With Season 1 of The Defenders all wrapped up, Daredevil Season 3 is on the horizon for Marvel's Netflix heroes, and one of the Man Without Fear's greatest comic book arcs may be a big influence.
One of the great joys of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, both on the big screen and the small, is picking out all of the various comic book tie-ins and references peppered into the stories. No single comics arc is ever adapted in a page-for-page way, but careful viewers will pick out everything from classic Amazing Spider-Man panels to inside jokes to full-on borrowed plot devices (like Extremis in Iron Man 3).
The Defenders, Marvel's massive Netflix team-up, is no different in this regard, particularly in the way things ended for Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, who recently reflected on the series with SYFY WIRE). After a collapsed building left him dead to the world, Daredevil found himself being nursed back to health by nuns. This is a reference to Born Again, one of the all-time great Daredevil comics arc, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
In Born Again, first published by Marvel in 1986 and marking a triumphant return to the character for Miller, the Kingpin learns Daredevil's true identity thanks to a desperate and heroin-addicted Karen Page. With the name of his nemesis finally in hand, he sets out to ruin Matt Murdock's life, and more or less succeeds. Murdock loses everything: his apartment, his then-girlfriend, his money, and his law practice. Because he can't initially figure out who's wrecking his existence from afar, Murdock descends into a state of deep paranoia and violence before he's nearly killed, only to be nursed back to health by nuns (notably, his estranged mother).
Now, Murdock in the MCU finds himself in a similar predicament, though how he got there is quite different. The rest of the Born Again arc involves Kingpin attempting to coax Murdock back out of hiding by, among other things, trying to have Foggy Nelson murdered. It's not clear what route Daredevil Season 3 will take with this starting point, but here's what Cox himself told The Hollywood Reporter:
"That's such an amazing story. Everyone who loves Daredevil loves Born Again. You can't not. And if that's the case, then the implications of that would be very exciting to me. That would be great. Having said that, I know we don't tend to follow any story blueprints too closely, because if you do, then you become a foregone conclusion. 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."
Cox obviously doesn't know exactly where his character's going next, but his remarks on an adaptation of the classic arc are in keeping with how most of the MCU works: Inspired by, but not too directly based on, the comics. There are elements of Born Again (an evil super soldier named Nuke, for example) that either don't exist in the MCU at all or would be a little strange to see there, and doing a panel-by-panel adaptation of just about anything is almost destined to tangle some of the narrative threads the films and shows have strung out so far. That said, the Kingpin is still around in the MCU, and he is still looking to end Daredevil once and for all. It's not hard to imagine a Season 3 arc where Wilson Fisk pretty much drives Murdock insane by ruining everything he holds dear from afar. It could also give us plenty of shots of Matt Murdock posing around stained glass windows, and that is Peak Frank Miller Daredevil.
Daredevil Season 3 is expected to start production later this year. What do you think? Is Born Again the right place for the MCU's Murdock to go?