In 2024, Daredevil: Born Again will debut on Disney Plus. The streaming series shares a name with one of the most iconic Daredevil stories of all time: Born Again (opens in new tab), the 1986 arc written by comic book giant Frank Miller and drawn by David Mazzucchelli.
However, the shared title may not indicate a direct adaptation from the comic books. For one thing, parts of the Born Again arc were already loosely adapted for Netflix’s Daredevil season 3, though whether Disney Plus’s Daredevil: Born Again and the Netflix Daredevil series will be set in the same continuity – despite the return of Charlie Cox in the titular role and Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin – is a topic for another day.
More to the point, returning star Cox has said he doesn’t believe the new series will expand on Miller and Mazzucchelli’s saga.
That all said, events in the seminal Born Again comic book story arc affect broad swaths of the Marvel Universe including Captain America and the Avengers, and we can’t rule anything out just yet. Arguably Miller and Mazzucchelli’s most famous work on the Daredevil series, as the title suggests Born Again effectively ruins Matt Murdock’s life and forces him to pick up the pieces and start over.
If you aren’t familiar with the Born Again comics story or you need a refresher, read on for an explainer of Daredevil: Born Again and how it might be adapted for the MCU.
What happens in Daredevil: Born Again
The crux of Daredevil: Born Again is that Karen Page, former Nelson & Murdock secretary and Matt’s ex-girlfriend, sells his civilian identity in exchange for a shot of heroin when she develops a drug addiction after her brief acting career fizzles out. Then Kingpin gets ahold of the information and (of course) uses it against him, effectively ruining Matt’s life.
Born Again really kicks off with Karen’s deal in Daredevil #227, released in February 1986. After Kingpin learns Daredevil’s civilian identity just a few pages later, he begins wielding his significant influence to freeze Matt’s bank accounts, foreclose on his apartment, and sully his name by paying off a police officer to testify that he saw Matt pay a witness to perjure himself. Concurrently, Matt’s then-current girlfriend breaks up with him and starts dating his best friend and law partner, Foggy.
Through his own investigative work, Daredevil learns that the police officer in question is helping to frame him in exchange for necessary medical treatments for his son. Matt refuses to turn him in and can’t figure out who’s behind the blackmail. Matt’s saved from a prison sentence thanks to Foggy’s legal skills, but he’s barred from practicing law, which strips him of the only way he has to help the residents of Hell’s Kitchen outside of his Daredevil vigilantism.
Kingpin doesn’t respond well to hearing his plan to have Matt/Daredevil imprisoned has gone awry, and he reacts brutally. He has Matt’s apartment firebombed and gives the order to kill anyone else who knows Daredevil’s true identity – including Karen Page.
However, Karen escapes Kingpin’s assassins and returns to New York to find Matt, who’s homeless, paranoid, and becoming increasingly aggressive. Kingpin’s subordinates follow his every move and constantly report back to their boss, chronicling Matt’s mental and physical state. When Daredevil goes to Kingpin’s office seeking revenge in issue #228, he loses the fight. Badly.
Now that Daredevil is literally in his clutches, Kingpin has his body drenched in whiskey, strapped into a stolen cab, and shoved into the East River. This is both to avoid investigation into Matt’s death – after all, he’s been houseless and struggling with his mental health ever since he was banned from practicing law, right? – and to rid himself of Daredevil once and for all.
Unfortunately for Kingpin, Matt doesn’t die. He’s nursed back to health by his estranged mother, a nun named Maggie, whom Matt remembers blessing him in his hospital room after the accident that caused his blindness. He only recalls her necklace, a golden cross, and when he point-blank asks Maggie in issue #230 if she’s his mother, she lies – which Matt only knows because he hears her heartbeat jump.
Aside from these two encounters, Matt hasn’t seen his mother since he was a baby. She left after her severe post-partum depression led her to try to hurt her son, and even after becoming a nun and getting her faculties back, she chose not to return to her family for their safety. Maggie’s first comics appearance is in Daredevil #230, and her backstory is revealed in post-Born Again issues.
