A belated look at Daredevil in She-Hulk on Disney+

Apr 30, 2023

A belated look at Daredevil in She-Hulk on Disney+

Apr 30, 2023

Hey gang! In my futile(?) attempt to get caught up around here, I thought I’d finally offer up my two cents on Daredevil’s appearance in She-Hulk’s show on Disney+. It’s been a while since that show came out, but with Daredevil: Born Again currently in production – and Echo still in post-production – it remains Charlie Cox’s most prominent appearance as Matt Murdock/Daredevil since the final episode of the original show. At least in terms of screen time. If you’re counting eyeballs, I’m sure more people caught a glimpse of him in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

I actually had the good fortune of watching the first of his two episodes in New York City with other members of the #SavedDaredevil team, which was an amazing treat. And yes, we all loved it and watched it a few times while getting ready to head over to NYCC which was happening at the same time. As you all know, Cox also appeared in the final episode the week after which I got to watch back home. I enjoyed that too, but for slightly different reasons, which I’ll get back to below.

First, I’d like to address my general opinions on the show as a whole. I’m a big enough MCU fan that I’ve watched every single movie and show produced under the Marvel Studios banner, and I was obviously going to be watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law regardless of whether it was going to have Daredevil in it or not. Having said that, the Disney+ Marvel shows have been pretty hit and miss for me. I’ve enjoyed all of them to various degrees, but there have been some issues along the way in terms of consistency. One common problem that’s been ailing several of these shows has been the pacing, and the short run times. Marvel Studios seem to have taken the step from movies to television without really adapting their story-telling. Instead of taking cues from successful mini-series, the end result has tended to be a less than stellar, drawn-out “movie.”

Jennifer, as She-Hulk confronts her creator, the artificial intelligence K.E.V.I.N. in the show's final episode.
A look at the artificial intelligence K.E.V.I.N., complete with a little rim that looks like that of a baseball hat.

She-Hulk also suffers from some of these pacing issues, and has the added quirk of being Marvel Studios’ first real comedy television show (despite some darker themes), where you as a viewer go into it unsure of whether it would have more of a case of the week kind of vibe – with distinct episodic storytelling along the lines of a traditional sitcom – or lean more into the logic of a longer story arc. It turns out to be a little bit of both in ways that are not entirely clear at times. The show starts out strong with the first few episodes, and ends strong with the final two as well. However, there were some episodes in the middle that made the overall story seem somewhat disjointed to me. There were gratuitous diversions from the main plot that would have been more forgivable if they’d been more entertaining than they actually were, but which seemed almost wasteful given the short runtime of the show.

If it sounds like I’m coming down too hard on She-Hulk, I should point out that I would still rank it in the top half of the Disney+ Marvel output we’ve seen thus far, and it contains its fair share of strong scenes, clever concepts, and entertaining characters. But, Marvel Studios obviously still has real work to do when it comes to cracking the code for how to make television shows that come close to the quality of their most successful movies. This is just one of many reasons to be grateful that Daredevil: Born Again has been given a full season of television – 18 episodes! – to tell whatever story the creators have in mind. And, speaking of The Man Without Fear, let’s jump straight to Charlie Cox’s appearance as Matt Murdock and Daredevil in the penultimate episode.

Matt catches a whiff of jet fuel in court, in episode 8 of She-Hulk.
Jennifer, as She-Hulk unmasks Daredevil to discover Matt underneath.

“Ribbit and Rip It”

As mentioned above, I really enjoyed the “Daredevil episode,” (the eighth of nine) and I was never really worried that I wouldn’t. I’ve always been of the opinion that Matt Murdock can be a surprisingly good fit for at least some brands of comedic storytelling in ways that are not restricted to the comic book version of the character. Matt put his dry wit on display repeatedly during the original show, and on The Defenders, and the Bendis/Maleev run – which the original show clearly looked to for much of its general tone – features some of the fandom’s favorite quips. (“I thought it was yellow.”) What I’m getting at is that it would take a whole lot for She-Hulk to “break” the character of Daredevil. Especially when he is in the hands of someone like Charlie Cox who not only knows the character well, but would also not hesitate to speak up if he had to act out a scene that didn’t feel true to his sense of who Matt Murdock is.

When Matt finally appears in She-Hulk he does indeed find himself in humorous circumstances, as the attorney for superhero tailor Luke Jacobson who is being sued by none other than Leap-Frog, but the character feels entirely familiar and conducts himself with the authority we’ve come to expect. Sure, there’s a blind joke about finding parking, but that’s not in any way off-brand for any version of Matt Murdock. When Matt and Jen meet up later at a bar, we even get the sense that it’s Jen who is being pulled into Matt’s world and way of thinking more than the other way around. When Matt inspires Jen to think about how she might do good in both of her guises, it also comes at an important time for the show’s main character, and makes the inclusion of Matt Murdock/Daredevil feel organic and natural to the overall plot.

Daredevil gets to once again have his very own hallway fight scene!
Matt and Jen have a talk outside the Lily Pad after they've finished fighting the bad guys.

