Summary

  • Netflix’s
    Defenders
    projects may now officially be part of the MCU canon, potentially introducing a range of Marvel heroes and villains to the MCU.
  • Characters like Madame Gao, Iron Fist, Elektra, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Claire Temple, Stick, Kilgrave, and Luke Cage could potentially return in the MCU.
  • Jessica Jones’ return could potentially connect various street-level stories and tease the formation of Heroes for Hire.

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Marvel Studios’ apparent confirmation that Netflix’s Defenders projects are now canon to the MCU brings several brilliant Marvel heroes and villains into the franchise’s official timeline. Long before Marvel Studios began developing its own TV shows for Disney+, set prominently in the world of the MCU, Marvel Television expanded the franchise by producing several series for networks and to stream. Recently dubbed The Defenders Saga, Marvel Television’s six Netflix shows introduced Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Punisher into live-action, but their futures in the MCU were left uncertain after Marvel Television was folded into Marvel Studios.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, have already returned in the MCU, while Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher, is set to join them in Daredevil: Born Again.

Daredevil, The Defenders Saga’s first series, debuted on Netflix in 2015, and the small-scale, street-level franchise continued until Jessica Jones season 3 in 2019. Since then, the canon status of Marvel Television’s series has been disputed, but The Defenders Saga’s six shows were integrated into the MCU’s official timeline on Disney+ following the release of Marvel Studios’ Echo on January 9, 2024. While Marvel Studios hasn’t provided an official comment, this perhaps The Defenders Saga’s events are now canon to the MCU, which means characters included in the franchise may have been residing in the franchise for several years already, including some of the most powerful characters in the MCU.

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10 Madame Gao Expands Kingpin’s Criminal Empire

Madame Gao Is A Member Of The Hand In The Defenders Saga

Madame Gao in a blue room in Daredevil

Wai Ching Ho portrayed Madame Gao in Daredevil, Iron Fist and The Defenders, introduced as a criminal mastermind in New York City. Gao was revealed to be a member of the Hand, a villainous syndicate founded when Gao, Alexandra Reid, Murakami and Sowande abused the teachings of K’un-Lun. Her confidence and presence in the face of vigilantes such as Daredevil and the Defenders team makes her an incredibly threatening force, and her ability to overpower and strike fear into even the heart of Wilson Fisk’s Kingpin solidified this fact. Gao may have been killed in The Defenders, but it’s possible she could return to wreak havoc in the MCU’s future.

9 Danny Rand’s Iron Fist Brings A New Realm Into The MCU

Danny Rand Can Be Done Justice In The MCU

There has been some criticism aimed at Finn Jones’ portrayal of Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, over the years, but he would make a fantastic addition to the MCU, particularly in the wake of 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Rand received his Iron Fist abilities after training in the mystical realm of K’un-Lun, which could have a prominent role in Shang-Chi’s future MCU stories alongside Ta Lo. Iron Fist’s mastery over his chi powers makes him a formidable hero on the streets of New York City, setting him up to battle some of the MCU’s more supernatural threats, should he be featured in upcoming street-level projects.

8 Elektra Natchios Will Provide Conflict For Matt Murdock’s Daredevil

Elektra’s Fate After The Defenders Is Uncertain

Elektra Natchios with red mask in Daredevil

Élodie Yung has previously expressed her interest in reprising the role of Elektra Natchios in the MCU’s future, despite her apparent death at the end of The Defenders. While Daredevil’s ally-turned-enemy was trapped inside Midland Circle as it crumbled in The Defenders, no body was ever found, suggesting she could be back to her vigilante antics in the MCU’s current timeline. Jennifer Garner is set to return in Deadpool 3 as Elektra Natchios from 2003’s Daredevil and 2005’s Elektra films, which could create the perfect opportunity for Yung to also reprise the role in Phase 5 or beyond, potentially even reuniting with Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, a.k.a. Daredevil.

7 Colleen Wing Is A Powerful New Female Hero

Colleen Wing Became A New Iron Fist In The Defenders Saga

Colleen Wing with her sword in Iron Fist

Colleen Wing was introduced in Marvel Television’s Iron Fist as a supporting character to Danny Rand upon his return to New York, but she soon became perhaps even more pivotal than the Iron Fist himself. Forming a close bond with Rand, Claire Temple and Misty Knight, Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing would be great to see in the MCU’s future, especially after she realized her own potential as a new Iron Fist in The Defenders Saga. Wing could even team up with Misty Knight to finally deliver the canceled plans for the Daughters of the Dragon spinoff, forming a powerful new team of female superheroes in the Multiverse Saga or beyond.

6 Misty Knight Could Introduce The Daughters Of The Dragon

Misty Knight & Colleen Wing Can Team Up In The MCU’s Future

Misty Knight with her prosthetic arm in Luke Cage

First seen alongside Mike Colter’s Luke Cage in his self-titled series, Simone Missick’s Misty Knight became pivotal in aiding the Defenders in their battle against the Hand. Knight even sacrificed her arm in the line of duty, but was gifted a formidable bionic arm that gifted her some impressive abilities and set her up perfectly to become a Daughter of the Dragon alongside Colleen Wing. This highly-anticipated spinoff never happened as Marvel Television’s shows were canceled in 2018 and 2019, but now that The Defenders Saga is included in the MCU’s official timeline, the opportunity is there for this powerful team-up project to finally be developed.

5 Claire Temple’s Night Nurse Can Help Other MCU Heroes

Claire Temple Appeared In Most Defenders Saga Series’

Claire Temple was one of the most consistent threads connecting The Defenders Saga on Netflix, as Rosario Dawson portrayed the character in every Netflix series except for The Punisher. Initially introduced in Daredevil season 1, Claire Temple is a former night shift nurse at Metro-General Hospital who found herself increasingly embroiled in the lives of her new superhero friends. She would patch them up following their battles, and now that it’s possible she’s been canon to the MCU for several years, it’s likely she will have also come across other street-level heroes, or could in the future, including Spider-Man, Moon Knight and Echo.

Claire Temple even found herself embarking on a romantic relationship with Luke Cage, though his vigilante antics would drive them apart, leading to them breaking up in Luke Cage season 2.

4 Stick Is A Formidable Opponent To The MCU’s Hidden Villains

Daredevil’s Mentor May Be Revived In The MCU’s Future

Stick with a sword in The Defenders Saga

While Madame Gao was a key figure in the Hand, Scott Glenn’s Stick led the charge against them as a member of the Chaste, the Hand’s ancient enemy. Stick also mentored the young Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios, and being blind himself, could provide more personal advice and guidance to Murdock during his fighting training. Stick’s wit, sarcasm and dry personality created some of the best moments in The Defenders Saga, so he certainly deserves a reprisal in the MCU, though his death at the hands of the villainous Elektra Natchios could pose a problem when trying to revive him for the MCU.

3 Kilgrave Can Return In The MCU’s Future

Kilgrave Apparently Died In Jessica Jones Season 1

David Tennant's Kilgrave in The Defenders Saga

While many iconic Marvel heroes from The Defenders Saga could surely return in the MCU’s future, the fact that the franchise may now be considered canon to the MCU means that some of the franchise’s most powerful villains could also reappear. Perhaps the most anticipated reprisal comes in the form of David Tennant’s Kilgrave, a mind-controller who debuted in Jessica Jones season 1. Kilgrave is evidently a vile and harrowing villain, but the opportunities his dangerous abilities present to other villains in the MCU, including Wilson Fisk’s Kingpin, could shake up the world of the MCU forever, and create the biggest threat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes may have ever seen.

2 Luke Cage’s Teased Criminal Empire Could Be Important

Luke Cage’s Unbreakable Skin Will Make Him A Formidable MCU Hero

Luke Cage running Harlem's Paradise in The Defenders Saga

Despite being featured as a heroic vigilante in Luke Cage season 1 and The Defenders, Luke Cage season 2 saw Mike Colter’s titular unbreakable hero tease a villainous future. Cage inherited Harlem’s Paradise from Mariah Dillard in The Defenders Saga, and seemed to set himself up as the new crime boss of Harlem, though his fate is unclear as there has currently been no continuation of this storyline. Luke Cage is a prominent member of the Avengers in Marvel Comics, so it would be great to see him have a larger role in the MCU’s future, whether that be as a villain or as a superhero alongside the former Defenders.

1 Jessica Jones Connects Several MCU Heroes

Krysten Ritter Has Been Rumored To Be Returning As Jessica Jones

Any returning hero from The Defenders Saga would be a great sight, but Jessica Jones returning could link many of the MCU’s street-level stories. As a private investigator, Jessica Jones’ MCU return could tease the formation of Heroes for Hire, and could set up some of the best adaptations of Marvel Comics’ stories into live-action, including the birth of her daughter with Luke Cage. Krysten Ritter has been rumored to be appearing in the MCU for several years, but there has been no confirmation of this so far. Now that The Defenders Saga may be canon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, her return is more possible than ever before.

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