What is Marvel Doing With Daredevil and the Defenders?

Photo courtesy: marvel.com

Photo courtesy: marvel.com

Recently, Disney dumped all their mature-rated Marvel shows, which were originally on Netflix, onto Disney+, now unifying all the content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, MCU, under one banner. 

The shows included are “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “The Punisher,” and “The Defenders.” In Disney+, a new pop-up asks non kid friendly profiles whether they want to enable the mature content and requires entering the account password. 

Disney has been heavily marketing these new additions, along with ABC’s “Agents of Shield,” so far as to even post memes on Tik Tok about it. Because of this, I don’t think this is the end of their plans for these street-level Marvel characters. With Matt Murdock (AKA Daredevil) having a cameo in “Spider-Man No Way Home” and Kingpin being the main villain of “Hawkeye,” it’s clear Disney is laying the groundwork to introduce the Defenders into the broader MCU.

The question now that is on everyone’s minds though is what exactly will they do? 

These shows fully utilize the mature rating, so they wouldn’t exactly fit into Marvel’s normal formula. The shows are mostly very serious and comic relief is only done sparingly (so no one saying how cool an action scene is in the middle of the scene; I’m looking at you “Moonknight”). That’s not to say that these characters don’t work well with everyone else, it’s just that using the same formula Marvel Studios has been using since 2012’s “The Avengers” won’t work when making these characters’ own shows. 

Daredevil, for example, is someone who works very well in a variety of tones, as shown in his recent Spider-Man cameo being (in my opinion) the funniest moment of the movie. Even in the comics, Daredevil is a very dark and tortured character, even more than he is in the show sometimes, yet he very often works and interacts with a variety of characters with the main one being Spider-Man. 

Not to mention, the Mark Waid “Daredevil” run followed the darkest points in the character’s history with a bright and hopeful take on the character that temporarily returned him to more of his swashbuckling adventures in the character’s early years while still retaining the character’s emotional maturity.

Marvel has a variety of options at hand, so now it’s just a matter of speculating what they will do. If I were a betting man, I’d say Marvel will keep solo projects for these characters contained to the shows just so they can retain the mature rating, but with “Deadpool 3” being in production, they may be branching out into rated R movies. 

Along with that, it does seem like the movies are focusing on the multiverse and cosmic side of the MCU, whereas the shows seem to be building out its more street-level catalog of heroes.

Regardless of medium though, what matters most is how these characters are handled and adapted. All these characters can work in a PG-13 setting, except the Punisher. 

Knowing his popularity though, I highly doubt that they would abandon him. Iron Fist and Luke Cage, I think, would work well in a PG-13 setting, as they are a more comedic duo, so I’m not very concerned about those two and they’ll more than likely get a Heroes for Hire show. 

Where this becomes iffy is with Daredevil and Jessica Jones, because plopping their solo projects into a PG-13 setting isn’t as simple. As I said before, Daredevil can work in more lighthearted settings but there would have to be a strong explanation for the change in tone from the extremely dark “Daredevil” season three. 

Jessica Jones, however, is probably the most difficult character to adapt into a PG-13 setting, because, for one, she curses a lot, but her show also covers very mature subject matters that would not be allowed in a PG-13 movie. Season one, for example, shows the physical and mental abuse she endured at the hand of the Purple Man who is easily the most sadistic and psychotic villain in the entire MCU.

My main concern though is not the rating but how these characters will be written in the hands of Marvel Studios. I won’t lie, Marvel has had a streak of aggressively mediocre movies and shows since the release of “Wandavision” in early 2021. Since the pandemic hit, the only projects I think crossed the line of above-average were “Loki” and “Spider-Man No Way Home.” 

Everything else has been disappointing, to say the least, and it makes me worried for the future of these characters, especially since it doesn’t look like this streak is ending any time soon. “Ms. Marvel” is taking her stretching powers that are core to her character and arc and are just making them Green Lantern powers just to look cooler. “Moonknight” isn’t looking much better either considering there is no hint of the show addressing his Jewish upbringing, despite it being core to his character and a part of the reason he developed dissociative identity disorder.

What makes me scared is that in the hands of Marvel Studios, rather than Marvel Television, these characters could effectively be neutered and will lack the same weight and impact they once had. 

Just looking at Ms. Marvel and Moonknight’s characterizations here makes me scared of how they will handle Daredevil’s Catholicism and Catholic guilt. These are core aspects of all these characters and I don’t trust Marvel and Disney to handle them in a satisfying way at this point. 

At the very least it’s looking like Daredevil is going to take a prominent role in the MCU going forward, with reported major roles in the upcoming She-Hulk and Echo shows along with a rumored “Daredevil” *reboot* (which more than likely is just a new show that takes place after the original). 

This personally makes me very happy, because he’s my favorite Marvel character, but as I said before, this last year of mediocrity from Marvel has me extremely worried about what they have next for the man without fear and the Defenders.