that collaboration is done between the many Marvel subsidiaries. Jeph Loeb, Daredevil Executive Producer and the Head of Marvel Television, explained to us how Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios and Marvel Television work together to produce a television series:

I think people look at Marvel and see us as a giant octopus that's out to swallow the entire galaxy. And we are. But in fact we are a rather small company. Kevin Feige and Louis D'Esposito who run the motion picture division, and myself and Jim Corey, who is the Head of Production in the television division, and then I think you all have probably heard at some point that there is a creative committee that sort of oversees everything that we do and that includes Alan Fine, Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada. We talk all the time. We're just down the hall. So it's one of those things where if something cool happens on SHIELD last night, you know, the folks over on the feature side can look at that and go oh, that's cool. You did that and oh, can we, we're gonna work off that. Or oftentimes happens the other way around. Where we're aware of what's gonna happen in movies to come and know there's you can't get any information out of my 'cause I actually have a cyanide capsule that's implanted in my tooth. I suddenly start foaming at the mouth.

Jeff then explained the secret sauce behind the connected Marvel Universe:

What we try to do is, you know, I get teased a lot, because I say hashtag it's connected. I don't just mean the Marvel Universe is connected, we're all connected. And so we very much are aware that each story that we tell impacts another story. And this goes back to the days of publishing where, you know, just because you are writing Spider-Man it didn't mean that you could just do anything you wanted. You had to make sure that the villains that you were using and the stories that you were telling were tied into whatever was going on in the much larger universe. But by the same token that you could tell your own story and not have to worry about whether or not what was going on. But if something significant was happening like Sam Wilson was now Captain America, you did not want to refer to Captain America as Steve Rogers. And so that more than anything else is the kind of thing that helps us along the way.

You know, when we decided to do these characters, part of what made it exciting for us is that, you know, the Avengers characters are in the motion pictures and Kevin and his group do it better than anybody else. They're just these awe inspiring, giant, epic adventures that at the end of the day have a very strong, heroic element to it. But those characters are here to save the universe. What we wanted to be able to do was just move over a few blocks and down a few avenues and there's an area called Hell's Kitchen which is very different than the world of Tony Stark. Instead, we could have heroes that were street level heroes that were there to save the neighborhood.

The Avengers Won't Be Coming to Hell's Kitchen

Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD has its occasional big screen crossover with a Marvel Cinematic Universe character showing up on the small screen, but don't expect to ever see The Avengers show up in Hell's Kitchen. Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us:

And definitely you won't see Iron Man, you won't see Thor, you won't see any of those characters. And I always liken that to, you know, we live in a world where Brad Pitt exists, but it's how many people have actually stood next to him in line? You know, you don't really see Brad Pitt. You know he's out there. But you don't really see him. And that's kind of the world we exist in.

And thats the key, this series is set on a very specific area. Showrunner Steven DeKnight explains that Daredevil is set in "the dark corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe."

Obviously we make references to the other things in there. But I always refer to, you know, the Marvel Cinematic Universe generally deals with the gods of the Marvel Universe. With your Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk. They're usually saving the world or the universe. Where these are the street level heroes with Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand. And they save the neighborhood. So one of the great things that I thought was very liberating that Marvel really wanted is they wanted, you know, a tonal and visual distinction from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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How Daredevil Is Connected to Agents of SHIELD

But the show sometimes connects with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Television Universe in ways you wouldn't have predicted. For instance, here is how Daredevil is connected to Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Season 2. In one Daredevil episode, we see flashback references to a boxing match between Battlin' Jack Murdock — Matt Murdock's father — and Carl "Crusher" Creel.  Jack is forced to throw the fight even though his son doesn't want him to.

In the comics, Creel is the Absorbing Man. The character started out as a "boxer and jailed criminal who becomes the Absorbing Man when he drinks a liquid which the Asgardian god Loki laced with a magic potion. Discovering that he could absorb the properties of anything he touched, Creel escapes prison by absorbing metal from the guards' bullets and goes on to battle Thor."

Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us why he decided to include Creel in Daredevil but also Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD:

We did a little one that's been out there that's been kind of a wink, which was that Crusher Creel is a character who's been around a long time, The Absorbing Man. And I was the first one who decided that because in certain versions of the story, he was a wrestler, 'cause a lot of people were wrestlers back in when these characters were created in the '60s. And so I was the one in Daredevil Yellow who said, "what if Crusher Creel, before he became The Absorbing Man, was a boxer and he's the one that fought Battling Jack?" So that you could have this sort of little wink. And so when we started talking about doing one of the fights for Battling Jack, we said, let's put Crusher Creel in that. It was really more of a wink at Daredevil Yellow than it was in anything else.

Meanwhile, over at SHIELD, we were talking about okay, who's gonna be our first character that's gonna come up on this season? And we started talking about The Absorbing Man. And so here was this opportunity and there's this one little line that sort of is wedged in there where the sportscaster says, you know, Battling Jack Murdock is doing very well against the much younger Crusher Creel, so that in case you're playing the home game, trying to figure out how it all fits in, and because we started with the idea that Mike Tyson was championship of the world when he was 19 years old. So and Brian who played the character in SHIELD looks like he's in sort of his mid 30's. And if you sort of do the math, it kind of works. So that's the kind of thing that you can do. But it was interesting 'cause earlier one someone asked me are they two different characters? We're like no, it's the same thing. That's what's happened. You just gotta be careful how often you do it. Otherwise, it starts to distract from the story. If you're looking for Captain America's shield in a scene, instead of watching what's going on, then you've taken away from the drama of the scene.

