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At the annual San Diego Comic-Con this year, Mahershala Ali was announced as being cast to play the supernatural superhero Blade in a future Marvel Cinematic Universe, who also played Cotton Mouth in Marvel's Luke Cage in 2016 (which they say is set in MCU).

This is not the first time something like this has happened, Alfre Woodard who played the role of Miriam Sharpe (the lady who blames Tony for her son's death in battle of Sokovia in Civil War) also played the role of Mariah Dillard in Marvel's Luke Cage.

Now, we all know how they talk about "it's all connected" but is it really?

What does the casting of Ali as Blade implies? Like the Marvel TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel-Netflix shows aren't canon to the MCU anymore?

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  • 9
    Huh, seems people these days are forgetting that these actors are only playing characters. All this CGI and characterisation makes people think we're seeing actual characters not just some folks playing them? One person could play a dozen characters and I'm not thinking about clones here.
    – Mithoron
    Jul 27, 2019 at 15:51
  • Once related, always related isn't it?
    – Vishwa
    Jul 28, 2019 at 6:08
  • @Mithoron i suspect this is the result of C.U.s amoung many studios that have been going on for more than a decade...uninformed (younger imho) just simply dont know there difference between actors and characters..or i guess never did. Jul 28, 2019 at 17:56
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    I mean, Star Trek (particularly TNG, IIRC) is pretty famous for casting a single actor as many different characters, even within the scope of the same show. It's not like this practice of recycling actors is unheard of prior to MCU.
    – Steve-O
    Jul 28, 2019 at 21:47
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    Ali is far from the first MCU actor to have multiple roles in the franchise. Alfre Woodard, Peter Mensah, even Sean Gunn technically.
    – DanDoubleL
    Jul 29, 2019 at 17:34

2 Answers 2

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They never were

The Netflix-Marvel shows had their own world, and aside from a few movie mentions in some of the series, they were never really part of the MCU.

Marvel is also reportedly planning on rebooting Daredevil in the MCU when their streaming app comes out:

Cosmic Book News claims their source has told them that the studio plans to reboot Daredevil and co. within the MCU, with new actors set to play the heroes.

CBN reports that they’ve been told the Netflix series were never officially considered part of the MCU and so Marvel has no problem with rebooting them once they get the rights back from the streaming service in a couple of years’ time. The site puts this down to the poor relationship between Marvel Studios, which is presided over by Kevin Feige, and Marvel Television, headed by Jeph Loeb.

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    Oh come on that's not fair, that implies way too much retagging on SFF xD
    – Jenayah
    Jul 29, 2019 at 18:22
  • @Jenayah Can't you do a query to update all at the same time? xD Jul 29, 2019 at 18:32
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    Yeah probably but that'd clutter the homepage with bumping edits... Let's just wait for Marvel's official take on this ;)
    – Jenayah
    Jul 29, 2019 at 18:33
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    Claiming that the Netflix shows "were never officially considered part of the MCU" (aka Earth =19999) seems like a pretty ridiculous retcon.
    – jsh_197
    Nov 17, 2020 at 15:59
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    There's a lot of rumors and baseless speculation out there; I'm not sure the source of this rumor is necessarily a credible one. Also, the main claim of the answer (the part that actually addresses the question) seems entirely unsupported; can you cite any reliable sources that support what you're claiming about the live-action Marvel shows on Netflix "never really [being] part of the MCU"?
    – V2Blast
    Nov 9, 2021 at 18:20
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Yes, the Marvel Netflix series are indeed part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as officially confirmed.

While there was some ambiguity in the past, recent developments have solidified their connection. As of the release of Echo in January 2024, all the Marvel Netflix shows have been officially integrated into the official MCU timeline on Disney+.

screenshot of Disney+ official MCU timeline page

screenshot of Disney+ official MCU timeline page

screenshot of Disney+ official MCU timeline page

Why the initial distance?

Brad Winderbaum, Head of Streaming, Television, and Animation at Marvel Studios, shed light on this. While the Netflix series were technically part of the MCU from the beginning, Marvel Studios kept them somewhat separate. The primary reason was the overwhelming task of orchestrating the first decade of MCU films, culminating in the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

However, the redevelopment of Daredevil: Born Again prompted Marvel Studios to officially integrate the Marvel Netflix series into the MCU.

