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Daredevil's Entire MCU Timeline Explained

As 2021 came to a close, fans of the Netflix series "Daredevil" were treated with not one, but two exciting surprises ushering in the return of the Man Without Fear to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although the Netflix series had been canceled, "Daredevil" leads Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Wilson Fisk/Kingpin have made their way back into the MCU, even played by their same actors, Charlie Cox and Vincent D'Onofrio respectively. With Cox's brief return to the red-glasses and lawyer-garb in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and the revelation that D'Onofrio's Kingpin is the real "big bad" of the Disney+ series "Hawkeye," there's a lot to look forward to — especially now that "Daredevil," "The Defenders," and the other Marvel/Netflix shows are alongside the Disney+ Marvel catalog.

Daredevil was created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett in 1964, and has been a Marvel Comics staple ever since. A "street-level" superhero, Daredevil protected the New York neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen by night, while working as lawyer Matt Murdock by day, defending those who couldn't defend themselves, physically and legally. Now that the Man Without Fear has returned to the MCU, it might be time to refresh our memories of what's happened so far to our favorite Marvel knight.

Origin Story

Matt Murdock was born in New York City in the 1980s. His parents are boxer named Jack Murdock and a nun named Maggie Grace. After Maggie returned to the church to deal with her postpartum depression, "Battlin' Jack" raised his son alone, hoping Matt would get out of the life of poverty they lived in. Because of his father's fighting career, Matt would often stitch up his Jack's injuries and care for him, becoming his biggest cheerleader from outside of the ring. After a freak accident sent toxic chemicals into Matt's eyes, he discovered that the rest of his senses — taste, touch, hearing, and smell — were all heightened. 

These abilities allowed Matt to overhear Jack's deal with some local gangsters to throw a fight in exchange for extra winnings. However, Matt convinced his father to win instead, which ultimately resulted in the mob killing Jack in revenge. After Jack's death, Matt was taken to an orphanage, where he was cared for by Maggie — now Sister Maggie, who he didn't know was his mother.

It was at the orphanage that Matt was found and trained by the blind warrior Stick. This training would allow him to eventually become Daredevil. Though, like Maggie and Jack before him, Stick would leave him too, forcing Matt to live out his days alone. That said, he wasn't completely alone, as he did befriend the local priest, Father Paul Lantom, who would give Matt guidance and advice most of his life.

Nelson & Murdock

After years of studying, Matt was accepted into Columbia University's prestigious law program, where he befriended college roommate Foggy Nelson. Matt and Foggy not only became quick friends, but would eventually share their deepest desires with one another. Inspired by Matt's hopes to use the law to help the underprivileged, Foggy stuck by Matt throughout their time at Columbia and beyond.

At Columbia, Matt also met Elektra Natchios and began a complex relationship with her. Their romance wasn't something to be admired, though, as they both became adrenaline junkies — especially after Elektra discovered Matt's hidden abilities, turning each other into the worst versions of themselves. After confiding in Elektra about his father's killer, a man named Roscoe Sweeney, she brought him to Sweeney's home with the intent on pushing Matt over the edge to kill him.

Matt rejected killing Sweeney, instead reporting him to the FBI. Feeling rejected, Elektra left Matt. Foggy, however, refused to leave Matt's side, and they came up with "Nelson & Murdock" together. After interning at the powerful New York firm Landman and Zack, Matt convinced Foggy to leave the money and prestige behind to help the people of Hell's Kitchen. Though he was initially hesitant, Foggy eventually agreed, believing completely in Matt's mission.

The Devil of Hell's Kitchen

Later that night, Matt would mask-up for the first time and forcefully stop a local father from abusing his daughter, deciding that the law would never be enough. It was here that he made the decision to become the Devil of Hell's Kitchen, and began wearing a black suit and mask to take on the criminals that ruled the streets. While doing this, he and Foggy began Nelson & Murdock, with their first client being a young woman named Karen Page who had been framed for murder. After proving her innocence, Karen became their secretary.

