Like many other Marvel fans, I had been awaiting Daredevil's return to the MCU with equal parts anticipation and dread.


While it's wonderful to see Charlie Cox back in the role after the unjust cancellation of his Netflix series, it was worrisome how Disney would handle a character whose stories have historically been so dark and bloody. Certainly, the re-introduction of Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) in last year's Hawkeye series offered no comfort, as Marvel reduced perhaps its best ever screen villain to a bumbling buffoon in less than an hour.

After that disastrous guest appearance, the pressure was on for Daredevil's grand debut (not counting that fleeting No Way Home cameo). Marvel Studios had to prove it could be trusted to integrate the fan-favourite Netflix characters appropriately, while also justifying the recent investment in an 18-episode solo project for Cox's Man Without Fear.

I'd argue they succeeded, as She-Hulk episode 8 was perhaps the strongest in the series to date, giving a much-needed second wind to a show that was seriously losing momentum.

Initial nerves persisted when Matt Murdock (Cox) strutted into court towards the start of the episode, with the ensuing legal debate being as flat and boring as we've come to expect from She-Hulk at this point. (Attorney at Law was perhaps a misjudged subtitle). But after that daft lawsuit was tossed out and our heroes suited up, things immediately fell into place. Daredevil's first leap into the wider MCU is a perfect blend of action, comedy and fan service, which shifts the tone of the character while keeping his core tenets intact.

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On that note, let's address the elephant in the room: this Daredevil is lighter than the one we met in the Netflix show. That was always going to be the case for this particular appearance. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a sitcom of the silliest variety, so anyone who expected to see a ruthlessly violent vigilante tortured by Catholic guilt was simply not being realistic. Fortunately, Cox is given some strong comedic material to work with here (previous She-Hulk cast members have not been so lucky), and his electric chemistry with Tatiana Maslany is a joy to behold.

Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) confronts Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) in Daredevil season 3
Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) confronts Kingpin (Vincent D'Onofrio) in Daredevil season 3. David Lee/Netflix

Of course, that too will be a sticking point with purists. In an unexpected twist, the episode ends with Jennifer Walters and Matt Murdock spending the night together after a series of flirty exchanges on their crime-fighting date. Fans of both the comics and Netflix series will have one thing to say: 'What about Karen Page?'

Played by Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Karen is a colleague and major love interest to Matt, whose seeming irrelevance here confirms that Marvel Studios isn't giving Daredevil's earlier screen adventures much consideration.

That will be disappointing to fans, myself included, who hoped for Daredevil: Born Again to be a de facto fourth season rather than a soft reboot. But there's fun to be had in seeing the formation of a potential Marvel power couple, while Karen could very well come back into the story down the line if Matt and Jen decide to just be friends.

Meanwhile, those condemning any attempt at lightness in a Daredevil story as comic book inaccuracy are sadly misinformed. In fact, there's a strong precedent for a quippy, swashbuckling Man Without Fear that Marvel would do well to take note of.

Tatiana Maslany plays Jennifer Walters in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
"This guy's really kind of doing it for me," says She-Hulk after meeting Daredevil. Marvel Entertainment

Between 2011 and 2015, dynamite comic book creators Mark Waid and Chris Samnee teamed up for a Daredevil run that was as colourful as it was heartwarming. The series faced some initial heat, just as this appearance likely will, from fans who had become accustomed to the dark tone established by writers Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and Frank Miller, among others. However, both readers and the wider industry ultimately fell in love with this portrayal, applauding its inventive approach to exploring Matt's internal anguish and showering it with Eisner Awards (the comic book industry's Oscars).

If Marvel Studios takes its cues from the Waid/Samnee run, there's no reason why Daredevil: Born Again can't be a riveting watch while still playing by the rules of the family-friendly brand. She-Hulk is a confident first step down this path, presenting a lighter version of Matt Murdock who still feels true to form. With the character's upcoming solo series likely to be more dramatic than the thoroughly goofy Attorney at Law, there's real hope that it will strike a good balance between light and dark for our horn-headed hero – hopefully, using Kingpin as a teachable moment.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is available to stream on Disney Plus. Sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 for a year. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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