When Karen eventually arrives in New York in issue #230, she contacts Foggy to ask about Matt’s whereabouts and Foggy insists on her staying with him when he realizes her traveling companion has been physically abusing her.
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Meanwhile, Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich is following the Kingpin story, which results in Matt shadowing him once he’s recovered enough to do so. Kingpin believes Matt is in hiding, so he breaks a violent patient out of a mental hospital, dresses him up as Daredevil, and sends him to kill Foggy in issue #231. Karen is caught in the crossfire and Matt saves her, then forgives her for revealing his identity, and the two get back together in issue #232 and even move in together while Matt picks up a job as a diner cook.
But Kingpin isn’t done yet. In issue #232, acquires the super-soldier Nuke (who was loosely adapted for season 2 of the Netflix Jessica Jones series) and orders him to launch a general assault on Hell’s Kitchen, which Matt ends in his first reappearance as Daredevil since his apartment was firebombed way back in issue #227. He tries to kill both Nuke and Nuke’s pilot, but the Avengers take Nuke into custody when he survives the fight.
At this point in Daredevil #233, Captain America does research into Nuke’s background and finds out he’s the only surviving test subject from multiple attempts to recreate Project: Rebirth, which is how Steve Rogers became a super-soldier during World War II. Nuke escapes custody and is ultimately killed by the military and dies before Daredevil can convince him to testify about Kingpin’s machinations. Instead, one of the hitmen sent after Nuke names Kingpin, resulting in a wave of lawsuits.
Kingpin avoids most of the charges, but his public image is tarnished… not forever, but for a while.
How Daredevil: Born Again might be adapted for the MCU
As we mentioned above, parts of the Born Again story were loosely adapted for Daredevil season 3. So where does that leave Daredevil: Born Again?
Based on where She-Hulk: Attorney At Law lands in the MCU timeline – shortly after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Daredevil’s looming appearance in the Disney Plus show means Matt will make his MCU debut chronologically before actor Charlie Cox’s first MCU appearance as Matt in Spider-Man: No Way Home. If that’s confusing, don’t worry – the point is, it’s not exactly clear when Daredevil: Born Again will fall in the MCU timeline, but it will most likely take place after She-Hulk and possibly before Doctor Strange removes Peter Parker from everyone’s memories.
Plus, Daredevil’s new suit – his iconic yellow look from the comics – was previewed in She-Hulk: Attorney At Law episode 5 on Disney Plus. In the comics, Matt’s first Daredevil suit is primarily yellow because he makes it from his late father’s boxing robe. The color is also thematic of his early relationship with Karen Page, as chronicled in writer Jeph Loeb and the late artist Tim Sale’s Daredevil: Yellow (opens in new tab).
The introduction of the yellow suit could indicate that there’s no shared continuity between Daredevil: Born Again and the Netflix Daredevil series. In that show, we saw Matt go from a homemade, all-black costume to his red suit. Now, we may see him move from yellow to red, or even just stick with the yellow.
Alternatively, Daredevil: Born Again could continue from the Netflix series, with Matt being ‘born again’ several years later and therefore using this new suit. Ultimately, the continuity status of the Netflix-Marvel series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Defenders, and The Punisher) matter for the MCU. Now that the Multiverse has been introduced, it could even be possible that the version of Matt Murdock/Daredevil we see now isn’t the one we know from before.
Since the current and future phases of the MCU seem to focus on magic-users and supernatural beings, Daredevil’s identity could be revealed ala Peter Parker’s in No Way Home, then either left in the public consciousness or wiped out as the overall story in the MCU continues.
Given how many parts of the Born Again arc were already brought into Daredevil season 3, a direct adaptation of Miller and Mazzucchelli’s comics doesn’t entirely make sense, but a continuation could. Specifically, the aspects involving Captain America and the Avengers could tie into New World Order, which is also slated for release in 2024. We may also see elements of Daredevil: Yellow in the new series, depending on how things shake out.
Born Again is one of the best Daredevil stories of all time.