Daredevil’s “Born Again” run is one of the most celebrated and definitive story arcs in the Marvel character’s 50+ year run. Written by Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzucchelli all the way back in 1986, it is a dark, cerebral tale that features Matt Murdock’s descent into destitution and mental illness, following a series of targeted attacks on his personal life staged by the Kingpin, who learns Daredevil’s secret identity in the first issue and proceeds to use that knowledge to destroy Matt’s life.
It is a Daredevil story that begs to be adapted. Mark Steven Johnson, who directed the 2003 film, reportedly wanted to base his sequel on the storyline, and Joe Carnahan made a separate, albeit unsuccessful, pitch for a standalone Born Again movie before rights reverted back to Marvel in 2012.
Now that Daredevil is back in the creative hands of Marvel Studios, ol’ hornhead is enjoying relentless success and critical acclaim in his Netflix original show, which has pulled from the source material to make a respectful crowd pleaser that shares continuity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though the show’s staff play coy about the possibility of a Daredevil Season 3, a number of story threads and easter eggs in Season 2 point to “Born Again” being a foundational source of inspiration for Season 3.
But every adaptation requires creative changes to make it all work, and the world of Netflix’s Daredevil won’t be an exception. Which story elements will be faithfully adapted and which will change to fit the MCU’s take on Daredevil? For better or worse, here’s our best guess at what to expect out of Daredevil Season 3 if it adapts the “Born Again” storyline.
12. Karen’s Role Will Look More Like Ben Urich’s
“Born Again” finds Karen as a destitute and drug-addicted porn star ready to give up Daredevil’s secret identity for a quick hit. Given that Daredevil Season 2 didn’t end with Karen experimenting with hard drugs and a career in pornography, it’s pretty unlikely that she’ll follow in her comic inspiration’s footsteps. The MCU version of Karen has a lot more agency than her comic counterpart, and season 2 found her working at Ben Urich’s newspaper as a journalist.
Urich has a crucial role in “Born Again,” but since the MCU version of the character met a tragic fate in Season 1, all of that character real estate has to go to someone else. Who better than MCU Karen, a stronger, more independent version of her comic self who is already taking steps to fill the vacuum left by Urich’s death?
12. Return Of The King
Wilson Fisk’s appearance in Daredevil Season 2 was a welcome surprise to fans, and foreshadowed numerous future plot threads for the character. His lawyer is working hard on his appeal, and an intense confrontation with Matt left him swearing vengeance on Nelson & Murdock and demanding that his lawyer search for vulnerabilities that he can use against the main characters. Furthermore, Fisk experienced Murdock’s fighting abilities, albeit briefly, in his encounter with the lawyer at Riker’s prison, suggesting that he may have a hint as to who the Daredevil might actually be.
11. Someone Other Than Karen Will Betray Matt’s Secret Identity
Like we said earlier, Karen is the one who gives up Daredevil’s secret identity in “Born Again,” setting the plot in motion. Since her MCU incarnation is following a different character arc, it seems unlikely that she’ll be the one to spill the beans. But the plot point is crucial to “Born Again,” meaning that another character will have to trade in on Matt’s alter ego. But who?
Given the state of Nelson & Murdock at the end of Season 2, Matt & Foggy’s falling out and Kingpin’s grudge against the law firm that put him away, Foggy could end up being the one to betray Matt’s identity. He’s one of only a handful of characters in the show who know about Matt’s alter ego, and while MCU Karen would probably die before betraying her friends, MCU Foggy might sell Matt out if it means protecting Karen (or someone else). Though a major hit to their friendship, it might also set up a reconciliation arc for the two characters who, at the end of Season 2, couldn’t be further apart.
10. Nuke Could Feature As A Major Antagonist …
Aside from Kingpin, one of the major antagonists of “Born Again” is Nuke, an unhinged super soldier who takes different-colored pills to control his superhuman abilities. Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve already seen a version of Nuke in Netflix’s Jessica Jones.
Will Simpson, Trish Walker’s almost-assassin and later romantic interest, goes off the rails when he compromises his white hat status by rejoining his old military unit in order to stop Kilgrave. He ultimately turns on Jessica, and his unconscious body is reclaimed by the military near the end of the season. Given that all of the MCU shows exist in the same continuity (even the same neighborhood), a crossover wouldn’t be out of the question. However …
9. … But It Could Just As Easily Be Bullseye
Nuke’s role in “Born Again” is pretty one-dimensional, and he doesn’t really have a contribution other than “nigh-unstoppable physical threat for Daredevil to fight.” His role in the story is important, but could just as easily be filled by any other character who fits that description. It makes more sense for the showrunners to do some fan service and introduce a new MCU character – one that the fans have been begging for since Daredevil Season 1.
Yup, we’re talking about Bullseye. Rumor has it that Marvel was in talks to cast Jason Statham in the role for Season 2, but those talks fell apart for unknown reasons. Seems like they have Bullseye on their mind for future seasons, and there’s no better opportunity than Daredevil Season 3.
8. Matt’s Mother Will Make Her MCU Debut
Sister Maggie is Matt’s caretaker in “Born Again,” a nun who finds him wounded and near death in the streets at the end of the original run’s third issue. She was also briefly teased in Season 2, cleaning Daredevil’s wounds and comforting him. In the comic, Matt confronts Sister Maggie and asks her point-blank if she’s his mother. She lies, which Matt takes to mean that she truly is.
