Spider-Man: No Way Home cameo hints at a major Marvel comeback
Warning: Spoilers from Spider-Man: No Way Home are discussed in this article.
So, let's talk about that big cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home. The other other cameo.
The film's first trailer sparked a theory among fans back in August: Who is that man in the white button-down shirt slamming a case file on the table as Tom Holland's Peter Parker was being interrogated in a police station? Could it have been Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock, a.k.a. the Daredevil of Hell's Kitchen? It seemed like a crazy thought, and Cox himself said it wasn't true.
But then! With a couple weeks to go before the film hit theaters, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige made a startling pronouncement during a press interview: "If you were to see Daredevil in upcoming things, Charlie Cox, yes, would be the actor playing Daredevil. Where we see that, how we see that, when we see that, remains to be seen."
That got fans thinking again: Why would Feige make such a definitive statement on the press tour for a movie that's said to have so many spoilers that it will rock the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it?
And then! In comes Hawkeye. The penultimate episode of the Disney+ series, focused on Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton and Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop, came with a revelation: Vincent D'Onofrio, who played Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the villain Kingpin, in Cox's Daredevil series way back when, is playing Fisk in the MCU — and now will be making his official debut in the Hawkeye series finale.
All that was leading up to a long-kept secret of Spider-Man: No Way Home: Yes, Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock makes an appearance.
Things go south for Peter in the aftermath of Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) shouting his superhero identity to the world in a faked video, and the kid genius from Queens needs a lawyer. Enter Mr. Murdock, who uses his legal superpowers to ensure the charges against Peter won't stick. An angry Mysterio supporter then throws a brick through their window and Matt is able to catch it before it harms anyone. For Peter, seeing his blind attorney perform such a feat is a little suspect, but Matt says he's just a really good lawyer.
And just like that, to borrow a phrase from another New York-set IP, what we thought about the MCU has once again evolved.
Cox starred as Matt on the series Daredevil, which ran on Netflix for three seasons starting in 2015. The show was canceled in 2018, as were the other titles in the streamer's Defenders umbrella: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher. The move coincided with Disney planning for the launch of Disney+, which allowed the company to own and develop its shows on its own streaming platform instead of a competitor.
The Defenders series were always pegged as being set within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, they felt separate in many ways. They hailed from Marvel Television, which was a division of Marvel Entertainment under Jeph Loeb and later Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. This was the same division that launched shows like ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hulu's The Runaways. The other MCU projects never really acknowledged the events of these programs. It wasn't until 2019 when Feige became Marvel Studios president and took over as overseer of Marvel Television.
Adding to the corporate puzzle, Variety earlier reported in 2018 about Marvel TV's original deal with Netflix that allegedly stipulated the characters from Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist couldn't appear on a non-Netflix platform until at least two years after any show cancelation. That would mean Cox's Matt and D'Onofrio's Fisk couldn't return till 2020 at the earliest.
For fans, it was worth the wait.
Cox is not on social media, but D'Onofrio tweeted a screenshot of the updated title card sequence from Hawkeye that revealed his character return on Disney+. "When I was a boy..." he tweeted.
The big implication here is that this opens the door for other figures from The Defenders to formally crossover into the larger cinematic universe, Krysten Ritter's Jessica Jones, Mike Colter's Luke Cage, Jon Bernthal's Frank Castle, or Finn Jones'... actually, let's stop it right there. That's good enough.
If that's the case, and the Defenders heroes are making a big comeback in the MCU, then New York City is going to become one crowded superhero hub.