Daredevil: Born Again is a Prelude to Big Changes at Marvel

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Charlie Cox’s return as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen in “Daredevil: Born Again” has become a cursed affair. Maybe the third time’s the charm.

Photo: Disney

Published on Oct 30, 2023

The Marvel machine has been intent on churning out content for Disney Plus, and its philosophy has failed to pick up pace. “Secret Invasion” was a $200 million debacle — deemed one of the worst Marvel productions since the studio’s inception. When even an immensely talented cast can save your show, cracks begin to show — in this case, fortifying the fact that the studio’s increased output has led to “diluted focus and attention.” These diminishing returns have challenged the Marvel method, and the board has eventually called for an overhaul: one dedicating more “heart” to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s brewing TV business.

Even if it’s the most-viewed franchise on Disney Plus alongside Star Wars, Marvel has failed to build upon the streamer’s existing subscriber base with a growing band of heroes. As a piece from The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, Marvel doesn’t hire showrunners — instead, it relies on film executives to run its series. This approach has worked indubitably for their film franchise — with 32 films having grossed close to $30 billion, Hollywood’s most successful franchise. However, the results couldn’t be replicated for their streaming business.

Things reached a tipping point by the time “Secret Invasion” was released earlier this year, and the studio decided to hit the reset button. This meant that Marvel’s forthcoming series “Daredevil: Born Again” hit a snag — the show parted ways with its head writers Chris Ord and Matt Corman in favor of a “significant creative reboot of the series.” Reviewing fewer than half of the show’s planned 18 episodes, Marvel’s top brass concluded that their approach to making TV needed a new direction: one that relies on showrunners, pilots, and series bibles.

This decision may come in part because the Writers’ Guild of America’s new labor contract has indoctrinated the involvement of the showrunner (a head writer) in “overseeing the writing, directing, producing, and post-producing of their TV series.” Now left hanging mid-production, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen searched for new wheels.

The series has now reportedly landed Dario Scardapane, credited for Netflix’s “The Punisher” series, has stepped in to serve as the new showrunner. In addition, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead will be co-directing the remaining episodes for the first season. The show managed to shoot less than half of its 18 episodes before the strike, but things are likely to change as new episodes are written. While Marvel plans to keep some of the already-shot scenes and episodes, they intend to inject new scenes into these episodes.

Part of the problem with recent Marvel offerings has been their increased dependency on “Marvel humor.” While initially deemed positive, the studio took it too far with even its more gritty characters making funny quips and one-liners to add comical flavor. This posed a problem for the “Daredevil” reboot — since Charlie Cox revealed that the Disney Plus version of the vigilante would not be as grim as the Netflix outing. We got a glimpse of this reformed Daredevil in “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” and fans were outraged.

The blind vigilante poeticized killings with the premise of good versus evil, but continued to live under the weight of this sin. The Murdock-Daredevil equation was always a divisive one: a man devout to the ideologies of Catholicism struggled with the duality of his life. His radioactive mental turmoil, however, made for a dark antihero that has never been truly adapted to live-action. Netflix’s three-season run came close, but it ignored part of the hero’s legacy. Marvel realized that it had high hopes to live up to, and that meant breaking its current mold.

With the creative changes, the studio wants to keep its reboot authentic to the source material: which means more brutalities and a darker narrative. Making sense of Cox’s superhero could be imperative for future Marvel-Disney Plus shows, not for the Multiverse Saga but for building an economical franchise that doesn’t burn us out.

All this means for now is that “Daredevil: Born Again” doesn’t have a concrete release date. On the plus side, you can watch the Original Netflix series on Disney Plus.