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(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

While they’re both Marvel TV series, She-Hulk and the recently released Echo couldn’t be more different. Led by Tatiana Maslany, the former sees lawyer Jennifer Walters comically try to juggle work and dating, while the latter centers on Alaqua Cox’s Maya Lopez, as she tries to reconnect with her Native American roots in between bloodying up bad guys. They’ve got one thing in common, though: showcasing how Daredevil is the MCU’s most versatile character these days. 

After weeks of fan anticipation, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) shows up in the first episode of Echo, gets into a gnarly brawl with the titular anti-hero, and then sods off. Thanks to the show’s TV-MA rating, it’s a nasty fight – bones break, explosives go off, Dave Porter’s dramatic score ratchets up the tension – and presents Hornhead as a real threat to Maya. Backlit by the sun streaming through a bunch of big windows, he’s almost shadow-like as he flips and kicks his way around the warehouse: an anonymous annihilator. I completely bought it. I also completely bought it when he sheepishly did a “walk of shame” (Cox describes it as a ‘stride of pride’) from Jen’s place in She-Hulk episode 8. Later, in the She-Hulk finale, Matt turns up to help our eponymous green hero, but is comically too late and just… winds up spending a romantic few days with her instead. 

It’s hard to imagine Maslany’s scatterbrained Jen rocking up to save the day in an Avengers movie down the line, while, at the same time, there’s no way you’d ever see Maya asking her pals for tips on how to improve her dating app profile. Some characters have their lanes, and that’s okay, but not Daredevil. Sure, the likes of quippy good guys such as Doctor Strange, Star-Lord, and Spider-Man get embroiled in life-and-death situations all the time; the difference is, those guys rarely stop cracking jokes in battle, and they’d never deliver physical blows like Daredevil does anyway. While Strange and the webslinger can use their powers on enemies from afar, The Man Without Fear has to get up close and personal, which makes him all the more menacing.

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

With multiversal wars to stop and otherworldly villains to thwart, many Marvel heroes these days don’t get time to be as multifaceted as the Murdock we’ve been treated to recently, which is wild given that he’s probably only racked up a few minutes of screen time across both shows. Sure he cameoed in Spider-Man: No Way Home, too, but such fan-serving moments are never focused on characterization. His still-brief but meaningful appearances on the small screen prove what is possible when the people behind these outings are allowed to deem it as important as action. Of course, it’s also a testament to Cox’s performance that he can balance Matt’s puppy dog-esque lover boy with Daredevil’s brutality so effortlessly – but credit is definitely due to She-Hulk’s showrunner Jessica Gao and Echo’s writing team for being brave enough to shake things up in the first place. 

There’s no denying that Marvel has been going through… a bit of a rough patch recently, with certain movies like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania not making bank at the box office and Secret Invasion pulling in woeful reviews. But in a strange way, I’m enjoying this more chaotic, experimental period within the MCU. Back in the Infinity Saga days, if you were a superhero movie fan, chances are you’d enjoy everything Marvel put out. They were good titles, but they were all the same when you think about it. There were no surprises, no risks. Now, you might end up loving the likes of Loki and She-Hulk, like I do, while your pals prefer Moon Knight and Black Panther – and enjoy endless debates on whose rankings are right. By not catering to everyone every time, Marvel is starting to cater to a specific few on a much deeper level some of the time. It’s much more fun and with a vast and rapidly diversifying universe such as this, characters like Daredevil, and his ability to adapt himself to any tone, might be all the glue we need. 

As the Hell’s Kitchen vigilante continues to become a more and more important player within the franchise, I’m excited to see what versions of him are explored further. Marvel recently confirmed that Netflix’s Daredevil is considered canon throughout the MCU, which points to his upcoming solo series Daredevil: Born Again following in its violent, more adult-aimed footsteps, as he faces off against the likes of Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Punisher (Jon Bernthal). With Jennifer Garner set to return as Elektra, there’s bound to be some spice there, as well. Though, while the studio has yet to confirm whether more She-Hulk antics are in store, I do hope we get to see Murdock’s goofier, googly-eyed side again, too. Superheroes are all about dual identities after all.

Echo and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law are streaming on Disney Plus now. For more on the MCU, check out our guides to all the upcoming Marvel movies and shows on the way as well as our breakdown of how to watch the Marvel movies in order.

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