The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already dipped into the sandbox that was Netflix’s Marvel universe, having plucked Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and placed him into Hawkeye. But with the confirmation that another Daredevil actor is heading to the MCU, some fans are concerned and upset about two of the show’s actors who haven’t made the cut.
On Tuesday, the Hollywood Reporter revealed that Jon Bernthal would reprise his role as Frank Castle and the Punisher in Daredevil: Born Again, a Disney+ series. Frank Castle was a major antagonist in Netflix’s Daredevil, first showing up in the show’s second season to clash with Matt Murdock and Daredevil (Charlie Cox) before getting his own spinoff series that ran for two seasons. With Cox and D’Onofrio set to star in the series, Born Again is a chance for the original gang to get back together and try again.
However, the Daredevil reunion will seemingly stop there. Within the same article announcing Bernthal’s return, THR also confirms that Netflix’s iteration of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) aren’t on Born Again’s call sheet.
On the Netflix series, Karen and Foggy were major supporting characters, particularly around Matt Murdock’s non-superhero life. Foggy and Matt Murdock co-founded a law firm together, which Karen also worked at, but Karen is also one of Matt’s major love interests. (Karen also plays a role in the original Born Again comic that appears to be one of the series’ key inspirations.)
Marvel Studios has the ability to pick and choose which aspects of Netflix’s Marvel shows to carry over into the MCU versus what to leave behind, but for some fans, leaving Karen and Foggy out of it is a big mistake. To them, they were often the heart of the show.
The complaints, whether it involves an attachment to Woll and Henson or the characters themselves, hit on a sticking point of many recent Marvel projects. Karen and Foggy are a distinct part of Matt Murdock’s non-superhero life, a constant presence that helped to build the character when he wasn’t fighting dozens of nameless fighters in a dark hallway. But they’re not superheroes or potential sidekicks.
For MCU analogs, think about someone like Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) in the original Thor movie or the Howling Commandos in the first Captain America film, or more recently, Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) classmates outside of MJ (Zendaya) and Ned (Jacob Batalon). They’re supporting characters who fleshed out the world. Even when there was a comics counterpart, they didn’t necessarily tie in so specifically to the more fantastical side of superhero antics that they would eventually become a hero or antagonist in their own right.
Frank Castle has a long history with Matt Murdock, both within the Netflix show and in the comics, so looping him into a show like Daredevil: Born Again makes sense. But it’s also an emblem of the MCU that’s become more reliant on cameos and name-checking. As it’s setting up the next arc of the MCU, there is less time to justify focusing on some of those characters if they don’t play a bigger role in the overall plot.
Could Karen and Foggy show up in Born Again? It’s always possible; while THR noted that Woll and Henson aren’t on the call sheet for filming, it’s unclear if the characters won’t show up or if the series will look to recast those two roles. But it’s also an illustration of what might be the move going forward on how much of Netflix’s shows will bleed into the MCU: Characters who had a larger-than-life presence in one show will make the jump (Daredevil, Kingpin, Punisher) while others with smaller or quieter roles might be left in that part of the multiverse.