Facing the evil of The Hand is a challenge that will change each respective member of The Defenders by the time the Marvel Netflix miniseries ends. But for Matt Murdock/Daredevil, the battle will be especially personal.
As we learned in Daredevil seasons 1 & 2, Matt Murdock’s life has been heavily affected by The Hand’s war with their sworn enemies, The Chaste – including Daredevil’s mentor, Stick. Matt has been investigating The Hand’s threat to NYCever since he first suited up – and in The Defenders, he’ll have to deal with the added pain of seeing The Hand bring back Elektra as the soulless killing machine known as The Black Sky.
With Daredevil season 3 already set for production in the fall, the next chapter of Matt Murdock’s story is set for some drastic changes – and The Defenders sets up one particularly good storyline for season 3 of Daredevil to tell.
“Born Again” is a 1986 Daredevil comic book storyline by Batman: Year One team Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. The main thrust of the story is that Matt Murdock has his secret identity sold to Wilson Fisk/Kingpin by someone close to him (Karen Page), allowing Fisk to systematically dismantle Murdock/Daredevil in both his costumed and personal lives.
The story is famous for the very deep and introspective character story it tells about Matt Murdock/Daredevil, who is pushed to the bring of his sanity by what The Kingpin does to him. It’s also famous for invoking a lot of religious iconography that has to do with Daredevil – and the contradictory existence he lives as a devout Catholic, and son of a nun. The story also sees Murdock battling both a violent Daredevil impostor and a supervillain named Nuke, and it had the controversial (and Frank Miller signature) arc of making Karen Page into a drug-addicted former porn actress.
In the end, Matt Murdock assumes a new identity and works as a diner chef, content to live with Karen and fight crime as Daredevil. The Kingpin, meanwhile, is left fully exposed as the criminal he is, with empire cracking and crumbling around him.
The Defenders ends with the reveal that Daredevil survived the bombing of The Hand stronghold at Midlands Circle, even though his friends and fellow Defenders teammates all think he’s dead. Matt Murdock is seen lying in a bed all bandaged up, with a nun holding vigil over him. As Matt begins to stir, the Nun says “Get Maggie, he’s waking up.”
This “Maggie” in question is Sister Maggie, who actually Matt Murdock’s mother. She’s well-known in the comic book mythos, and is an iconic part of the “Born Again” storyline and artwork (check her out in the artwork for the storyline, seen above).
Maggie is an integral part of “Born Again”: after being nearly killed The Kingpin, Daredevil is nursed back to health by Maggie – who reveals herself to be his estranged mother.
Karen Page has gotten a much different depiction in the MCU than she did on the comic book page. In comics, she started out as something of a wholesome (if not generic) love interest – before creators like Frank Miller put her through the ringer. However, Karen Page in the MCU has hinted at already having a dark past when we meet her – and that certainly seems to be the case when she executed Kingpin’s henchman, James Wesley, in season 1.
The events of “Born Again” unfold because of Karen Page being on a serious downward spiral of addiction, selling Matt’s secret out, and funny enough, her MCU counterpart is poised for a similar arc after the events of The Defenders.
On the one hand, Karen is poised to take on the role that reporter Ben Urich plays in “Born Again,” as Urich becomes a target of Kingpin in the comic book story. Unfortunately, in the MCU, Fisk as already brutally murdered Ben Urich for such a transgression, but Karen has now taken his place as an investigative reporter, and could serve that role in the story.
On the other hand, Karen is currently torn apart from thinking Matt Murdock is dead after The Defenders, and that mourning could lead her to a dark place where drinking and/or drugs make her make a terrible mistake of spilling Daredevil’s secret.
With the secret of Wesley’s death (and other skeletons) still hanging over her as well, Karen is poised to have as tragic an arc in the MCU “Born Again” as she did in the Marvel Comics version.
A pivotal scene in Daredevil season 2 took place when Matt Murdock went to see Wilson Fisk in prison. During that scene, Fisk violently manhandles Murdock while telling him in no uncertain terms that, when he gets out, he is going to break both Matt and Foggy for helping put him away.
With the time that has passed since Daredevil season 2 (like the construction of Midlands Circle and the entire events of The Defenders) it would make sense if Wilson Fisk came out of prison at the start of season 3, and got to work dismantling Matt Murdock’s life – only to learn that Murdock and Daredevil are one and the same. That would be a great way to adapt the Kingpin’s “Born Again” story for the MCU.
As stated, “Born Again” sees Daredevil finally don his costume again after a spiritual and exsetential crisis – just in time to battle the supervillain known as Nuke, who was set loose by The Kingpin to terrorize Hell’s Kitchen.
Well, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already introduced its version of Nuke, in the form of “Will Simpson,” the NYPD officer who goes mad from combat-enhancing drugs during the events of Jessica Jones season 1. When last we saw Will, he had gone full crazy on Jessica and her friend Trish Walker, forcing the girls to put him down hard. He was left unconscious in Jessica’s apartment, until he was taken away by Doctor Kozlov and IGH, the special forces program that created the combat enhancer soldiers.
Having Will Simpson return as an enforcer for The Kingpin would give Marvel Comics fans a nice Easter egg – and Daredevil a great new foe, who could also offer opportunity for a cameo from Matt Murdock’s new friend, Jessica Jones.
On stage of Kingpin’s plot in the Daredevil “Born Again” storyline is drawing Daredevil out by releasing a violent mental patient and dressing him up as Daredevil, to wreak havoc.
With the MCU Daredevil believed to be dead after the events of The Defenders, it would be plausible that Wilson Fisk (skeptical that Daredevil is really gone) would sponsor an impostor who could discredit Daredevil’s legacy, and possibly draw the hero out. And it would be very cool to see two Daredevils going at it in an epic battle sequence, midway through season 3.