Daredevil: Born Again’s creative overhaul also prompted Marvel Studios to finally embrace Netflix’s former Marvel shows as MCU canon once and for all. These Marvel Television-produced series, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders, were always technically in the MCU, but Marvel Studios kept them at arm’s length due to their overwhelming task at the time of trying to culminate their first decade of films with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

So it wasn’t until recently that Marvel Studios made these canon additions official by including the tiles for each former Netflix show in their MCU timeline on Disney+.

“We finally said it out loud,” Winderbaum says. “Flash forward now to Disney+, where we are actually laying out the timeline with tiles on a screen, all of a sudden we’re like, ‘We should just do it. Let’s do it.’ It was also spurred by the redevelopment of Daredevil: Born Again, once we started to really lean into some of the mythology and backstory that was established in those Netflix shows.”

Q: Marvel Studios recently proclaimed the former Netflix shows to be MCU canon. They’re even reflected as such on Disney+. Now, I’ve seen some people try to say that Marvel changed their mind on this subject, but the way I see it is that you finally made up your mind. Would you also say that you kept your options open as long as possible?

Brad Winderbaum: We finally said it out loud. When the Netflix shows were coming out and being made, we were building towards Infinity War and Endgame. We were trying to balance all of these film franchises and get them to culminate onscreen in these two epic movies. To say it was a challenge is not even correct. It was one of the most challenging creative endeavors the studio ever undertook. I’m not sure there will ever be anything like it again in cinema. It took so much to get all that stuff to galvanize in that one place and in that one time so that people could have that experience in the movie theater.

So, at the time, to say, “Alright, we’re also going to take this television show and wrap our heads around that,” it would’ve been too much, even though we were communicating back and forth. Everyone on the television side and the film side knew what each other was doing, and you can see that there’s a continuity there. The references do line up, but it was just too much for us to wrap our minds around at the time.

Flash forward now to Disney+, where we are actually laying out the timeline with tiles on a screen, all of a sudden we’re like, “We should just do it. Let’s do it.” It was also spurred by the redevelopment of Daredevil: Born Again, once we started to really lean into some of the mythology and backstory that was established in those Netflix shows. I was asked about this during the press for Echo, and I realized, “Oh, it’s not just assumed. People have an active interest and they want confirmation.” So we were able to do it fairly quickly, and it’s interesting that the service of Disney+ actually became the statement just by rearranging those tiles. That’s our medium to define the canon now, which is wild to think about.

- ‘X-Men ’97’ EP Brad Winderbaum on Kevin Feige’s Mandate and How ‘Daredevil: Born Again’ Updated MCU Canon — The Hollywood Reporter

The return of Daredevil and Kingpin to the MCU

The MCU film Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) marked the return of Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer who moonlights as the vigilante Daredevil. Cox continued to play Matt Murdock / Daredevil in the MCU TV series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022) and reprised his role as Daredevil in Echo (2024). Vincent D'Onofrio reprised his role as Wilson Fisk / Kingpin in the MCU TV series Hawkeye (2021) and Echo.

Cox and D'Onofrio will again reprise their roles in the Phase 5 MCU TV series Daredevil: Born Again (2024), which will also star Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle / the Punisher, both a foe and ally of Daredevil. Bernthal first played the Punisher in Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2, before he headlined his own TV series, Marvel's The Punisher. Wilson Bethel, who played Bullseye / Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter, a skilled marksman and assassin, in Marvel’s Daredevil Season 3, will also return for Daredevil: Born Again. Cox will also voice Daredevil in the animated TV series Spider-Man: Freshman Year (2024).

Jennifer Walters has finally met her match in Matt Murdock. While the character was teased earlier in the season, he’s finally reintroduced to audiences in Episode 8 of Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk — and he’s very much the same Matt Murdock audiences have come to know and love over the years, once again played by Charlie Cox returning to the role.

“Knowing that Charlie was taking this character on again and that we got to reintroduce him through this show, the dynamic between him and Jen is so, so special,” Star Tatiana Maslany explains to Marvel.com.