She has shown up in later comic arcs, and given her brief cameo in Season 2 as well as her importance to “Born Again,” it’s likely she’ll make her MCU debut. Will she make an appearance in Season 3, connected to Father Lantom’s church? Only time will tell.
7. Karen’s Past Will Be Revealed
The series so far hints that MCU’s Karen Page has a dark past. Whereas in the comics, Karen is a pretty straightforward and amiable young woman who later struggles with drug addiction, you get a sense that MCU Karen’s darkness is not ahead of her, but behind her.
As the Kingpin compiles intel to use against Nelson & Murdock between seasons, it’s all but guaranteed that Karen’s past will come up and that we’ll finally learn her secrets. Perhaps there’s a chance that she’ll turn down the darker path that we see in “Born Again” after all, or maybe those days are already behind her. The MCU version seems more innocent than her comic counterpart, but that could be to hide her previous self, before she met Matt and Foggy.
6. Foggy Will Defend Matt … In Court
One of Daredevil Season 2’s most interesting story arcs was the trial of Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. The show as a whole has done a good job in its two seasons of blending the superhero action of the MCU with a grounded Mean Streets crime drama feel, and the legal and procedural elements of the show have stood out to many critics as some of Daredevil’s strongest material. If Season 3 continues its focus on the day jobs of Daredevil’s supporting cast, another major trial is not out of the question.
In “Born Again,” a crooked cop is bribed to testify that Matt himself bribed a witness to perjure himself. A brief legal battle sees Foggy Nelson defend Matt and save him from jail time, though Matt is barred from practicing law. This is an important thread in “Born Again” that would be a natural fit for Daredevil Season 3, and could provide a reason for Matt and Foggy to reconcile (especially if our earlier prediction of Foggy betraying Matt’s secret identity holds true).
5. Melvin Will Become The Gladiator
Though he doesn’t feature as his criminal alter ego in “Born Again,” Melvin Potter does play a small, crucial role in the story’s plot, and was the main antagonist of Daredevil #226, the issue that immediately precedes the “Born Again” arc. Potter’s eventual transformation into Gladiator has been frequently teased throughout the show’s two seasons, and as of the end of Season 2, we know he’s working on his costume. Though he wouldn’t likely be a major focus of Season 3, Kingpin’s machinations to destroy Matt’s life could very easily result in turning his costumer and confidante against him.
4. Punisher Could Return
In “Born Again,” Daredevil is aided by Captain America in the final confrontation with Nuke, and figures heavily in his ultimate redemption against Kingpin. As much as we wish it were possible, it’s highly unlikely that Chris Evans will show up in Daredevil Season 3, but the need for a superhero team-up could set the stage for another character to return – none other than Jon Bernthal’s Punisher.
Marvel’s plans for MCU Punisher are currently unknown, so until he’s confirmed for The Defenders or his own spin-off show, he’s on the shelf, able to be tagged in whenever (and wherever) the showrunners like. Given his massive popularity with the fans, it’s completely possible that he’ll return for a curtain call in Daredevil Season 3.
3. Born Again’s Daredevil Impostor
In “Born Again,” Matt faces a violent mental patient wearing a Daredevil costume (provided by Melvin Potter) hired by Kingpin to discredit the vigilante. If Daredevil Season 3 adapts “Born Again,” the showrunners would be remiss to not include an episode featuring Daredevil versus his copycat. Seeing two costumed Daredevils fighting on the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen would make for an incredibly memorable episode.
While Punisher acted as a sort of ideological mirror for Daredevil in Season 2, a copycat would allow Matt Murdock to see the differences between himself and those vigilantes the world would be better off without.
2. Kingpin And Vanessa Will Get Hitched
One of the most interesting aspects of Daredevil Season 1 was the juxtaposition of Matt’s slow struggle toward becoming the Daredevil we know and love with Wilson Fisk’s sympathetic (even charming) personal life. While most of Matt’s screen time was dedicated to his “Year One” struggle as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Fisk’s story was mostly about his past and his budding relationship with Vanessa, with his criminal endeavors playing second fiddle.
Daredevil Season 3 could mirror Season 1 by featuring Fisk’s life getting better and better as Matt’s slowly falls apart. In the comics, Fisk and Vanessa are already married by the time of “Born Again,” and investing more into their relationship could set up a stunning climax when …
1. Daredevil Threatens Vanessa’s Life
Daredevil’s showrunners have pulled from the character’s rich history to inform the show, and don’t need to stick to “Born Again” verbatim to adapt the spirit of the story. The Ultimate Comics version of Daredevil didn’t get his own “Born Again” run, but the offices of Nelson & Murdock were destroyed by that version of Kingpin, resulting in a crazed, cornered Daredevil threatening Vanessa’s life.
The confrontation was, shall we say, “Born Again-ish,” and provided one of the best dramatic standoffs between the two archenemies in any medium. One of MCU Daredevil’s biggest personal struggles is whether he will ever have to take a life for his mission – it was a central question in both seasons thus far, and if Kingpin tries to take everything from Matt in Season 3, it makes sense that the climax and conclusion would see Daredevil threatening to take something from Kingpin after all he has put him through.
Which moments from “Born Again” or other Daredevil stories would you like to see adapted in Daredevil Season 3?
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