As Daredevil, Matt saved Karen's life twice, along with countless others who were harmed by the Yakuza, the Russian mob, and other forces that plagued Hell's Kitchen with drugs and violence. After being jumped by the Russian Mafia, Matt barely escaped with his life, only to be found and aided by a local night nurse named Claire Temple. Matt and Claire worked together to dig up more dirt on the Russians, all the while beginning a relationship of their own, but Claire could only handle so much.

Soon after, Stick returned to New York to enlist Matt's help to find "the Black Sky," a being of incredible power to the ninja assassin group known as the Hand. Unbeknownst to Matt, Stick planned to kill the Black Sky, who was only a child. After failing to stop his old mentor, Matt demanded that Stick leave New York for good.

Uncovering the Kingpin

After helping Karen prove her innocence, Nelson & Murdock eventually uncovered a plot to force all of Hell's Kitchen's tenants out of their homes, with a wealthy buyer hoping to demolish the neighborhood completely. Simultaneously, Matt-as-Daredevil had been tracking the Yakuza, the Russian Mafia, and other groups, learning that they were all in bed with one another, being commanded by a mysterious man named Wilson Fisk.

After nearly dying in battle against Fisk and his men, Foggy discovered that Matt on the brink of death. It's here that he learned his best friend was Daredevil, and hoped to convince him to end his crusade for good. Naturally, Matt refused, seeing Fisk as a threat that only he could deal with. This caused some strain within Nelson & Murdock, especially as they built their legal case against Fisk. After Fisk had Elena Cardenas and the reporter Ben Urich — all friends of Matt, Foggy, and Karen — killed, they worked tirelessly to put Fisk away. Eventually, Nelson & Murdock won the case against Fisk, sentencing him to federal prison.

While their plan seemed to work at first, Fisk's men reacquired their leader, hoping to smuggle him out of the country during his transport. Having caught wind of Fisk's plan, Matt suited up as Daredevil (in a new-and-improved armored suit) to take him head-on. After a brutal fight, Daredevil stands victorious over Fisk, and Nelson & Murdock are able to celebrate their victory over the crimelord.

The People vs. Frank Castle

As Daredevil continued to protect the city, a new vigilante — one more brutal than Matt — arrived on the scene: the Punisher. Punisher began killing criminals, mostly the Kitchen Irish, the Mexican Cartel, and the Dogs of Hell. One of his intended victims, a man named Grotto, was taken on by Nelson & Murdock as they hoped to get to the bottom of it. However, in the process, the Punisher — revealed to be a man named Frank Castle whose family was killed by the three gangs — killed Grotto, and captured Daredevil with hopes to convince him to think the same way.

Daredevil confronted Punisher on a few different occasions, and eventually rescued him after Castle was abducted and tortured by the Kitchen Irish. After Daredevil handed him over to the police, Castle was taken to the hospital to treat his wounds. Soon after, Nelson & Murdock represented Castle after he plead "not guilty," sending them to trial. Unfortunately, Matt's double-life kept him from helping much, but Foggy handled it like a pro. They had almost won over the jury before Castle went off script, declaring himself guilty.

Eventually, Castle escaped, discovering that the hit on his family was ordered by a man named the Blacksmith. Daredevil and Punisher worked together to take the Blacksmith down, though the Punisher ends up killing him, but not before first saving Daredevil's life. Finally recognizing Daredevil's mission, Castle aided Matt in his battle against the Hand.

Complex Relationships

During the events related to the Punisher, Matt and Karen began dating. It was simple at first, with dinners here-and-there, but it quickly became something more. Unfortunately, their relationship didn't last terribly long, and was completely undone by both Matt's secret life as Daredevil and by Elektra's sudden reappearance. The latter point causes Karen to break it off with Matt, instead choosing to help Frank Castle pursue the Blacksmith.

