The new Marvel version of Daredevil will have a rating Disney has never tried before, but you can't do the Man Without Fear without it.
Ever since Charlie Cox showed up as Matt Murdock to legally represent Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home, fans have been wondering what is up with Daredevil. Is the Netflix version of Daredevil canon? Why did Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin seem to have leveled up in indestructibility in the Disney+ Hawkeye? Will we ever get a do-over on Iron Fist? A lot of these questions are still up in the air, and while Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio seem happy to talk about the changes they would like to see, it is all rumor and speculation at this point. That said, sources are indicating that Disney+ is going into production on their own Daredevil series, and it is going to be rated R. Shocking!
Glibness aside, it is a pretty big movie for Disney. The notoriously family-friendly company has historically been reluctant to reduce its audience by producing R-rated content. In the past, they have left it to subsidiary companies like Touchstone to make their adult-oriented content, but the massive (and swiftly rising) success of their Disney+ streaming platform seems to be changing the game. Of course, an R-rating by the MPAA translates to a TV-Mature for streaming platforms, but six of one, half a dozen of another. In this case, even bringing the Marvel-related shows that originally were developed and streamed by Netflix is causing some level of protest by parental groups for their relatively graphic depiction of violence (unlike say, Star Wars, in which a father chops his son’s hand off with a laser sword). But can you really have Daredevil without some ultraviolence?
It seems like Disney and their Marvel Studios branch don’t think so. While Netflix’s Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox, has said he would be open to a PG-13 version of the blind superhero’s adventures cracking skulls in Hell’s Kitchen, part of the appeal of the series was its grittiness. Compared to the levity of Iron Man’s quips and the often-goofy Shakespearian space adventures of Thor, the street-level battles of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist were downright brutal. The very first season of Daredevil was heavily promoted with images of Matt Murdock alternately savagely beating people and breaking bones or getting beaten up himself and inevitably getting back up. A new Daredevil show would presumably keep that in mind.
If Disney is bringing Daredevil back for a fourth season, all signs indicate that it would be a soft reboot rather than a complete overhaul. Vincent D’Onofrio has revealed that he was playing the Hawkeye version of Kingpin as the same character, history with The Man Without Fear intact. For his part, Charlie Cox tantalizingly hinted that he would be up for an adaptation of the legendary (and legendarily grim) Daredevil storyline “Born Again” that saw his character drive to madness after having his secret identity revealed by a heroin-addicted Karen Page. So, yeah, Daredevil gets pretty dark, and if Disney+ is going to do it right, they are going to have to do it Rated R.