The action scenes where Matt (as Daredevil) and Jen (as She-Hulk) first duke it out – and then go on to team up – obviously make for lighter fare than you would see in Daredevil’s own show, but I appreciate the element of Daredevil-relevant nostalgia in having Leap-Frog cast as the utterly inept villain of the episode. Leap-Frog is an original Daredevil villain from the character’s rather lackluster Silver Age rogues gallery, and one that wasn’t even taken seriously in the comics in which he appeared. And, speaking of nostalgia, there are some great threads to connect Daredevil’s appearance in She-Hulk to the original show. Not only is the costume pretty much the same costume – with the exception of the “ketchup and mustard” color scheme – we also get to hear the original score for a few seconds, and get treated to a hallway scene!

The episode ends with Matt finally getting to have sex for the first time (outside of flashback scenes) since Charlie Cox first took on the role. I’m sure there was a range of fan opinions on this creative decision when the episode came out, though I’m struggling to remember what they were exactly. I personally felt like the characters had enough onscreen chemistry to make the scene feel natural, and I can certainly see how the preceding fisticuffs in Leap-Frog’s lair would set the mood. And, kudos to the writer for doing a humorous reversal of the guy struggling to unzip a woman’s dress as Jennifer takes instruction from Matt on how to get him out of his suit. As for thinking too long and hard about what this means for Matt’s presumed personal life in the post-Netflix era, I would suggest we just don’t. I feel this story is best understood as its own self-contained thing.

Daredevil meets Jen again in the final episode, just as the fight is over.
Matt having dinner with Jen's family sporting an unflattering plaid shirt.

And this brings me to the final episode, which takes the fourth wall-breaking to new extremes and brings Daredevil back for an encore. Just as the story is about to spin out of control, with creepy client/stalker Todd in the process of hulking out on stolen superpowers, Jennifer literally takes control of her own story. This is the kind of twist ending that was bound to make some viewers feel cheated in ways that I’m not entirely unsympathetic too. It’s the kind of move that either comes across as a bit of a cheat, or as clever and inspired. I, for one, quite liked this creative decision and thought it was both entertaining and true to She-Hulk as a character.

Where this might start to melt people’s brains a bit is when Daredevil is dropped out of the sky on Jen’s say so, and then ends up at a barbecue with Jen’s family. Isn’t this a little fast? Wasn’t he supposed to be going home? Is he really staying for a whole week? And what the heck is up with that shirt? Don’t fret! The way I see it, this is Jennifer writing fanfic using her own story so if my recommendation at the end of the previous episode was for Daredevil fans to enjoy this story on its own terms, that is even more the case here. Is it canon? Did this really “happen”? It probably doesn’t matter! Oh, and as a final note on this episode, the introductory montage inspired by the late 1970’s Hulk television show is pure gold. I loved it!

“Senses watch”

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering: “Hm, doesn’t Christine have anything to say about what was said or suggested about Matt’s senses? That seems odd.” To which I say: Of course I do! (And yes, it would be odd for me not to.) First of all, the way Matt notices the sent of jet fuel in court is a fantastic use of his powers, if you ask me. It’s especially noteworthy that this happens as Leap-Frog pulls it out and dumps it on the table, which would send a more easily noticeable amount of the scent molecules into the air. Two thumbs up!

Naturally, the scene that really made me sit up and take notice comes right after She-Hulk unmasks Daredevil in the parking lot. Following the expected “are you really blind?” moment, Matt goes on to explain that he uses a “spatial method.” It’s Jen who suggests the term echolocation, and Matt doesn’t disagree and further chalks it all up to the fact that he has really good hearing. Whether the powers that be have decided that what Matt uses is echolocation or “echolocation” (Matt himself puts air quotes around the term the second time it comes up), we are definitely not in world-on-fire territory here. As I mentioned in tweet thread linked below, detailing my reactions from when episode eight first aired, there may be some resistance to fully leaning into echolocation, but I think it’s noteworthy that it’s the first time the term has been uttered on screen for this version of the character.

I think that’s about it for now! I should mention that since I last posted, the audiobook version of my book finally made it to Audible where it’s been available for almost three months now. If you’ve read the book (in any format), and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review, or just a rating, on Goodreads and/or the platform where you purchased it. Thank you!

4 Comments

  1. Bill

    All good thoughts. People came down hard on this show, but I enjoyed it. I’m about half way through your book and enjoy you keen-scientific thoughts on how amazing our senses are. Hyper or otherwise,

    Reply
    • Christine

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy the rest of it too.

      Reply
  2. Rob

    Great series. And Matt’s episode was just about perfect. Our boy came across exactly how he would have in any of the albeit few fun lighthearted moments in the Netflix series. I loved the little moment in the bar when he pretends to not know exactly where his drink is. Playing the “helpless blind man” to see if she’ll slide it to him, which she does. Only issue I had, and this is silly, is when she pulls off his mask, Matt’s hair looks dry and perfectly styled as opposed to sweaty and matted.

    On another note. Do you think you’ll ever post about/examine Zdarsky’s run on the book, or are you just letting that pass?

    Reply
    • Christine

      Thank you for the comment! I haven’t read the DD comic for about two years at this point, and none of the things I’m hearing about it sound the least bit enticing. We’ll see if I ever get around to it, or sit it out entirely. I hope to get back to blogging more regularly either way. There’s still some Daredevil (TV) I’ve been meaning to cover, and I would really like to do a deeper dive into mid-70’s Daredevil. Working on the book really made me appreciate a lot of those stories more than I had previously. And, before too long, we’ll have more Daredevil on our screens as well!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *