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The Man Without Fear Is Here

After repeated teases, Daredevil makes his MCU debut to help set up next week’s season finale of ‘She-Hulk’

Disney+/Ringer illustration
Spoiler warning

It’s been a long time coming, but Daredevil has finally entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In last year’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, Charlie Cox reprised his role as Matt Murdock for the first time since Netflix’s Daredevil series was canceled in 2018, but his appearance was brief and limited to his capacity of being a really good lawyer. In the latest episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Matt reminds us of his skills in the courtroom and in combat as Daredevil joins the wider world of Marvel superheroes in earnest.

Daredevil’s appearance in She-Hulk was first teased when the series’ second trailer premiered in July—and then again at the end of the fifth episode, when we got a glimpse of his new yellow-and-red suit designed by fashion icon Luke Jacobson. And though it took until the penultimate episode of the season for Daredevil to arrive, the wait was well worth it, and well-timed ahead of next week’s season finale. She-Hulk will surely draw in more viewers just before the end with the helpful push from Daredevil’s guest spot in “Ribbit and Rip It,” but the show utilizes him in a way that still fits into Jen’s story naturally, while also building even more anticipation for the Man Without Fear’s upcoming Disney+ series, Daredevil: Born Again.

Over the course of the season, head writer Jessica Gao and her creative team have shown their ability to anticipate viewers’ expectations, and the latest crossover episode is no different. After promotions teasing this week’s special guest, “Ribbit and Rip it” opens with a superhero—just not the one fans were hoping for. It isn’t until Eugene “Leap-Frog” Patilio takes Jacobson to court over a supposed malfunction in his costume, with Jen serving as his attorney, that Murdock makes his grand entrance at last. That is, only after he makes the court—and the audience—wait just a little bit longer, of course:

Screenshot via Disney+

Matt uses his heightened senses—and also just his common sense—to expose the so-called Leap-Frog’s careless misuse of Luke’s flawlessly-designed suit (casually revealing in the process that the Sokovia Accords were at some point repealed). Then he properly meets Jen over some drinks at the Legal Ease Bar & Grill. As perhaps the only person who can understand the double life that she leads as an attorney and a superhero (regardless of whether she’s ready to embrace the latter role), Matt offers some sage advice that encapsulates the existential journey that Jen has been on since she became a Hulk in the season premiere. “I think you’re in a unique position to do some real good,” Matt tells Jen. “You see, the way I see it, Jen Walters can use the law to help people when society fails them. And She-Hulk can help people when the law fails them.”

Of course, Jen has no idea at this moment that Matt could be speaking as much about himself as he is about her—after all, this is the same position we saw him try to navigate for three seasons of Daredevil. Although their origin stories are vastly different, Matt and Jen can work on both sides of the law in ways no other hero can, which has made for some interesting run-ins in the comics over the years. The most direct inspiration for this installment of Attorney at Law seems to be Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk run in 2014, which featured Murdock across multiple issues. The first instance finds Jen even seeking out advice from Matt; more specifically, the sort of unique position they share as lawyers who can help people when the law fails them:

Marvel Comics

Later in the same series from Soule and Pulido, Jen and Matt go up against each other in court for the first time, in a case that has none other than Steve Rogers at the center of it:

Marvel Comics

Given that Daredevil and She-Hulk’s comics histories date back to the 1960s and 1980s, respectively, these issues from Soule and Pulido’s run had decades of adventures and backstory built into them, including several crossovers involving the two characters. “Ribbit and Rip It,” in contrast, marks their first meeting in the MCU, and the episode highlights the dual lives that they lead. Not long after the court proceedings and their chat at the bar, She-Hulk—wearing a new suit of her own—faces and bests Daredevil in a minor skirmish that started thanks to a slight misunderstanding involving Leap-Frog and a little light kidnapping.

The teamup that follows feels like something straight out of the comics, as the two storied characters fight alongside each other as heroes in the MCU. They locate the kidnapped Jacobson at the aptly-titled Lily Pad “hideout” to confront Leap-Frog and his Leap Squad of Tadpoles. (I don’t know whether Eugene landed on an official name for his crew yet, but he’ll have plenty of time to keep workshopping one in prison.) Giving Daredevil the chance to shine on his own for a minute as Jen waits on the roof of the building, She-Hulk pays homage to the iconic hallway fight scene from the first season of the Netflix series, though Matt is clearly more experienced and better equipped to take on a few goons this time around.

After She-Hulk and Daredevil save Luke and inspire Leap-Frog to leap out of a window to his capture, their chemistry becomes … a little too undeniable, let’s just say. Matt, being the gentleman that he is, proposes they go to dinner the next time he’s in town, but Jen is eager to skip all that to finish the night back at her place—and can you blame her? Not only is this freakin’ Daredevil, but Jen somehow needed to wait for a superhero to fly in from across the country in the eighth episode of the season in order to meet a decent guy who wasn’t solely interested in her green alter ego or harboring some strange desire to kill her. Before Matt, Jen’s best options were pretty much limited to a coworker and—unless there’s some sort of mystic law that forbids it—the Sorcerer Supreme. (This isn’t House of the Dragon, so that eliminates her goofy-ass cousin, Ched.) At any rate, the morning after blesses us with one of the great, unexpected moments of the season: Daredevil’s walk of shame.

With Matt returning to New York, we probably won’t see him again until Born Again lands on Disney+, although there’s a decent chance that he’ll appear before then as a guest star in Echo. Given that Maya Lopez made her comics debut within the pages of Daredevil, Matt may be in line for yet another assist before his expected 18-episode season gets under way sometime in spring 2024. Vincent D’Onofrio, meanwhile, is already confirmed to reprise his role as the villainous Kingpin in Echo (after Maya presumably shot him in the face during the Hawkeye finale), so at the very least, that series will be able to provide some insight into Kingpin’s fate as soon as the summer of 2023. What remains to be seen is what kind of tone Born Again will adopt as Daredevil and Kingpin reunite in the MCU, especially after both characters appeared in more light-hearted Marvel entries than their shared Netflix series. In any case, Daredevil is back as if he’d never left.

But as Jen likes to remind her viewers, this is her show, not Daredevil’s, and the season finale approaches. In the concluding set piece of the eighth episode, the Intelligencia finally go public to execute the next step in their plan to take down She-Hulk. By projecting a sex tape that that slimy imposter Josh recorded in secret after their date at the end of the seventh episode, the Intelligencia attempt to slut-shame Jen in front of her friends, family, and colleagues at a gala being held, in part, in her honor. Their plan to bait her into a destructive rage works (understandably), setting the stage for Jen’s first real Hulk experience. To her cousin Bruce Banner’s surprise, Jen had been able to control what should have been blinding, green rage from just about the moment that his gamma-irradiated blood spilled into her wound, but now the world was viewing her as they once viewed him: as a monster. With the DODC aiming their guns at her instead of the Intelligencia members, the episode ends with Jen’s feral growls subsiding as her anger gives way to realization.

There’s a lot that needs to be covered within the tight span of a 30-minute finale, and the leader(s) of the Intelligencia have yet to be revealed. But after a date with Daredevil and some wise words from a fellow superlawyer, Jen may need to use both sides of her identity to get out of the mess she’s in as society and the law fail her all at once.