Could Daredevil: Born Again Offer A Soft Reboot For Marvel's Defenders?

When Marvel's gritty Netflix shows were first canceled, it sent the fans of those characters into a rightful panic. The shows might have been hit-or-miss, but they were arguably some of the better Marvel stories out there, and Netflix seemed like the perfect place to let their darker, street-level characters be their best selves. However, many assumed that Marvel would find a way to introduce the characters from the "Defenders" Saga into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper sooner or later. Rumors of a cameo from the likes of Charlie Cox's Daredevil or Jon Bernthal's Punisher seemed to swirl with each new Marvel Cinematic Universe project — but nothing ever came to fruition until "Spider-Man: No Way Home." There, the rumors were finally true, and it opened the door for even more cameos from the Defenders.

After Cox appeared for his brief (and brilliant) cameo as Peter Parker's legal counsel in "No Way Home," Vincent D'Onofrio reprised his role as Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, in "Hawkeye." Now, both are set to appear in the Disney+ series "Echo" before getting their real rematch in the "Daredevil" revival, "Born Again."

There hasn't been a lot of info, plot-wise, regarding "Born Again" just yet, but if we want to get technical, it could very well follow the plot of the comic storyline of the same name written by Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzucchelli. The story follows Matt on a mission to rebuild his life after the Kingpin discovers his secret identity — and if that sounds familiar, it's because "Daredevil" already sampled heavily from the "Born Again" storyline in its third season. So does that mean "Born Again" will look to "resurrect" Daredevil in a different way? And will this same treatment trickle down to other fan favorites in the Defenders-verse?

Multiverse of madness, indeed

With all the chatter about the multiverse in the MCU of late, it's become much easier for Marvel to introduce and re-introduce the characters that fans have been waiting to see. "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" proved that any character is now fair game, and they don't all have to hail from Earth-616 to get some screentime in the MCU. "Multiverse" set a precedent for mutants and Inhumans to cross over into the larger universe of the films, but it also rewrote an unofficial rule that had separated the movies from the shows for a long time.

Ever since the days of "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," the Marvel shows have existed on the periphery of the MCU. In some cases, the events of those shows run parallel to major events in the films — "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." crisscrossed with "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in its first season, and the Netflix shows continually referenced the Battle of New York that took place in "The Avengers" — but the question of whether those shows are actually MCU canon is murky at best. 

Thanks to the multiverse though, it doesn't have to be explained anymore. Anson Mount can appear as Black Bolt in "Multiverse of Madness" because he's from another universe. So can Patrick Stewart's Professor X, and a version of Reed Richards as portrayed by John Krasinski. But what of our heroes from the "Defenders" Saga? As it stands, the Netflix shows aren't technically canon in the MCU either. Does this imply that they, too, hail from a different reality? It just might. And it also raises serious questions about the "Defenders" characters that could appear in future MCU projects.

A different Daredevil?

There's a chance that the Matt Murdock we saw in "No Way Home" is not the same Matt Murdock from "Daredevil," but rather his 616 counterpart. Bringing characters from non-canon Marvel projects into the MCU is inherently messy work, and for that reason, "Born Again" might choose to forgo that work altogether. The Disney+ series could introduce Daredevil as a different version of the character. To any die-hard fan of all that the Netflix shows accomplished (guilty), this rightfully raises concern. You can't just erase everything that went down across three seasons and one frustrating team-up event — at least not with the weight of an entire fandom breathing down your neck.

On the other hand (and hear me out), a fresh start could be just what Daredevil needs. It'd be an interesting way to remedy some of the issues fans had with the Netflix series, like the full scope of Matt's powers, which were never fully explored. It's possible that radar vision and hypersensitive touch were a bit too "out there" for a show so immersed in its grounded, gritty themes. But in the MCU — where a wizard can astral project into a zombified version of his own body — nothing is off the table. "Born Again" could take its assignment literally, and in doing so, reforge Daredevil into the weird little guy he's always sort of been.

There's also the chance that Matt Murdock will be rebuilding his life within the context of Thanos' snap, another plot that could deliver on all that "born again" suggests. However, this skews close to Sam Wilson's subplot in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier." As monumental as the Snap was, it seems like Marvel is finally moving away from that as the Multiverse Saga continues.

The gang's all here

Whatever course "Born Again" decides to take, it inevitably sets a precedent for other characters from the "Defenders" universe. There are already rumors that Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones will be joining Cox in "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law." And with her original Netflix show getting a new-ish title on Disney+, Marvel Studios is surely considering bringing the Defenders into the fold one way or another. But how will they explain why it's taken these characters so long to get the MCU treatment?

The simplest solution would be not to explain it at all. The "Defenders" Saga fits seamlessly into the MCU at large, in part because the stories are so self-contained. Folding them in with little fanfare would certainly help maintain the threads that they had built up before they were canceled. Jessica herself was poised to confront Killgrave, her truly terrifying adversary from season 1, at the end of "Jessica Jones." And very few people loved "Iron Fist," but the second and final season set up so many promising threads for some of its best characters. I'm not saying that a soft reboot would make a "Daughters of the Dragon" spin-off any less feasible than it currently is, but these characters already have so much momentum, and it'd be a shame to see it stalled.

Either way, this transition is going to be messy. Not everyone will agree with whatever choice Marvel makes. But at the end of the day, isn't it just a relief to know that these characters — not just Daredevil — could get another lease on life?