Matt Murdock, the brilliant attorney from Hell’s Kitchen, New York, is secretly Daredevil, the Man Without Fear who protects innocent people by night. He’s one of Marvel’s most iconic vigilantes, a red-clad bruiser who takes the law into his own hands when the justice system fails the people of New York.
Charlie Cox starred as the title character in the fantastic 2014 Netflix series Daredevil, giving a passionate performance that made him a fan-favorite actor. When the series first aired, it was a notable partnership between Marvel Studios and Netflix, and the show treated the events of the MCU as canon. However, the MCU itself never touched the Netflix universe, even as heroes like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist made their way to the small screen.
Now, with Charlie Cox back in the role and set to star in another Daredevil series on Disney+, it’s time to look back at the character’s complete timeline. He’s been through quite a few ups and downs over the years and has recently teamed up with Jennifer Walters on the Disney+ show She-Hulk. So, where did we leave Matt at the end of the third season of Daredevil, and how might that show’s events influence the upcoming Daredevil: Born Again?
Daredevil Season 1
In the first season of Daredevil, we meet Matt Murdock just as he and his best friend Foggy Nelson establish their law practice together in New York City. The duo chooses to practice in Hell’s Kitchen, a region recently devastated by the Battle of New York seen in The Avengers, and they choose to take on cases from average people to help them stand up to corporate bullies.
The show offers a slow burn, introducing audiences to Matt’s nighttime proclivity for donning a ninja mask and beating up goons. As Matt lives a double life, his legal and vigilante work lead him to uncover a conspiracy involving public funds and a mysterious criminal kingpin pulling the strings behind the scenes. Once Matt unmasks the Kingpin as the villainous Wilson Fisk, the fight becomes personal.
The towering Fisk, played by the excellent Vincent D’Onofrio, is a formidable opponent. He’s well-insulated from legal attacks thanks to his army of lawyers. He’s got enough money to keep the DA in his pocket. And, if someone attacks him directly, he’s strong enough to just beat them to a pulp. Matt perseveres, though, defeating Fisk and having him shipped off to jail, supposedly making New York safer.
Daredevil Season 2
In the show’s second season, Matt throws himself headlong into his role as Daredevil–at the expense of his legal practice and relationships with Foggy and his ally Karen Page. Karen was integral in taking down Fisk, but now that he’s gone, the trio has moved on and takes any case they can get. Meanwhile, Karen gets mixed up with a dangerous vigilante named Frank Castle.
Unlike Matt, Frank utilizes lethal force in his battle against crime. Matt and Foggy end up taking Frank on as a client after he’s arrested for numerous murders. Meanwhile, Daredevil is dealing with the dangerous criminal organization known as “The Hand” while also dealing with the return of a former girlfriend, the dangerous ninja assassin Elektra.
Matt learns that burning the candle at both ends doesn’t last long, and his firm loses the case to defend Frank Castle–he’s sent to prison, but Fisk quickly breaks him out, seeing him as an asset. With Castle and Elektra, Daredevil stops the Hand’s evil schemes in New York, but Elektra is killed in the process. Matt confesses his secret identity to Karen to explain his erratic behavior, leading her to mistrust him for all his lies.
In the crossover series The Defenders, Matt returns to work as a lawyer full-time. The Hand resurrects Elektra as “The Black Sky,” a dangerous living weapon they can use to destroy civilization. Matt teams up with three other superheroes–Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand–to face off against the Hand and is visibly distraught at seeing Elektra returned to life by the arcane magic the criminal cabal uses.
The group learns that the Hand is led by five elders from a mythical plane called K’un Lun, the same land that Danny Rand trained in to become the Iron Fist. The Hand plans to use the Black Sky to defeat their remaining enemies, including Matt’s mentor, Stick, and harvest dragon bones found under New York.
