With Vincent D’Onofrio and Charlie Cox reprising their respective roles as Kingpin and Matt Murdock this week and rumors swirling that other cast members from the Netflix Defenders-verse series might join them, we decided to take a look at who should come back and who should be left behind. Note that this is not all-encompassing and that there’s no real metric here, much less any consistency. Sometimes we want the actor and not the role; other times we want the role but not the actor; other times we want neither. To make it easy, we cast a verdict on each character: recast the role, reboot the character with the same actor, retire the character or have the same actor reprise the same role. Because the world is hard, sometimes had to pick more than one.
The Big 4
Each of the following actors led at least 2 seasons of a solo series on Netflix as well as popping up in either Defenders or another series.
- Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle
Whether or not Marvel Studios plans on using the Punisher in the near future is certainly a great topic for debate, but that debate is for another day. The topic here is whether or not Bernthal is the man for the job should they chose to bring the character into the MCU and, fortunately, there’s not much of debate to be had. As he almost always does, Bernthal inhabited the role of Castle in a way that many actors just couldn’t do. If we are going to see the Punisher again, it has to be Bernthal.
- Mike Colter as Luke Cage
Colter is a case of Netflix missing the mark on why they cast the character. Colter is a solid actor. His work on CBS’s Evil has been excellent; however, he seems to be, in general, more comfortable in roles that require a more subdued persona and, to me, that’s just not Luke Cage. If Cage is coming back, the actor has to have BIG energy and charisma. The man lead the New Avengers and as much as I love Colter, I can’t see him effectively convincing Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and Captain Marvel that they should be following his orders.
- Finn Jones as Danny Rand
In a shared universe that includes Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi, there’s simply no place for Jones as the Iron Fist. While part of the problem with the character was the way he was written (Rand should be able to kick multiple asses all the time without ever having to use the Iron Fist), it’s impossible to give Jones a pass. He notably didn’t want to train and he’s also just not that great of an actor. If they give Rand another chance, it has to be with another actor.
- Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones
Ritter’s situation is nearly the opposite of Colter’s in that the role of Jones fits her specific talents incredibly well. She looks the part and believably acts the part. While the series ended on a really poor note, Ritter’s time as the character would make it incredibly hard to imagine someone else in the role.
The Supporting Cast
Each of these characters played a major, supporting role in at least one season of the Defenders-verse series.
- Vondie Curtis-Hall as Ben Urich
After giving one of the best performances in Season 1 of Daredevil, Curtis-Hall didn’t get a chance to come back in the role because, well, Kingpin killed off the character. One of the best cases we can make for why the Netflix series should not be canon is so Curtis-Hall can return in a role that could expand beyond Daredevil’s stories and into the greater MCU.
- Rosario Dawson as Clarie Temple
Keep the actress, ditch the character. Dawson is lights out in pretty much everything she does. Fans would love to see her jump into a bigger role like Mahershala Ali, who starred in Luke Cage, was able to do. Sorry, Claire, you stay behind, but bring Rosario into the MCU in a new role.
- Scott Glenn as Stick
One of the most unforgivable offenses made by Netflix over the course of their Defenders-verse series was their portrayal of the Hand. As Charles V. has said over and over again, “it’s really hard to screw up undead ninjas”, but they did it. If there’s one Daredevil-centric thing they could fix that would really spice up the whole MCU, it’s the Hand. And if the Hand is back, Stick should be back and if we’re getting Stick, it’s gotta be Scott Glenn.
- Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson
Foggy is such an important part of the story of Matt Murdock that he absolutely must be involved in whatever stories are told going forward. Henson, however, never seemed the right fit and it’s almost certain a recast would land better with fans.
- Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing
Henwick was one of the brightest stars over the two seasons of Iron Fist. It was recently revealed that she had to pass on a role in Shang-Chi in order to land her role in the upcoming Matrix sequel, so obviously Marvel Studios is keen to work with her again. Henwick should absolutely be in the MCU. Whether that’s as Collen Wing or in another role is the question. Should she enter into the MCU in another role, that would really make it hard to consider Iron Fist “canon”, however. There is certainly a great Daughters of the Dragon story to be tole with Wing and Misty Kinght, should they want to keep Henwick in a version of the same role.
- Simone Missick as Misty Knight
Speaking of…Missick was dynamite as Misty Knight, bringing some of the charisma to Luke Cage that Colter did not. Seeing Missick return as Knight, perhaps to team up with Sam Wilson as she has recently in the comics would be fantastic.
- Debra Ann Woll as Karen Page
The vote here is no, but not for the reasons you might think. Woll was great as Karen Page. She was better than great. But as the story of Matt Murdock/Daredevil moves on, Marvel Studios would be wise to move away from the dark, Frank Miller inspired arcs that we integral to the Netflix series and adapt some other authors’ work. Modern day runs by Charles Soule and Mark Waid would top the list and wouldn’t require more of Page, a character whose continued story would only continue to drag Matt through Hell.
- Elodie Yung as Elektra
Yung checked all the boxes as Elektra: sleek, sexy, dangerous and talented. If they should choose to do another story with the Hand or just with Elektra, it’d be hard to find someone who both looked and played the part as well as Yung. Bring her back!
- Wilson Bethel as Bullseye
Bethel’s time as Bullseye was just getting started when the plug was pulled on the Defenders-verse. He gave a great portrayal and would be fully capable of holding his own on screen again with Cox. Bring back Bullseye and bring back Bethel.
- Alice Eve as Typhoid Mary
Eve seemed like an out of place casting at the time, but she did fine in the role. Moving forward, however, it seems appropriate to have an entirely different version of the character and I don’t think anyone would be upset to see a new actress in the role.
Verdict: Reboot and Recast
- Bob Gunton as Leland Owlsley
Love Gunton, but he was playing the comic book Owl in the same way that Fra Fee is playing comic book Kazi, which is to say not at all. There is certainly room for the Owl in this newly carved out corner of organized crime in the MCU, but not for this version. A younger actor and totally different characterization are in order.
Verdict: Reboot and Recast
- Theo Rossi as “Shades” Alvarez
You might think that with all the characters and actors we didn’t include on the list, that Rossi is a surprise. He might be but his son, Victor Alvarez, could join the MCU’s other young heroes down the road. Rossi was creepy and slimy in the role. It would only be a bit part if he came back, so let’s see him back so we can get to his much more important offspring.
- David Tennant as Purple Man
Tennant joins D’Onofrio and Ali in the trinity of great Defender-verse performances as villains. Ali has moved into the MCU in larger role as Blade. D’Onofrio is back. It might be a stretch to bring Purple Man into the current MCU unless the want to do the big Breakout arc from New Avengers, but getting Tennant back on board in that role or any other would be fantastic.
- Wil Traval as Nuke
Nope. Give us a real Nuke in a future Cap movie. Scrap the actor and forget the character ever existed.
Verdict: Reboot and Recast
- Ayelet Zurer as Vanessa Marianna
Zurer was fire as Vanessa. Both the actress and the character were amazing. However, the MCU’s Kingpin isn’t going to have 13 hours of time to tell a bunch of personal stories, so unfortunately, unless we get a Kingpin series, neither Zurer or Vanessa need to make the jump.
Make sure to sound off in the comments on who you’d like to see reprise their roles and who you think should be left behind.