Spoilers for The Defenders finale below! You've been warned. We highly recommend you watch before reading. A-thank you.
Netflix’s Daredevil would not be the solid powerhouse of a show that it is without the influence of comic book legend Frank Miller, who not only invented some of the character’s most iconic elements (Stick, Elektra, the Hand, a grittier Kingpin, that goofy mask over his eyes), but pulled the title up from the brink of cancellation in the early ‘80s. Now, it sounds like the show might be gearing up to adapt one of his most classic storylines: Born Again, a seven-issue arc in 1986 that solidified Miller’s reputation as one of the definitive Daredevil writers.
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter if he’d like to see elements from Born Again brought to the TV series, actor Charlie Cox was coy but enthusiastic, noting that “Everybody 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.”
Of course, Cox also pointed out that if the show were to do Born Again, it would do so in a way that isn’t exactly as it appears in the comic — “we don't tend to follow any story blueprints too closely, because if you do, then you become a foregone conclusion,” he acknowledged. But now seems like the perfect time to consider it, because there are a lot of pieces in place as of the end of The Defenders that seem ripe for a "Born Again"-inspired story arc,
1. Karen Page knows Daredevil’s secret identity.
Because Frank Miller is not always kind to his female characters, "Born Again" begins with a strung-out, heroin-addicted Karen Page who sells her information about Daredevil’s true identity to the highest bidder in a fit of desperation. I doubt that Matt Murdock will be outed in quite the same way come Season 3—heck, the fact that he disappeared at the same time as Daredevil in The Defenders might be a better clue—but it’s certainly an interesting wrinkle in the status quo. I suspect, however, that it’s more likely Karen will continue to take on the journalist buddy role left vacant by Ben Ulrich
2. Kingpin is out for Matt Murdock’s blood.
"Born Again" is particularly remarkable because Kingpin doesn’t just go after Matt Murdock when he discovers his identity—he systematically destroys every single aspect of his life using every tool at his disposal, including getting him disbarred and foreclosing on his apartment. The last time we saw Fisk in Daredevil Season 2 he was promising to do just that as he physically assaulted Murdock, saying that “when I finally get out of this cage, I will dismantle the lives of the two amateurs that put me in here; you, Mr. Murdock, and Franklin Percy Nelson.” All that, and he doesn’t even know that he and Daredevil are the same person yet. If he does find out, the gloves will definitely be coming off.
3. Nuke is officially in the picture.
Along with Kingpin, one of the major opponents of Daredevil in "Born Again" is a character named Nuke, a brainwashed solider-turned-government weapon who takes various red, white, and blue pills to produce various effects on his body. Sound familiar? Because he’s already appeared in the Marvel/Netflix universe, as the police officer ex-boyfriend of Trish Walker in Jessica Jones who totally loses it and kills a bunch of his coworkers.
Seeing Nuke in Daredevil might not quite be the same as it was in the comic (in no small part because "Born Again" ends with Daredevil being rescued by Captain America, and there’s no way they’re getting Chris Evans to show up on one of these shows), but considering how often these shows crossed over even before The Defenders, it’s still entirely within the realm of possibility now that Nuke might appear again to mess with Matt Murdock. After all, Fisk has a lot of connections at his disposal.
4. So is Maggie.
Those not up on their Daredevil history might not understand the significance of Sister Maggie, whose name appears in the very last scene of The Defenders when a nun attending to Matt Murdock summons her. If you’ve read "Born Again" though, you know exactly who she is — it’s Maggie Murdock, Matt’s estranged mother who left to join the convent after he was born. We’ve also heard her name before in the series, during a flashback when Jack asks her to look after their son in a voicemail.
Her presence isn’t exacting proof that "Born Again" is soon on the way, but it would be an odd Easter egg to bring up now without a good reason. I mean, the overhead shot of Matt lying in a bed surrounded by nuns even looks like a panel from the comic. That can’t be a coincidence, right?
5. The Hand won’t be around to cause trouble for a while.
In my opinion, "Born Again" is the best of all of Frank Miller’s Daredevil stories for one very simple reason: it’s not about ninjas. If the triple-punch of Daredevil, Iron Fist, and The Defenders confirmed anything to me, it’s that the Hand’s usefulness as a plot device is destined for inevitable diminishing returns, and it’s not long before they grow tiresome. The best way for Netflix to shake that malaise to do that is to focus back inward on street-level corruption and Matt Murdock’s shaky mental health, which is exactly what makes "Born Again" work so well.
What do you think? Is it time for a Born Again season, or are you hoping for a different Daredevil story arc to get the Netflix treatment? Tell us about your favorite in the comments!
Images: Netflix, Marvel Comics