Early in March, Disney announced that the Defenders series of Netflix shows and the ABC-produced Agents of SHIELD would make their way to Disney+ on March 15. This means shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and, yes, Daredevil, will all appear alongside the mainline MCU movies and series.
Marvel hasn’t commented on whether these shows are considered canonical or if they’re going to appear as “alternate reality” features, like Fox’s X-Men series, that also live on Disney+. However, the news has fans excited for the futures of these beloved shows and the star-studded casts that brought them to life.
Now, everyone is wondering whether Disney will make Daredevil Season 4, or indeed follow-ups to any of the Netflix Defenders shows. What’s next for the MCU’s darkest shows?
Spoiler warning! Spoilers for the Netflix Marvel shows and recent entries Hawkeye and Spider-Man: No Way Home follow after the break. If you haven’t caught up on these shows or movies, read on at your own peril!
Is ‘Daredevil’ Even Canon Anymore?
The first question fans have is whether the events of the Netflix shows are canon to the rest of the MCU. Daredevil takes place after the events of The Avengers, with characters overtly referencing the Chitauri invasion and the appearance of modern-day superheroes. But does the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe share this enthusiasm for its sibling franchise?
So far, nothing is suggesting that Daredevil and The Defenders aren’t canonical. Charlie Cox recently reprised his role as Matt Murdock in the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home, though his co-stars Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson don’t appear during the brief cameo. Likewise, Vincent D’Onofrio returns as Wilson Fisk in the Disney+ Hawkeye series.
These appearances don’t make any reference to the first three seasons of Daredevil. This approach leaves the door open for Disney to borrow from the Netflix shows or wipe the slate clean, whichever it thinks is the best approach for the future of the characters.
Big Names Return
Fans adored Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox for their jaw-dropping performances in Daredevil. Charlie Cox is spot-on as Matt Murdock, bringing an astonishing depth and realism to the character. D’Onofrio, likewise, steals every scene he appears in, bringing Kingpin’s physicality and menace to the small screen.
Cox delighted viewers when he returned to play Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The blind defense attorney comes to Peter Parker’s aid after Mysterio outs him as Spider-Man to the world. Murdock assures Peter that the charges against him won’t hold since the evidence is entirely circumstantial. He then catches a brick thrown through Peter’s window, asserting that he can do so because he’s an exceptional lawyer.
While Cox’s minor cameo in Spider-Man was more of a short teaser, D’Onofrio plays the central villain in Hawkeye. Audiences learn that Kingpin is the menacing “big guy” behind the scenes of New York’s criminal underground in the penultimate episode of the series. Clint Barton and Kate Bishop struggle to untangle Kingpin’s stranglehold on the city by tackling the Tracksuit Mafia, a group of muscle-bound gangsters that answers to Kingpin’s lieutenant, Maya.
Comics fans will recognize Maya as the superhero Echo, a deaf martial artist who can mimic the fighting style of any opponent. In the comics, Wilson Fisk raises Maya like his own daughter. However, the heroic vigilante eventually learns that her father figure is a dangerous criminal and lashes out at him, blinding him in a brutal confrontation.
In the final episode of Hawkeye, Maya seemingly kills Kingpin off-screen as the crime lord crawls away from his defeat at the hands of Kate Bishop. However, many fans feel like the scene is a misdirect, and that D’Onofrio will return to reprise the role in a later Dinsey+ series.
After all, Maya’s betrayal offers the perfect chance for the writers to introduce a blinded but still dangerous version of Kingpin. This would offer a poetic symmetry between Kingpin and his nemesis, Daredevil.
Why Bring Them Back?
Disney might be preparing to make Daredevil Season 4. After all, Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio are now officially part of the MCU. The Netflix shows are coming to Disney+ in mid-March. Why would Disney make these moves if it wasn’t planning to use the actors in another project?
The company could also use the characters in unrelated Marvel movies and shows without overtly referencing the events of The Defenders or their respective shows. There’s no word yet on whether stars like Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, or Finn Jones will reappear to reprise their Netflix characters.
Disney might intend to only use Cox and D’Onofrio, as they were easily the two most popular actors from the Netflix series. However, many fans hope that this news means the entire Defenders crossover franchise, including shows like Punisher and Iron Fist, make their way back into the mainline MCU.
Semblance of Continuity?
Disney might leave the Netflix shows in a not-quite-canon limbo. While critics and fans adored Daredevil’s first and third seasons, the show’s second season divided viewers. Likewise, the second seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage drew mixed reviews, and critics loathed Iron Fist. Punisher was better-received than some of its sibling shows, but its darker subject matter might make Disney hesitate before rolling Frank Castle into the next Avengers movie.
However, Disney is aware that the Netflix shows are the most well-known modern representations of the company’s street-level characters. It could decide to use the Netflix shows as background radiation for future stories without explicitly acknowledging their story beats.
Many fans assumed the Netflix shows would migrate to Hulu after reverting to Disney’s control. After all, Disney funnels most of its mature content into that platform. Movies like Deadpool and edgier shows like MODOK appear on Hulu, far from the kid-friendly fare seen on Disney+. Daredevil and Jessica Jones, meanwhile, deal with darker subject matter that could shock some children.
Disney confirmed that the Netflix shows would arrive on the platform alongside a new suite of parental controls. These will allow parents to block kids’ accounts from accessing mature content and will enable Disney to experiment with adding more adult-themed shows to the platform. Some fans pointed out that upcoming shows like Moon Knight could be distressing for young viewers and wondered whether the Disney+ platform would restrict what kind of content the creators could include in their shows.
These new controls will give Disney ways to introduce darker content without upsetting parents. This is a win-win for fans–Marvel Shows can all appear in the same ecosystem without Disney splitting them between Hulu and Disney+. Some fans have speculated that this could also allow Disney to allow future Star Wars shows to dip into darker themes.
Is Star Wars Next?
Some upcoming Star Wars shows could benefit from the introduction of parental controls to Disney+. For example, Andor will focus on one of the protagonists of Rogue One, Cassian Andor. Cassian famously tells Jyn Erso that he’s been part of the Rebellion since he was a child, and notes that he’s done horrible things to keep the resistance going. As such, Andor could benefit from a darker tone and heavier themes than other Star Wars shows.
The upcoming Kenobi series might also delve into more mature subject matter than The Mandalorian and The Bad Batch. The show will follow Obi-Wan Kenobi’s adventures between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The Age of the Empire was a brutal time for denizens of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, so Obi-Wan might have to deal with the seedy underbelly of Tatooine or the vicious Purge Troopers and Inquisitors of the Empire.
Bright Future for Disney+ Shows
Fans of Marvel and Star Wars shows have a lot to look forward to. New seasons of The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian are just around the corner, and Loki’s second season will arrive before the end of the year. New shows like Andor and Moon Knight will arrive on the platform this year, too, giving fans tons of chances to see their favorite characters in action.
With any luck, Daredevil Season 4 will be among these forthcoming shows. At the very least, we hope to see Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio reprising their roles in other MCU content very soon!