(Brian Patrick Wade plays The Absorbing Man in Agents of SHIELD Season 2.)

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Daredevil Is Filled With Marvel Comics Easter Eggs

And while we may never see The Avengers in the Marvel Netflix shows, we will feel their presence in this world from a newspaper prop in the background to a subplot about the reconstruction of the New York City after the battle of New York.

The show is also filled with easter eggs that the fans of the comic books and marvel comic universe will enjoy, if you can spot them. Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us that they've thought "a great deal" about how many references and easter eggs will be featured in Daredevil. He said he "always gives credit to Joss, who said we want there to be Easter eggs but we don't want it to be an Easter egg farm." Showrunner Steven DeKnight explains:

You know, I can't reveal any of the Easter eggs. All I can say is there are a ton of them in there. And some of them are so deep and obscure that literally Megan Thomas Bradner, one of our Marvel people, whenever we would need a sign in the background or a name, she would send us a list and I've read comics all my life and I look at this list and say I don't recognize any of this stuff. I'd have to go on Marvel Wiki to figure out what these are.

Some of the more obvious easter eggs include:

  • Foggy hangs out with Karen in Josie's Bar, a hangout in Hell's Kitchen which has been in the comics since Daredevil #160. In the comic book series, Josie's bar is usually frequented by Daredevil when he's looking for information.
  • One of the framed New York Bulletins seen in the background of Ben Urich's office is a cover story on the Battle of New York, the climactic battle from The Avengers.
  • People are profiting off the rebuilding from the battle of New York as seen in The Avengers.
  • In the first and third episodes Rob Morgan plays a character named Turk Barrett, a small time criminal from the Marvel Comics Universe. He first appeared in Daredevil volume 1 issue #69 (published in October 1970) and was created by writers Gary Friedrich and Roy Thomas and artist Gene Colan.
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall plays Ben Urich in the show. In the comic book he is a chain-smoking tough-as-nails investigative journalist for The Daily Bugle, the same paper that Peter Parker works for. Of course, Marvel didnt have the screen rights to the newspaper as it's primarily part of the Spiderman universe owned cinematically by Sony.

Its worth noting that multiple times the show presents the New York skyline as a grand backdrop but we were unable to spot Stark/Avengers tower anywhere amongst the skyscrapers.

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The Show and All of Marvel's Netflix Shows Are Set in New York City

Daredevil is set and was shot in New York City. Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us that the idea has always been t be "able to make New York City a character in the show." Showrunner Steven DeKnight admits "I don't think the show would have turned out nearly as well if we weren't shooting in New York. It just, it has a feel that you just cannot get anywhere else."

So don't expect to see Daredevil leave New York State; we won't be seeing the San Francisco years of the comics. Also don't expect to see Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Danny Rand or any of the other Netflix Marvel characters to venture out of Manhattan. Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us:

Right now we're focusing on our these first four 13-part stories with Daredevil and Jessica Jones and Luke Cage and Iron Fist. And all those stories will take place in New York City. And that is very important to us to be able to establish their world and where they came from and how they know each other and where their world's colliding with each other.

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How Daredevil Connects With the Other Marvel Netflix Shows

We know that the four Marvel Netflix shows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist will eventually climax in a miniseries event for The Defenders. But don't expect to see any of the other Netflix Marvel characters to show up in Daredevil Season one. Steven told us:

Not in this one, I mean, I couldn't use Jessica Jones, Luke Cage or Danny Rand, 'cause they hadn't been cast yet. It was the last couple of days of shooting the finale when they cast Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. So none of those characters were in the fold yet. You know, moving forward that can certainly happen once everybody's cast.

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Will Daredevil Characters and Locations Be Featured in the Other Series?

But that doesn't mean locations and characters from Daredevil season one won't be seen in the other Marvel Netflix series. Daredevil executive producer Jeph Loeb told us:

One of the things that's very important to us, they'll be very subtle ways ... like there's the hospital where Claire works is someplace that, if you live in New York and there's a hospital nearby, you all go the same hospital. There's no point in having a different hospital. We've very clearly established that there is a police station that's near there where Brett Mahoney works. And so that kind of thing will continue. It may not be that when we get to Jessica Jones that you're going to be seeing Matt Murdock running around, but if you're watching carefully you may go oh that's that nurse that was in the other scene in the other thing. So that it very much feels like you're in that kind of world. It was something that I always loved about in the comics when you, it didn't matter who went up to the Daily Bugle, eventually you ran into Robbie Robertson or Ben Urich or any of the other characters that had been established as working at the Daily Bugle.

Of the main characters, I think Rosario Dawson's character is most likely to be seen in the other series. Rosario Dawson plays Claire Temple, a nurse working at Metro General who has been seeing Daredevil's results from afar and helps fix Matt up after he is discovered injured in a dumpster after a night of vigilantism.  In the comic books, Temple is the ex-wife of Bill Foster and a romantic interest of Luke Cage, after discovering him injured in a similar situation. So it is possible that her character could appear in the other stories.

Its also worth noting a theory floated by my colleague Silas Lesnick at the junket. In the first episodes of Daredevil season one we learn that Claire Temple is apartment-sitting for a friend. Could it be possible that the apartment will be seen in one of the other Netflix shows? Could it be Jessica Jones' residence? That might be cool, and could add to the connected Marvel television universe and save Netflix on set design/construction. But for now, its just a theory.