Spoilers for Marvel’s She-Hulk below
He was initially introduced on—and subsequently canceled by—Netflix, but now Daredevil is finally in the MCU. After a coy tease with Matt Murdock’s cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home, Charlie Cox’s Man Without Fear made his official debut in the eighth episode of the She-Hulk Disney+ series, marking a continued transition of characters from Netflix’s Marvel series into the MCU proper.
Despite their popularity, the characters in Netflix’s shows lived in a limbo where events of the MCU Phase 1 were hinted at but never fully acknowledged, and the movies never referenced the series. That shift changed in late 2020 when Marvel Studios officially regained the rights back from Netflix and initiated plans to incorporate those characters into the fold. It began last winter with Vincent D’Onofrio’s return as Kingpin in the Hawkeye series, and then came Cox’s aforementioned No Way Home cameo.
In the wake of his She-Hulk episodes, GQ sat down with Cox about Daredevil’s new lease on life in the MCU, what he wants to see in the Daredevil: Born Again Disney+ series set for 2024, and what he’s learned from acting alongside D’Onofrio.
You’ve spoken about how you thought you were totally done playing Daredevil, so what’s it like to get a call from Marvel Studios and find that they want you back?
It’s mad. It’s a mad experience. As you say, I have spoken about the fact that, emotionally, I had moved on. We’d had a really great experience making the shows that we made, and I’d loved playing the character. I felt like it had been a success. Did I feel like there were scratches left to itch? Yes. Sometimes, it’s just the way it goes. I think it had been almost two years since I’d heard from anyone, so I really expected everything to move on.
Then, to suddenly now be, weirdly, at the start of the journey again—we feel like we’re just beginning again—I feel incredibly blessed, incredibly fortunate, and really excited to crack on and play this character some more.
Was She-Hulk presented to you when Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige first called? Or was it just No Way Home?
It was those two. Kevin was quite clear in our first conversation [that] it was gonna be maybe a scene in Spider-Man as Matt Murdock only, and then an episode or two of She-Hulk, where we would meet Daredevil again. After that, we’ll see. It was initially just those two things.
The tone of She-Hulk is less serious than what you’ve been used to, but it’s not far afield for some comic book stories: writer Mark Waid’s run in the 2010s, with its lighter tone,comes to mind. How do you reorient your performance around more comedic moments?
It was a really fun challenge. Because it was just the one episode—or two episodes, but just the one real episode where I was featured heavily in it—I felt like I had the opportunity to really play with the tone, which I’d say, is not completely alien to some of the print runs over the years, to play with the levity and have more fun with the character and see it as slightly outside of the Daredevil world that we had created all those years ago. To see that really as a challenge, as well as a kind of an experiment. Does it work? Can it play that way?
When we were making the show originally, I didn’t want that element to be completely missed. He can be very funny. Matt Murdock’s relationship [with his law partner] Foggy, the dynamic [between them] can be really interesting and bantery. I didn’t want to completely lose that. But in our show and the tone that we had originally, it was harder to find those moments. So this was a fun experiment.
The other thing was, it was quite clear immediately that if I didn’t do that [lighter tone], then Daredevil becomes the butt of the joke. Because everything is light-hearted and “don’t take it so seriously.” If he’s taking everything so seriously, then I don’t think you relate to him as much. I think he becomes the serious guy that doesn’t get the joke. I thought it was important that when She-Hulk and Daredevil go up against each other, he matches her—both in terms of his abilities but also his charm and charisma, and wit.
What are you excited to do in the MCU that you didn’t have an opportunity to do on the Netflix side of things?
I’ve learned that these questions are a little tricky because the problem with them is that if I start detailing things I’d like to do, then very quickly, it becomes a news story. It potentially gets in the minds of not only the fans but also the creators and the writers. I really want to be careful not to muddy those waters because if it turns out to be a good idea, it can be a shame because it robs the fans of that moment of discovery. So forgive me for being a little bit vague in this area.
I guess what I would say is: hopefully, on the Disney+ show, Born Again, we will be able to use—and I hope that we do it sparingly, I believe it should be used sparingly—but we’ll hopefully be able to use a tiny bit more CGI in the action sequences. Just to emphasize his gymnastic abilities that have been basically impossible to do. It really should be sparingly. I don’t believe there should be complete action sequences that are almost all computer-generated. Most of it should be stunt-coordinated and done by a stunt performer and myself or the other actors in a similar fashion to what we did before.
We can bookend it with these little moments. With the batons particularly, we could never really do anything in our show where Daredevil ricochets a baton off a wall and takes someone out because you can’t physically do that. It’s not safe and not possible…just these little moments would elevate scenes and be something that makes the show even more recognizable to the comics. That’s the stuff that happens almost episodically when you read the issues.
What are you looking forward to most about working with Vincent D’Onofrio again?
He’s obviously a lovely guy, but more than that, he’s just such an extraordinary performer. He’s such a great actor. To be able to work opposite him and show up for a day of filming and see what he brings to the scene—which is always so much richer and more nuanced and more interesting [than] you could even have imagined in your mind I probably learned more from him about acting than I have from anyone else I’ve worked with. I think he’s made me a much better actor. Hopefully, I can learn more as we can continue working together.
Can you give me an example of how he’s helped you improve?
I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing. There’s one thing that does jump to mind: There was a scene that we had together in a prison holding room. The structure of the scene was such that I came in, and we chatted. I had a long speech, and then he interrupted me and had a long speech.
In his speech, he would get quite angry and quite emotional. When we were filming his side of it—I’m used to, or have been trained in a way, that whenever we do a take, I would try to do the most consistently truthful take from start to finish, almost like it’s a piece of theater. I want the director and the editor to be able to use any take of mine in its entirety, which is sometimes helpful when you’re making television because you don’t always have that huge amount of time to get these scenes. Every minute counts. When we turn around on Vincent, I felt like he didn’t care so much about any individual take being perfect. He just wanted to know that amongst all of it, he had given the best options.
There were takes where he would start, and then, halfway through without the camera cutting, he would stop. He’d go back to the beginning. He walked out of the room. He came back in, got really frustrated with himself, he then did it again. He then started again. And the take went on for ages. But at the end of it, there were about seven different versions of that one speech. Some of it very icy cold, and chilling, others violent and angry. He just allowed himself to go to all those places in the one take, and he wasn’t worried about it. He understands—and I did too, intellectually—how an edit works. I’ve just never seen it done quite that way. I’ve gone on and used that in projects since then if there’s an opportunity where I feel like I need to try and play with a piece of text. I’ll do a similar idea and not worry about what’s happening in that moment and just know when they piece it all together it’s there.
This interview has been edited for clarity.