- ‘She-Hulk’: Bringing Matt Murdock into Jen Walters' Life — Marvel.com (emphasis mine)

Vincent D'Onofrio has said that he played the same character in Marvel's Daredevil and Hawkeye, and that "there are [as] many dots connected as we can possibly connect."

Many fans have long debated whether Marvel Television’s Defenders-centric shows are actually MCU canon and, given Fisk’s new status, some may assume this is a “variant” of the antagonist. However, when I spoke with Vincent D’Onofrio, he provided a clear answer as to whether this is the exact antagonist from the original series:

It’s the same character. Yeah, I mean, the way that we saw it on Hawkeye, or [what] I ended up believing, is that there are [as] many dots connected as we can possibly connect, and some are just impossible to connect. But I think… it's the same as a lot of the MCU stuff that's done, that [Marvel Studios head] Kevin [Feige] does, and all the incredible filmmakers, you know, they try to connect to the original stuff as much as they can. … But then there's dots that can't be connected. And I think we tried to do the same thing with connecting Daredevil to… or Hawkeye to Daredevil and Daredevil to Hawkeye. You know, it's like that.

So worry not, fans, this version of New York’s biggest crime boss is meant to be the same one you first met back in 2015.

- Hawkeye’s Vincent D’Onofrio Explains MCU Kingpin’s Daredevil Connections — Cinemablend

In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant for the new series, D'Onofrio opened up about his Kingpin return in Hawkeye. When asked whether the Disney+ series exists separate from Netflix's Daredevil, the star confirmed that both versions of the Kingpin are the same and explained how Marvel connected the dots between them. See what D'Onofrio said below:

"I think from my point of view, like a lot of the Avengers stuff, a lot of the MCU stuff, they tried to connect as many dots to the original canon as they can, and some dots are just not possible to connect. And that's what we've done with connecting to Daredevil and vice versa. There's some dots [that] are connected. Like in the Hawkeye show, Fisk is obviously physically stronger and can take more physical abuse. But the key to his being an interesting character, in my mind, will always be the fact that he has this emotional life that grounds him, that makes everything work, as far as I'm concerned.

We can sell that character in so many facets. Story-wise we can sell it, if we keep him based in that emotional life. And I know that the writers, and the producers, and me, and everybody involved in the Hawkeye show, we were all on the same page about that. I have to say that they're very collaborative people and – not only to mention awesome people, very nice – but the producers, like I said, the writers and the directors were all just thrilled to work with so we kept along those lines. And I think that's what will continue to make the character interesting if there's anything next for me to do."

- Hawkeye & Daredevil's Kingpin Are The Same, Confirms Vincent D'Onofrio — Screen Rant

D'Onofrio also mentions what changed in Fisk since his last appearance in Marvel's Daredevil:

The comic book behemoth is also a bit more power-hungry now within the world of Hawkeye, and as Vincent D’Onofrio explained, there’s actually a specific reason for this within his MCU arc:

It was always established to me that it's after the Blip and that he has lost the power that he had in Daredevil, and he wants it back. … In Hawkeye, he considers that he's lost a bit of the control of his city, and he wants his city back.

- Hawkeye’s Vincent D’Onofrio Explains MCU Kingpin’s Daredevil Connections — Cinemablend

D'Onofrio confirms in an interview with Comic Book Central that Fisk and Daredevil from the Marvel Netflix series are the same characters in Echo (relevant part starts at 19:02):

Q: We're dancing around it because you've referenced the Netflix series quite a few times. […] It's the same guy?

D'Onofrio: Yeah.

Q: Charlie Cox same guy?

D'Onofrio: Yeah.

Note: The above is copied from my other answer in Science Fiction & Fantasy SE: Are the Marvel Netflix series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?


Like the Marvel TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel-Netflix shows aren't canon to the MCU anymore?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't canon to the MCU.

What does the casting of Ali as Blade implies?

I don't think it implies that Luke Cage is not in the MCU anymore, considering that Gemma Chan was cast as two different, unrelated characters in two different MCU films (Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel and Sersi in Eternals). Ali's casting as Blade is similar.

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