As Elektra made her way back into his life, Matt became torn between living completely as Daredevil and holding onto his life as Matt Murdock. His time with Elektra quickly reminded him of why they broke it off in the first place, but Elektra seemed to want to change. That is, until Stick shows up again, revealing the Hand's plot to wipe out New York — beginning with a mysterious hole they've been digging in the middle of Hell's Kitchen.

Their battle with the Hand gets sort of, well, out of hand as Matt, Stick, and Elektra are quickly outmanned by the league of ninjas. Things became especially complicated after Stick revealed Elektra's identity as the next Black Sky and attempted to kill her. This all comes after Stick admits to having sent Elektra to Matt in the first place, that he had hoped she would turn him into a killer to fight his war. By Season 2's end, Elektra was killed in battle by the Hand assassin Nobu and died in Matt's arms.

Devil No More

After Elektra's death, Matt was left heartbroken. Having failed to put away the Punisher or bring Elektra's killer to justice, he decided that it might finally be time for him to hang up the mask and forget his life as Daredevil. Because of this, he confesses his secret, his identity, and his abilities to Karen, and after some time to process they slowly become friends again. Matt swore off crime fighting for good, but as you can imagine, it didn't really stick.

In "The Defenders" miniseries, Matt returned to practicing law, defending the defenseless in Hell's Kitchen. While Nelson & Murdock no longer existed (Foggy took a higher-paying job elsewhere and Karen took Ben Urich's place at the New York Bulletin), Matt was happy to do what he could through the legal system to help. It's during this time that he took on Jessica Jones as a client, though she had no interest in legal counsel.

After Jones' release, Matt began following her, and in the process Jones discovered his strange abilities. Eventually, Jones' own investigation into mysterious tremors that had been occurring around New York City led her to a building called Midland Circle, home of the Hand. While inside, Matt teamed-up with Jones, the superpowered Luke Cage, and the billionaire warrior Danny Rand aka the Iron Fist. All of them happened to be investigating the same conspiracy and have to fight their way out, but not before Matt discovers that Elektra had been resurrected by the Hand.

The Defenders

After escaping Midland Circle, the four heroes hid in a local Chinese establishment, where they planned their next move. Matt insisted that he wasn't a part of any of this and attempts to leave ... until Stick arrived, explaining the Hand's plot to use the hole beneath Midland Circle to extract a resurrection elixir from the bones of a dead dragon. Yeah, it's a lot to take in. Too much for Matt too, but he didn't have a choice. Forced to fight alongside the others, they escaped the Hand once more, but not before Matt encountered Elektra and tried (and failed) to reach her.

Eventually, Danny Rand was taken by the Hand, forcing the rest of the heroes into Midland Circle to rescue him — but not before Matt shared a quick moment with Foggy, who pushed him to embrace Daredevil one more time. After detonating bombs around building, and ending the Hand once and for all, the four heroes won. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all made it out, but Daredevil and Elektra stay behind.

Matt refused to leave Elektra, even as the building collapses on top of them, and he confessed his love for her, hoping to save her once more. As the other heroes, Claire, Karen, and Foggy all watch in horror, Matt is buried alive beneath Midland Circle. Afterward, per Matt's wishes, Iron Fist protected his city in honor of Daredevil's memory.

Trials and Tribulations

Months later, Matt woke up in the orphanage he grew up in, with Sister Maggie taking care of him this whole time. Although Matt miraculously survived, Elektra's death caused him to have a crisis of faith, turning his back on God and cursing his abilities. Sister Maggie slowly encouraged Matt to regain his strength, and eventually he went back out on the streets as the black-suited Daredevil to defend the helpless.

All the while, Matt suffered from constant hallucinations of Wilson Fisk, all representing his doubt, anger, and fear. Eventually, Matt learned that somehow Fisk had weaseled his way out of federal prison and into a deal with the FBI, forcing Matt to reveal himself to Foggy. Though Foggy tried to convince Matt to take his life back, Matt explained that "Matt Murdock was dead," before leaving with Foggy's stolen ID badge.

