In a few weeks, Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil will make his highly anticipated appearance in Marvel Studios’ streaming series, She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. General audiences have seen footage of The Man Without Fear in teasers, trailers, and Episode 5 of the series, “Mean, Green and Straight Poured into These Jeans”, ended with a glimpse of Ol’ Hornhead’s new hornhead, getting fans primed for his eventual entrance. And while Murdock has already appeared in one MCU project in the past year, his brief cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home didn’t give fans enough time to get a sense of who he is. That’s all about to change and it’s a foregone conclusion that a whole lot of fans aren’t going to like it.
Reading between the lines-hell, just reading the lines-of everything anyone associated with She-Hulk: Attorney At Law has had to say about Daredevil appearing in the show, it’s clear that Marvel Studios, who regained the live-action rights to the character just a couple of years ago, is rebooting the character in a way that seems to knock the three season of the Netflix series off the required viewing list. It’s not to say fans of Daredevil can’t still enjoy the show and that new fans couldn’t watch it and glean some important information from it. It’s just that this doesn’t seem to be the EXACT SAME Matt Murdock.
Marvel Studios is smart here to let this play out on screen without ever giving a definitive answer because it allows them to both keep the conversation alive (all publicity is good publicity) and to “keep” the parts of the story built on Netflix that they like attached to the character, if only in the minds of the people who watched it. So much as they did with Peter Parker, they probably won’t redo the whole origin story and new fans will just get a condensed version of how this seemingly ordinary, blind lawyer ended up as a ninja with supersenses. However, when the character appears on She-Hulk in a few weeks, it’ll start to become pretty obvious that this version has some different bells and whistles.
As part of the Marvel Studios Showcase at D23 Expo 2022, fans were treated to an exclusive first look at a scene from the DD episode of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law. The scene, involving Jen as Jen and Matt as an All-New, All-Different Daredevil, complete in his brand new mustard yellow suit, took place on a rooftop and instantly gave the audience the visual equivalent of the new car smell. Everything about Cox’s performance from his demeanor to his cadence, to the flirtatious nature of his interactions with Jen felt intentionally different. It’s not to say Cox never smiled or had a good time playing the character on Netflix; it’s more that he’s playing the character with a different bent here and one that tonally fits what fans have come to know about She-Hulk.
And it’s not just Cox’s delivery that’s different. It’s more nuanced and detailed than that. His movements, his body language and, most notably, the Man Without Fear front flip he does off the top of the building as the scene comes to a close all look and feel brand new. Other than the piss poor handling of The Hand, one of the most frustrating things about the Netflix series was the lack of high-flying, acrobatics. For a character known as, you know, Daredevil, he didn’t do much Daredeviling. Doing some light somersaulting across a rooftop is a long way from the character’s comic book roots and in a 2-minute clip, Marvel Studios managed to get more thrilling acrobatics in than I remember in 3 seasons. That’s not to say he didn’t do any high-flying bits in Daredevil, there were maybe 5 spread out over the years, it’s just to say that it certainly wasn’t a big part of who that character was. Add that to the fancy flip that fans have seen in promo material for the show and you have reason to believe that Marvel Studios is going to make that a part of their DD’s toolbox.
It’s a hard argument to make, especially since his new costume seems to be nothing more than a repainted version of his old costume and that it is the same actor wearing it. And maybe it’s not an argument worth making based on a 2-minute clip, but everything in that clip FEELS like an incredibly intentional effort to let fans know that while this is the character they know and love, it’s not exactly the character they know and love.
Ultimately, Cox’s one-episode and change appearance in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law may not provide enough evidence to definitively say whether or not this MCU version of the character really is an All-New, All-Different Daredevil. That might be something that isn’t entirely clear until his longer appearance in Echo ahead of his own 18-episode series, Daredevil: Born Again. It also might be something that’s never made crystal clear. However, what is clear is that when everyone sees Cox’s performance in She-Hulk, it’s going to cause quite the stir on social media and message boards, because no matter how hard people want to hold on to what they love, this appearance looks like it’ll sound the death knell for the canonical relevance for the Netflix version of the character, which may die a slow death over several years.