We’ve waited for about three years now for Defenders to finally hit our screens. Obviously, the wait wasn’t all that bad as we had seasons of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and two seasons of Daredevil to bide our time to their promised team-up, but now that the eight episode mini-series has come and gone, all us nerds, dorks, geeks and nerddorkgeeks are already speculating on what’s next.
First of all, spoilers lie ahead. If you have not yet watched or finished Defenders on Netflix and you plan to and you hate spoilers — stop reading. Come back to us when you’ve watched it. We’re not telling you to leave forever — just, stop reading for now.
Still with us?
Here we go.
At the end of The Defenders, Daredevil (Charlie Cox) fights Elektra (Elodie Yung) underneath the building as it explodes and collapses (presumably) onto them, leaving them dead at the end of the series. But then — BUT THEN — at the end of the final episode, in it’s absolute final moments, we see Matt Murdock alive and well, albeit beaten the hell up, in a convent hospital with a nun by his bed nursing his wounds. How’d he get here? How’s he alive? Where’s Elektra — those are all questions left to be answered in Daredevil’s third season, sometime in our future.
Yes, that is annoying. We want answers now. But we’ll get them, so let’s all us dorks be patient. Until then, Charlie Cox, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, admitted that there are, obviously, some nods towards one of Daredevil’s most iconic comic stories — Daredevil Born Again. As he said to the trade, “There may be elements from Born Again, but I’m sure there will be elements that are unfamiliar and surprising and different in order for the show to be compelling to fans who know the comics very well. If we start making Born Again page-for-page, then the people who have read it and loved it — the hardcore fans — they won’t have too much drama.”
So, what does this actually mean?
That requires a quick primer on the story for those of you who may not have read it.
At the start of the story, in the comics, Karen Page is a broke heroin addict and desperate for her next hit, so she sells the information of who Daredevil is — that being Matt Murdock — for her next hit. This information then gets sold to Kingpin, who then uses that information, his wealth and his influence to terrorize Murdock. The IRS freezes all of his assets, he gets kicked out of his apartment and he’s framed by a detective saying he witnessed Murdock pay off a witness. He’s saved from prison by his ex-partner Foggy Nelson, but he’s disbarred.
But Kingpin’s not done yet. He firebombs Murdock’s apartment. Not only that, but as a giant “F-you” to Murdock, Kingpin has the Daredevil costume left in the rubble of the apartment.
All of this, understandably so, leaves Murdock paranoid and aggressive and lashing out at all of his old partners and friends. No one can help him and Murdock is driven solely by thoughts of revenge on Kingpin rather than the hope of getting his life back. He attacks Kingpin, but is beaten. In fact, Kingpin believes he’s killed Murdock and even stages his death to look like a suicide, but Murdock escapes at the last minute and makes his way to Fogwell’s Gym, an old familiar place for Murdock as that’s where his father trained when he was boxing. It’s there that his mother, Maggie, now a nun, finds him and nurses him back to health.
Kingpin soon discovers that Murdock survived after all and he uses his military contacts to get Nuke.
Remember the pill-popping Nuke? Frank Simpson, an attempt as creating a super soldier who very quickly went insane with patriotism so strong he’ll murder anyone or destroy anything that doesn’t fit with his idea of “America.”
So, just a quick reminder on where some of these characters are in the series —
Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll, is not a crack addicted porn actress, she’s actually doing really well as a reporter at Ben Ulrich’s old paper.
Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson, is an attorney at a high profile law firm and doing very well. Both he and Karen are mourning the loss of their close friend and loved one, Matt Murdock, though they seem to accept that he died doing something that actually saved the city.
Kingpin Wilson Fisk, as played by Vincent D’onofrio, is rebuilding his empire from within prison. He’s been silent since Daredevil season two when he used the Punisher to make him de facto leader of the prison. While the Punisher Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) escaped, Fisk is still behind bars and, as far as we know, unaware of Daredevil’s death, though he does seem to have his suspicions that the attorney who put him in jail, Matt Murdock, is actually the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.
Nuke, a.k.a. Frank Simpson, played by Wil Traval in the first season of Jessica Jones, is still presumably running free, though he’s now a known threat to both Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) and Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter).
With that rundown, it’s very clear that the series cannot actually use any of these plot points from the books. However, what they can do is take a few cues from the comics in terms of seeing Murdock rebuilding himself as Daredevil. Most likely, he will be presumed dead, legally pronounced as such by the coroner and, quite possibly, be outed as the vigilante Daredevil
It seems, most likely, that the show creators will take cues from both Born Again and the Bendis/Maleev run on the comic, Daredevil Vol. 2, which is one of the most character defining comics for the vigilante. In fact, some historians and fans believe it to be one of the best runs of comic book storytelling ever.
That run sees Matt Murdock’s secret identity fully in trouble. The hero, at several turns, is threatened by various sources with having his name outed as the brutal vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen, which in turn would completely incriminate Foggy Nelson and Karen Page. They’ve flirted with this before in the show, but here the threat is very real. In the meantime, Kingpin’s empire is in constant flux from outsiders who want to take him down and this leaves the city in turmoil.
With both Murdock/Daredevil now presumed dead in the Netflix series, it’s very likely that they’ll take cues from Born Again to see Murdock battling to take his life back from the shadows. As he does all of that, he’ll need to keep his name, as well as Foggy’s and Karen’s, from being concretely linked to Daredevil, and this is where the Bendis/Maleev Vol. 2 run will come in.
Maybe we’ll even see Daredevil announce himself the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen.