May the Multiverse do them justice!
Long before Marvel Studios began to produce TV shows with Marvel Cinematic Universe’s stars, Netflix created a shared universe populated with Marvel’s street-level superheroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Unfortunately, while the initial idea was to connect Marvel’s Netflix shows with cinematic releases, the two universes were not united by more than a few references scattered around for fans to find. Even so, Marvel’s Netflix series had a lot more hits than misses, which makes it a shame that a fantastic cast was swept under the rug once Marvel Television shut down in 2019. Marvel Studios took the reins of TV shows while completely ignoring what was already created, and so, Marvel’s Netflix series died. But what if we could bring them back?
Phase 4 of the MCU is focused on expanding concepts such as parallel dimension and alternative timelines. That means that, as the Multiverse takes shape, new opportunities arise to rescue actors and characters trapped in productions outside MCU-canon. After all, if Spider-Man: No Way Home can bring back villains from past iterations of the Web Crawler, it’s doesn’t feel like much to ask a few Marvel’s Netflix characters to return. So, in hopes of a triumphal comeback of the definitive versions of some of our favorite characters, here are 9 Marvel’s Netflix characters we would love to see in the MCU — and that would make a great fit!
Daredevil was released in 2015, giving birth to Marvel’s Netflix series and setting the tone for the subsequent superhero adaptations made by the two companies. Instead of the light-hearted films that Marvel was creating for theaters, Daredevil released a gritty, dark, and mature adaptation of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Oh, and Daredevil still has some of the best combat choreographies you’ll ever see on television. At the center of Daredevil, we have Charlie Cox’s brilliant performance as the blind ninja-master who fights crime in court during the day and chases criminals through deserted streets at night. Spider-Man: Homecoming already proved the MCU can make engaging stories without an Avenger-level threat, and Cox’s Daredevil would be a perfect addition to show a more grounded side of the superhero universe. And, please, bring back those long-take fistfights!
A great hero can only shine if they have a great villain to fight. While Cox’s Matt Murdock is a brilliant character on its own, part of what makes Daredevil so engaging is Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin, a criminal mastermind with a lot of personal issues. Netflix’s Daredevil deviates from the classic superhero formula in which everything is black and white, giving both the hero and the villain some nice shades of grey. Although the Kingpin is undoubtedly an antagonist, the series allows viewers to comprehend his motivations, and even care about his personal struggles. D’Onofrio works wonders with all of his screentime, resulting in one of the most compelling villains ever written for a comic book adaptation. Since the MCU has a bad habit of either creating forgetful villains or killing the best ones, the Kingpin could be a great addition as a mastermind capable of shaking the moral standards of the heroes.
Matt Murdock’s combat expertise is the fruit of his cruel training under the boots of Stick, a man so worried about the greater good that he doesn’t feel even one bit of remorse for abusing children. There might be grumpier superhero characters as Scott Glenn’s version of Stick, but they are surely hard to find. Stick might be the perfect example of how Marvel’s Netflix universe could be so rich in character, as the blind killer evades any kind of classification. Stick is trying to stop The Hand, an organization he deems evil. However, Stick’s methods are so brutal that it’s not hard to question if he’s actually as bad as the supposed villains. The MCU is in dire need of more complex plotlines that allow their characters to grown, so Stick would be a great addition to force superheroes to question their own actions.
We are not done with Daredevil yet! The show is, without a doubt, a masterpiece, and proof of this is the number of unforgettable characters it was able to introduce right in the first season. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple, however, can not just be seen as a Daredevil character, as the Night Nurse also appeared in Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Dawson brought an obscure comic character to the spotlight, by playing a nurse that goes out of her way to help those in need, and that includes superheroes in dire need of medical assistance. Just as Phase 1 of the MCU had Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) connect every production, Claire Temple binds Marvel’s Netflix narratives, jumping from one show to another. Claire Temple shows how vital supporting characters can be, reason enough to give Dawson another chance to bring the Night Nurse to life.
Although some people might disagree, Jon Bernthal is the definitive version of The Punisher. After showing up on Season 2 of Daredevil, the character got his own spin-off, where Bernthal could channel all his rage in the tragic story of a veteran betrayed by the country he swore to protect. The Punisher never softens the harsh reality that Frank Castle is not a good man and that the anti-hero might do more bad than good in his blind quest for revenge. However, the show is so thoughtfully crafted that it's impossible not to cheer for Frank Castle. The MCU has barely touched Marvel’s anti-heroes so far, but if The Punisher is included in the cinematic universe, no one but Bernthal should play the character.
While Cox’s Matt Murdock might be the originator of Marvel’s Netflix universe, Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones has no issue in standing her ground on the competition. Jessica Jones deals with touchy subjects, such as alcoholism and sexual violence. Nevertheless, instead of sugarcoating the harsh reality of the world we live in, the show embraces this darkness and lets Ritter channel a highly disturbed character that’s humanized as few female superheroes are. Marvel’s Netflix Jessica Jones is not there to look good in a uniform, but to show that we are all people traumatized by our struggles and that we need to battle each day to rise above our self-destructive behavior. While Daredevil might be the most thrilling Marvel’s Netflix show, Jessica Jones is the most emotionally raw, reason enough to bring Ritter back to the new Disney+ series universe.
There are only two real competitors in the best Marvel’s Netflix villain race, Vicent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and David Tennant’s Purple Man. The villain is capable of controlling the mind of all people around him, which helped him to develop a self-centered and abusive personality. However, contrary to the Kingpin, it’s not so easy to justify the Purple Man’s actions, as the villain destroys lives to satisfy his personal needs, unconcerned for the well-being of anyone but himself. The Purple Man also develops a sick relationship with Jessica Jones, mistaking control for true love. Few villains are as powerful and as sick as the Purple Man, and Tennant’s amazing acting skills brought the villain to life in a painful perfection. The MCU needs good villains, and it would be a shame to let Tennant’s Purple Man be forgotten.
Luke Cage’s first season dove deep into the Black culture of Harlem and the intricacies of the neighborhood’s nightlife. (At least until the show became a shameless fistfight and left all nuance behind.) Fortunately, Luke Cage had a second season to cement Mike Colter as the true Protector of Harlem, willing to put his own morals aside to keep the peace in the place where he grew. Luke Cage was by far the most powerful member of The Defenders, with an impenetrable skill that allowed him to resist almost any kind of damage. The hero’s vulnerabilities, then, became the people around him, the ones he loved and promised to keep safe. Luke Cage’s invulnerability opens the door to a number of creative tales of a man who cannot be beaten down, but whose spirit might still be broken. With Colter bringing the hero to life, the MCU could have a great excuse to showcase Black superheroes that live among us, instead of a fictional country far away.
Almost every lead of Marvel’s Netflix shows is accounted for in this list, due to the amazing work of both the cast and the creative team, but we are leaving Finn Jones’ Iron Fist out. While Jones is not the only one to blame, especially because the actor did a decent job during crossovers, there’s really no debate as to which Marvel’s Netflix show is the worst. Then again, the concept of a rich white boy becoming the master of martial arts is flawed to begin with, which is why Season 2 of Iron Fist deserves the credit for trying to course-correct the show and transform Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing into the titular hero. Henwick was already better at doing her own fighting scenes, and Colleen Wing is one of the few positive reasons to remember Iron Fist. Colleen Wing deserves another shot at the spotlight, especially because her character reached her peak just as the show was canceled.
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Marco Vito Oddo is a writer, journalist, and game designer. Passionate by superhero comic books, horror films, and indie games, he writes for Collider and develops games for Mother’s Touch Games.
May the Multiverse do them justice!