Kevin Feige made waves in February when he told Empire Magazine that Moon Knight was more “brutal” than previous Marvel Cinematic Universe titles. The studio president even said that Moon Knight’s violence was evidence of the “boundaries shifting on what we’re able to do” in Marvel’s Disney+ shows. But so far the show hasn’t followed through on those promises in any tangible way.
In its first episode, Moon Knight used Marc Spector’s (Oscar Isaac) dissociative identity disorder to cut around his moments of violence, showing only the aftermath of his brawls. Its second and third episodes haven’t used that trick quite as much, but the fight scenes featured throughout them feel no more “brutal” than is typical for the MCU.
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Those facts just make Feige’s comments come across as confusing, and they raise some concerns about Marvel’s treatment of certain beloved MCU heroes moving forward.
Long-Awaited Returns — Marvel fulfilled the wishes of many Marvel fans when it brought back Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home. In the same month, Vincent D’Onofrio also reprised his role as Wilson Fisk in Hawkeye. Now, rumors suggest that Marvel is not only planning to bring Cox and D’Onofrio back in several future projects, but that the studio is also considering bringing several of its other Netflix heroes back as well.
While that’s undeniably exciting, it’s worth noting that Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Marvel’s other Netflix shows were all considerably more grounded and darker than any of the studio’s other MCU titles. They were violent shows that adopted a kind of intimate, street-level scope, which made them stand out from the MCU’s film entries.
To put it another way: They were shows that could easily be considered more “brutal” than most other live-action comic book titles.
Similar But Different — Moon Knight, while darker in some ways than Marvel’s other Disney+ originals, has yet to reach the same levels of brutality that the studio’s Netflix shows did. That doesn’t mean Marvel is failing to achieve the tone it wanted to in Moon Knight, but it does raise some interesting questions about what the studio’s plans are for its former Defenders.
Specifically, if Marvel thinks Moon Knight is pushing the limits of what it can do on Disney+, then does that mean any Daredevil or Jessica Jones revivals would have to be tamer than those shows originally were? That certainly seems like that would be the case, and odds are that Marvel’s Netflix fans wouldn’t be too happy about that.
Fans don’t want Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock to be different from the one they came to know and love in Daredevil and Defenders. Both of those series focused on the character’s aggression and his relationship to violence, and they did that by showcasing not only how much pain he was capable of taking, but also how much he was capable of giving out.
If Marvel brings Daredevil back as a less grounded show than fans remember, it runs the risk of creating too much of a gap between the series’ Netflix and Disney+ eras.
The Inverse Analysis — The first three seasons of Daredevil remain staggeringly different from basically everything else that Marvel Studios has made over the past 14 years. If it returns with new episodes on Disney+ that are more stylistically and tonally in line with other MCU titles, that’ll result in Daredevil losing one of its strongest traits. More importantly, that would suggest that the MCU won’t ever really be as diverse and experimental as Marvel desperately wants fans to think.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing yet how Marvel actually intends to handle Daredevil and its other Netflix properties in the coming years. However, if Marvel sees Moon Knight as a “brutal” show for the MCU, then that doesn’t bode well for any Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or Punisher revivals that may be in the works right now.
Moon Knight is streaming now on Disney+.