One of the most frustrating debates in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the subject of canon—more specifically, that of the canonicity of previous Marvel Entertainment material, which basically refers to all of the Marvel shows that aired prior to Disney+. This includes fan-favorite shows like Agents of SHIELD and The Runaways, and, most relevant to today’s MCU content, Netflix's Daredevil.
The previous Charlie Cox-led show has come up the most when it comes to the topic of MCU canon. Ever since the re-introduction of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin in Hawkeye and Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been aggressively arguing if the characters' previous shows on Netflix are entirely canon to the MCU.
With Daredevil’s return in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, those questions are coming up once more. Now, thanks to commentary from Marvel.com, the topic of Daredevil’s canon has come up again—but does it give a concrete answer?
Marvel Addresses the Daredevil Canon
In introducing an interview with the cast and crew of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Marvel.com seemingly addressed the canon debate, stating that “he’s very much the same Matt Murdock audiences have come to know and love over the years.”
However, that particular topic is promptly dropped as the outlet moves on to feature Tatiana Maslany discussing her time with Matt Murdock on the show, where the She-Hulk actress pointed out how much she enjoyed “the dynamic between [Matt Murdock] and Jen:”
“Knowing that Charlie was taking this character on again and that we got to reintroduce him through this show, the dynamic between him and Jen is so, so special.”
Jessica Gao, the head writer of the series, was thrilled to learn that the show could use both Matt Murdock and his hero counterpart, Daredevil. She exclaimed that it “made so much sense” to see She-Hulk and Daredevil together since they're both "lawyers by day" and "Super Heroes outside of the office:"
“It just made so much sense that he would be on this show because both he and Jen are lawyers by day, Super Heroes outside of the office, even though Jen is doing it reluctantly. What better character to kind of show how this struggle she’s having is possible?”
With Marvel Comics writer Cody Ziglar having penned the big Daredevil episode, Gao made sure to note how he has “a lot of Daredevil love,” which really played into his writing for this particular installment:
“When we first heard that we could use Daredevil and we started trying to break this episode, during that first conversation, at one point, Cody pulled a Daredevil comic out of his backpack. It was somehow already opened to the page he was talking about, and was waving it around and pointing at the panels that he was referring to. So this episode was written by somebody with a lot of Daredevil love.”
When it comes to the canon debut regarding the fan-favorite character, it’s a topic that’s come up a few times from various cast members.
Kingpin’s Vincent D’Onofrio previously noted that on Hawkeye, they “tried to do the same thing” with his character as seen on the Netflix show, while also admitting there were some “dots that [couldn’t] be connected:”
"It’s the same character. Yeah, I mean, the way that we saw it on Hawkeye, or [what] I ended up believing, is that there are [as] many dots connected as we can possibly connect, and some are just impossible to connect. But I think… it's the same as a lot of the MCU stuff that's done, that Kevin [Feige] does, and all the incredible filmmakers, you know, they try to connect to the original stuff as much as they can. … But then there's dots that can't be connected. And I think we tried to do the same thing with connecting Daredevil to… or Hawkeye to Daredevil and Daredevil to Hawkeye. You know, it's like that."
More recently, star Charlie Cox stated that he feels the upcoming Disney+ Daredevil: Born Again series feels like a “whole new deal” that marks a new era for the character, independent from the Netflix series. Cox even cited that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige “talks about (Daredevil: Born Again) as being a Season 1, rather than a Season 4:”
“Yeah, I don’t know. But my instinct is based on the name of the show, it’s called Born Again, the fact… that Kevin [Feige] talks about it as being a Season 1, rather than a Season 4, my feeling is, this is a whole new deal, you know?”
Does She-Hulk Solve Daredevil's Canon Debate?
Now, many will take these new words to mean that the MCU's Daredevil that appeared in She-Hulk was the exact Matt Murdock seen in Netflix's Daredevil—and it seems that's a fine interpretation to have.
However, those words aren’t coming from someone directly involved in the show—but rather from a writer at Marvel.com. There have been previous examples of the site using poor wording to describe Daredevil's Marvel timeline, such as when it initially explained that Matt Murdock's appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home was a direct continuation of Netlfix's Daredevil character before the explanation was removed following much attention from the internet.
Also, previous comments from stars Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox (as mentioned above) show that there are conflicting claims are being said across the board, even from the main cast members that are returning to these roles.
It sure would be nice to see Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige simply come out and give the world a yes-or-no answer—though, maybe avoiding answering the question clearly is an answer in itself.
Marvel’s overall approach to the returning characters so far seems to hint at selective canonicity. Basically, everything is canon until it clashes with the world the MCU has already established. Up until this point, there has yet to be anything that directly conflicts with one another when adding Daredevil to the equation, so it still leaves the answer unclear.
It’s also important to think about how relevant Multiverse Variants are to the MCU currently. The best examples of this are some of the villains, and even returning Spideys, in Spider-Man: No Way Home—many believe that they could be considered Variants who are only slightly different than their original counterparts seen in their own films; an easy way to ignore any inconsistencies with the characters or their histories that fans are already obsessed with.
Debate on this subject will likely continue to rage on in what is sure to be more than civil discourse. Sadly, fans might have to wait until Daredevil: Born Again before the world has a non-refutable yes-or-no answer to the big MCU canon question.
She-Hulk's latest episode featuring Daredevil is now streaming on Disney+, while Daredevil: Born Again will premiere at some point in Spring 2024.