Matt and the other superheroes confront the villains under the city in a climactic battle. There, he dons the Daredevil persona once more, content to embrace his second life as a superhero if it means he can stop the Hand from using Elektra as a weapon. The group’s battle destroys the dragon bones and brings the entire underground complex crumbling down–crushing and apparently killing both Matt and Elektra in the process.
Daredevil Season 3
Matt, ever the survivor, manages to escape certain death in the aftermath of The Defenders. His mother, a nun named Maggie, finds him and helps nurse him back to health. Matt, fully committed to living as Daredevil full-time now that he’s presumed dead, continues training while living at Saint Agnes Orphanage, where he grew up. Meanwhile, Kingpin manages to get a sweetheart deal with the DA to establish himself once more as a major player in the criminal underworld.
The FBI sets Fisk up in a penthouse as a form of “home arrest” and uses him as an informant to help bring down notable underworld criminals. Matt, furious that Fisk is essentially free, makes a point of trying to take Kingpin down again. He reluctantly reveals his survival to Foggy and Karen to warn them to steer clear of Fisk.
Fisk hires a deadly NYPD sharpshooter named Dex to be part of his security detail. He has Dex impersonate Daredevil and attack several federal agents, incriminating Matt and upping the stakes. In a climactic turn of events, Matt convinces Dex to work with him to bring down Kingpin after learning that Fisk had Dex’s love interest, Julie, murdered. Matt faces Fisk in his penthouse and brutally beats him down, sparing his life and having him sent back to jail once and for all.
Rumors and MCU Reemergence
In late 2018, Marvel canceled the Netflix shows, including Daredevil, leaving the Defenders characters in limbo. Matt, Foggy, and Karen ended the third season of Daredevil back on good terms, leaving the door open for future stories with the Man Without Fear. However, the complex rights issues related to Marvel’s agreement with Netflix created an unusual gray area with the character for years.
Finally, in 2021, rumors began swirling that Marvel would bring Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio back to reprise their roles. In late 2021, these rumors proved true: Cox appeared in a brief cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home, representing Peter Parker in a high-profile criminal case. While he never donned the Daredevil suit during this short appearance, his reemergence in the MCU delighted fans.
Likewise, D’onofrio returned to the small screen with 2021’s Hawkeye. After numerous twists and turns, that six-episode miniseries culminated in the reveal that Kingpin was behind the Track Suit Mafia’s dealings in New York, making him the hidden antagonist of the entire series.
Charlie Cox reprised his role in the Disney+ series She-Hulk, finally debuting his new MCU suit and getting back into action as The Man Without Fear. His new suit was briefly teased in a stinger shot in super-tailor Luke Jacobson’s workshop, showing Matt’s new horned helmet in a box. He made his full appearance in Episode 8, Ribbit and Rip It, representing Jacobson in a liability case before donning the red-and-gold armor to fight the villainous Leapfrog.
While She-Hulk has a lighter tone and goofier overall feel than the Netflix Daredevil series, fans were still delighted to see Charlie Cox back in the suit. He’s such a natural fit in the role that the more easygoing show didn’t feel incongruous around him–after all, She-Hulk is about Jennifer Walters, a more laid-back character who has fewer moments of brooding and more fourth-wall-breaking asides than Daredevil ever would.
The Disney+ series Daredevil: Born Again will debut at some point in 2024. Rumor has it that the show will begin filming in late 2022 and that filming will take nearly a year. This means the earliest we could expect Born Again would be sometime in Spring 2024, allowing the effects team a few months for post-production work.
Thankfully, Daredevil probably won’t need heavy CGI or visual effects beyond some color correction and a few flashy action scenes. The Netflix series was renowned for its stunt work, practical effects, and lavishly choreographed fight sequences. If Disney retains this approach, the long filming schedule would make sense. After all, creating believable fight scenes with practical effects is hard work!
Are you excited to see Charlie Cox back on the small screen in the role he helped popularize? For our part, 2024 can’t come soon enough. Bring on the hallway fights and brooding monologues!