Matt used this badge to break into the prison that held Fisk, only to be ambushed by Fisk's men on the inside. Not realizing that security cameras were watching his every move, Matt inadvertently revealed his abilities to Fisk, who sent seemingly the entire prison after him. Well, not the entire prison — Matt was able to convince a rival gang to help him out so that he might take Fisk down for good. It's here that Matt decided the only way to stop Fisk was to kill him.

Mistaken Identity

After Daredevil went after Fisk's operation once more, the criminal Kingpin unleashed his ace in the hole: a rogue FBI agent named Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter. Setting Dex up in a mock red Daredevil costume, Fisk sent him off to kill every witness that Matt, Foggy, and Karen had dug up on him. After Karen revealed to Fisk that she had killed his friend James Wesley, Dex set his sights on her as well.

During these events, Matt learned that Sister Maggie was indeed his mother, and that pain pushes him even further from God and his friends. In trying to reach Matt, Karen went to Sister Maggie, who offered her sanctuary in their church. Unfortunately, Dex discovered Karen's location and attempted to kill her once more. Unable to stop him, Matt hears in horror as Dex kills Father Lantom, who sacrificed himself for Karen. Though Matt and Karen are able to fight Dex off, he continued to pursue them through the FBI.

After hiding together to escape Fisk's FBI goons, Matt and Karen began to reconcile, and Matt decided that he might need help from his friends after all. This eventually led them to FBI Agent Ray Nadeem, who was being blackmailed by Fisk. Nadeem, wanting to do the right thing, helped the reunited Nelson & Murdock team build a case to take the Kingpin down.

Born Again

Although Fisk had Nadeem killed, the agent was able to release a video to Nelson & Murdock that was pretty damning to Fisk's case. But regardless of this new evidence, Nadeem's death pushed Matt over the edge, deciding for sure that the only way to stop Fisk was to kill him. Matt broke into Kingpin's penthouse the night of Fisk's wedding to Vanessa Marianna to take him out for good, but Dex arrived at about the same time, hoping to kill Fisk himself after the Kingpin betrayed him too.

Daredevil and his copycat fought once more, but Dex was paralyzed by Fisk after he attempted to harm Vanessa. Matt and Fisk engaged in a brutal combat that ends not with Daredevil killing Kingpin, but rather striking a deal: if Fisk no longer attempted to kill Foggy and Karen, and didn't reveal Matt's identity as Daredevil, then Matt wouldn't press charges against Vanessa for the crimes she committed alongside Fisk. Afterward, Fisk was taken off to prison once again.

It's these events, and Father Lantom's legacy, that taught Matt what it meant to be a Man Without Fear, and his touching eulogy at Lantom's funeral only reinforced that. But of course, this wouldn't be the end of Matt Murdock's journey.

Nelson, Murdock, and Page

Season 3 of "Daredevil" ended with Matt, Foggy, and Karen together again, with new hopes and dreams. Wanting to continue the work they started together in Season 1, they began their plans to start a new firm: "Nelson, Murdock, & Page." Though it's unclear if Matt continued on as Daredevil after putting away Fisk for a second time, we do know that he was in a much happier place. He even made up with his mother, both acknowledging their true roles in each other's lives.

About six years later, in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," after the supervillain Mysterio revealed to the world that Peter Parker was Spider-Man, Matt became Peter's attorney and got all the charges against him dropped. He explained that the public's opinion of Peter would affect him the most going forward. After an anti-Spider-Man protestor threw a brick through the Parker's window, Matt caught it before it could harm anyone, making Peter, Aunt May, and Happy Hogan all wonder. Clearly Matt still kept up with his abilities.

After Doctor Strange cast his "forget Peter Parker" spell at the end of "No Way Home," everyone, including Matt, forgot that either Peter Parker (and possibly Spider-Man) ever existed in the first place. While this was the last we've seen of Matt in the MCU so far, there's no doubt that there are more Daredevil stories for Marvel to tell in the future.