Earlier this month, Marvel Studios released a brand new series, “Echo”, on Disney+ around the world.  This new five-episode series spotlightes Maya Lopez as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. 

“Echo” is a continuation of the “Hawkeye” series that was released on Disney+ a couple of years ago, but for the series, Disney made some last-minute adjustments in the promotion of it.  For the first time, the advertising included flashbacks to some scenes from the “Defender” era shows, which were previously released as Netflix Originals.

When the original shows were released, there were few references to the events that happened in New York, aka from the first “Avengers” film, but overall, they were self-contained stories that had little bearing on the events in the larger MCU. 

Up until recently, Marvel Studios has had a weird issue with the “Daredevil” shows.  When “Hawkeye” came out, we saw Vincent D’Onofrio return as the Kingpin, but fans were told this is a different Kingpin and then, in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, Charlie Cox returned as Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, and he has also since cameoed in the “She-Hulk: Attorney At Law” Disney+ series.

Once again, fans were told that these weren’t the exact same characters we saw in the old series, and Marvel was using the “multiverse” as an excuse as to why it worked. 

However, that has recently all changed, with all of the “Defender” shows, which include “Daredevil”, “Iron Fist”, “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage” and “The Punisher”, being added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.

Personally, I always felt Marvel Studio’s attitude to the “Defender” era shows to be a little petty, while Marvel Studios didn’t create them, as the former Marvel Television division created them, expecting the general audience to understand how they could cherry pick out the bits they liked and abandon the things they didn’t. 

In your average fan’s eyes, if you’ve got Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio starring in a Marvel Studios film or show, then the previous shows would naturally be part of the same larger universe.

Marvel Studios also announced a brand new series, “Daredevil: Born Again”, which would see the characters returning but would be a little different to the former shows.  Filming on this new series began last year but was shut down when the strikes began.

During this shutdown, the executives looked at what had already been filmed and decided to do something drastic, removing the writers and the director, bringing in a new creative team and filming is set to resume soon.  While the creatives will try to use as much footage that’s already been filmed as possible, they are making many changes to the series and filming new episodes.

And it looks like Marvel Studios has finally decided it makes more sense and is less complicated, as during a recent interview with Vincent D’Onofrio to promote “Echo”, he confirmed that Marvel has recently done a 180-degree turn on their view of the “Defender” era shows.

 During our restart of all the creative on Daredevil: Born Again, all the creatives got together and said, “Look, this is how we’ve got to do it now.” So we are for sure only speaking about it in terms of being directly connected to the original Daredevil, and that’s a great thing. It brings in a lot of cool stories and all the collateral story that happened in those original three seasons. So we now get to start this Born Again situation with all of that history behind us and the outcome of all that history. So we’re all talking about Daredevil: Born Again in those terms now.

Vincent D’Onofrio was also asked about the internet will no doubt pull apart some differences, ie like the hammer used by a young Wilson Fisk to kill his father was different in “Echo” than in “Daredevil”, he explained:

I’ve been acting for forty-something years, and so I’m used to working with many different kinds of creative people. The best ones have a completely unique look at things, and so it never surprises me when things change a bit from project to project. It just doesn’t. The most we can do is be very savvy when it comes to the canon of these characters, Daredevil and Kingpin. We need to be on it when it comes to the right tone, and we need to give them what they’re looking for when it comes to this kind of storytelling. It’s different from the other stuff. Neither of us have superpowers, and we’re not from outer space. We’re character-driven story characters. That’s the way we were presented originally, and that’s the idea now. So all of the artists and creatives behind this stuff are going to change things slightly to make our story interesting.

But I love it that everybody has things to say. I get told all kinds of crazy stuff and I just love it. I love that they’re paying attention. I love that everybody has their opinions and that they would rather it be this way or that way. As an actor, I can’t answer all of that stuff, but I can bring a performance forward for them that they’re going to appreciate. So the rest is just the world that these movies and shows live in. There’s a big, strong fanbase, and that’s what makes these movies and shows survive. So, complain away, have opinions, do whatever you want to do. I love the excitement, and it doesn’t bother me. But every creative person I’ve ever met is unique, and they should be allowed to make unique choices. So it doesn’t bother me [what people say] whether I agree with them or not.

Ultimately, “Echo” was filmed before Marvel’s latest decision to include the “Defenders” era shows in the official MCU timeline, but moving forward, hopefully, things will become a little more clearer for audiences.

Marvel Studios’ approach to “Daredevil: Born Again” never made much sense to me; once you’ve got the same actors back, fans are going to assume it’s a continuation.  Had they recast all new actors in the roles of Daredevil and Kingpin, fans would have accepted the old shows weren’t “canon” and moved on.

Unfortunately, the ability for Marvel to use the multiverse to cherry-pick some of the best bits from pre-MCU, like it has done with the appearance of both Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, or the slow introduction of classic “X-Men” characters from the animated series and the 20th Century Fox era, has resulted in muddying the waters and confusing fans.

And maybe, hopefully, Marvel will change its mind about “Agent Carter”, “The Inhumans” and “Agents Of Shield”, which were all released alongside the early days of the MCU, with characters from these shows appearing in the movies.

While we wait for “Daredevil: Born Again”, you can check out all of the Defender-era shows now on Disney+!

What do you think about Marvel’s decision to make the “Defenders” shows canon?  Let us know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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