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Wait, Who Is Kingpin Again? And Is ‘Daredevil’ in the MCU Now?

Recent Spidey and Hawkeye developments have created questions. We have answers.

Marvel / Netflix / Disney

Getting into superhero stuff is fun, but it can also feel like homework sometimes. Right now, you may be aware that a 2015 Netflix show is suddenly relevant for a 2021 Disney+ show and also is connected to a certain movie about a spider-person that is slaying at the box office right now. Basically, both Hawkeye and the new film, Spider-Man: No Way Home are both making a big deal about the show Daredevil, which yes, ended back in 2018. So what’s the deal? What the hell is going on here?

In the closing moment of Hawkeye Episode 5, Vincent D’Onofrio returned as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. But questions abound! Is this Kingpin the same guy that D’Onofrio portrayed in the (until now non-canon) Netflix Marvel’s Daredevil from 2014-2018 opposite Charlie Cox’s Daredevil? Or is this some new iteration: a D’Onofrio-portrayed Kingpin wholly new to the MCU? We’re going to explore that with you, but let’s start with a primer on Kingpin’s deal in the comics and Marvel’s Daredevil show so you’ll have a good sense of what’s afoot as Hawkeye comes to its conclusion.

Who Is Kingpin in Marvel Comics?

Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin of Crime, runs the New York City crime families like a businessman—a particularly vicious businessman. First appearing in Amazing Spider-Man in 1967, Fisk became the primary antagonist to Matt “Daredevil” Murdock. While physically imposing at 6’ 7” and some 400 pounds, and a merciless hand-to-hand combatant, Fisk is most feared for intelligence, cunning, and tactical vengeance. Clashing across numerous storylines, Fisk and Murdock’s lives have become entwined with each man’s loved ones suffering in their ongoing battle for the soul of New York City. And, importantly for the events of Disney’s new Hawkeye, Fisk also seemingly adopted Maya “Echo” Lopez…after murdering her father.

What Did Kingpin Do in the Netflix Show Daredevil?

Over Daredevil’s three seasons on Netflix (from 2015-2018), Fisk clashed with Charlie’s Cox’s Matt Murdock for the fate of Hell’s Kitchen. Vincent D’Onofrio was perhaps one of the most brilliant castings in the MCU. His portrayal of Fisk brought a depth and pathos wholly original to Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix: his acts of violence are astonishing in their contrast with tenderness he shows his wife, Vanessa. After being defeated by Daredevil, Kingpin pursues his revenge on Murdock from prison on Ryker’s Island–eventually manipulating the FBI into attempting to have Murdock killed.

To be clear, Kingpin did not appear in the other interconnected Marvel Netflix shows (Jessica Jones, The Defenders, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and The Punisher) but he was mentioned in both Luke Cage and The Punisher.

Is Daredevil part of the MCU now?

Maybe? Or maybe not. After the Netflix shows—Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders—were canceled in 2019, several Marvel Studios folks have suggested these shows are not canon—i.e. they’re not officially part of the larger storytelling of the MCU.

But…then D’Onofrio pops up as Kingpin on Kate Bishop’s iPhone at the end of Hawkeye episode 5; and (oh my!) Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock appears as Peter Parker’s lawyer in No Way Home. So, within a span of one week, suddenly the MCU is reintegrating the canon of the Netflix shows, starting with the hero (Matt Murdock) and villain (Kingpin) of Daredevil.

So, what’s the deal? We see two possibilities.

  1. These versions of Fisk and Murdock are being built from scratch: while Cox and D’Onofrio are portraying the same character, the writers will not be bound to the stories and events of the Netflix shows. Marvel’s done this before, of course: J.K. Simmons plays two different versions of J. Jonah Jameson in both Tom Holland and Andrew Garfield’s respective universes. Same character, same actor: different guy, different universe.
  2. Kingpin and Murdock’s appearances signal that the Netflix shows are canon–and all their characters and stories can be folded back into the MCU (which they were originally connected to, after all). This would be the most direct door for everyone from Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page to Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones to find their way into future MCU projects.

So, even if Hawkeye and future Marel projects make these Daredevil connections more explicit, the MCU will never be completely airtight when it comes to continuity. The canonicity of Agent Cater still feels fuzzy relative to the end of Endgame, Edward Norton still mysteriously became Mark Ruffalo in between movies, and don’t even get us started about Agents of SHIELD. If the very popular (and mostly awesome) Netflix Marvel shows suddenly have a second life thanks to Hawkeye and Spidey, that’s a pretty powerful move from Marvel.

But with great power, comes great canonicity. Or something.

As of December 22, Hawkeye will be complete and streaming on Disney+. Spider-Man: No Way Home is in theaters now.