Marvel’s Netflix universe has been a shining beacon for the potential of comic book heroes in a TV format. While there’s no denying the effectiveness of DC’s decidedly goofier approach on The CW, when it comes to defining “prestige” television, Daredevil and Jessica Jones immediately enter into the conversation. The biggest difference between DC and Marvel’s TV approach though is in their shared universe strategies. While the former chooses to keep its movies separate from its various television series, the latter has everything exist in the same canonical universe.
The all-encompassing Marvel approach has made it so shows like Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter can act as companions to their films, offering some much-needed context and more of a “boots on the ground” tone. For Daredevil and company though, the studio has made a point to set the Netflix universe in a world where the events of the MCU take place far outside the scope of our heroes. And while it’s well-established that the Avengers exist somewhere in Daredevil’s world, the main heroes of the Marvel franchise are an afterthought in the greater narrative.
We mention all this to provide some background information for the headline of the this whole story: the possibility of Marvel recasting Daredevil for an alleged appearance in the two-part Avengers: Infinity War saga. An interview with Daredevil leading man Charlie Cox set the rumor train in motion, with Cox noting, “if (Daredevil) were to appear in (Infinity War), that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would appear in that film.” This immediately brings a huge debate into the mix, as to whether the marquee films of the franchise should only feature A-list talent.
The answer to this debate is of course a resounding “no, and why are we even considering this in the first place?” For better or worse, Marvel has set a standard for consistency within its shared universe. The TV shows tie in directly to the movies, be it directly (Agents of SHIELD) or tangentially (Daredevil et al), and that’s been the case since Day 1. To suddenly recast a character in a wildly popular TV series for the sake of putting a more well-recognized name in place breaks that established consistency, and for a bad reason to boot.
Here we find the core issue of a potential recasting: The reasoning is flawed on a fundamental level. If another actor assumes the identity of Daredevil in Infinity War, then suddenly the Daredevil TV series (along with the various companion shows like Jessica Jones) takes place in a whole new canonical universe. This wreaks all sorts of havoc on the world-building of the Netflix universe, while committing to a strategy that DC already has defined as its own. Part of the benefit of Marvel’s “everything takes place in the same world” approach has been that it offers an alternative to DC’s “everything is separate” methodology.
For what it’s worth, Cox’s own uncertainty is far from a confirmation for any potential recasting. But even so, what it does mean is that there’s enough going on behind the scenes at Marvel to make one of the leads think it’s a possibility. We’re still two years out from the release of Infinity War – Part I, so all the ducks are far from in a row for everyone involved. Moving forward though, it would serve Marvel well to remember just how far it’s gotten by fully committing to its shared universe.
[Update, 7/1/16:] Unfortunately for fans of Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, it appears that Marvel has no plans to include his character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In an interview with Italian website BadTaste (via CinemaBlend), Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo expressed doubt about the possibility of Daredevil showing up in the MCU:
The Marvel Universe is sprawling – the Marvel Cinematic Universe is enormous. Just think of all the characters that haven’t been introduced yet that are going to be introduced by the time that we’re working on Infinity War. We have a tough task just telling the stories of the characters who exist [on the big screen] in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, let alone adding the entire Marvel Television universe. … Anything is possible in the Marvel Universe. It’s certainly something we’re considering. But our focus is on telling the stories of the characters that currently exist on the movie side.
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