[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home]
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a massive corporate franchise can. That’s not to say that Spider-Man: No Way Home doesn’t have magical moments, but that they’re all made possible because of Disney’s ownership of Marvel and all its characters (plus one friendly agreement with Sony Pictures).
One of the biggest surprises of the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film comes from a cameo that many fans hoped for, but few dared to dream would actually happen. It has big implications especially after the latest episode of Hawkeye, but it’s not just another IP-focused expansion of the MCU. The nicely presented cameo also continues a very fun Marvel Comics tradition.
Early on in Spider-Man: No Way Home, long before any of the multiversal shenanigans truly begin, Peter (Tom Holland) is struggling to survive the aftermath of Mysterio’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) scheme. Not only has Peter been unmasked but he’s also been successfully framed for murder. New York City and the world are split down the middle. Is Spider-Man a hero? Or a murderer who killed the interdimensional hero known as Mysterio? This chaos leads to him being taken into custody by the Department of Damage Control.
Aunt May correctly tells the kids not to talk until they get a lawyer, but each takes the advice in their own way. MJ is brilliantly cagey, knowing exactly how to avoid incriminating herself. Ned gives up everything. And Peter ... well, Peter gets a very good lawyer who we meet as we enter Aunt May’s apartment.
There’s good news on a few levels here. The lawyer explains that the charges against Peter won’t stick. And as he does, the camera slides over. First focusing on the cane, which Daredevil fans will recognize, and soon Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is revealed. The alter-ego of Daredevil is the second character from the Netflix Marvel shows to be confirmed in the MCU in 2021, after Vincent D’Onofrio’s notorious Kingpin showed up in Hawkeye.
While it’s only a brief appearance, it establishes Matt as an active part of the MCU. He even gets to show off his skills. In a neatly humorous moment as Matt warns Peter of the court of public opinion, a brick flies through the window. But rather than hitting its intended target, Matt catches it using his superhuman skills. And when Peter asks how he did it, he quips, “I’m a really good lawyer.”
It’s a fun moment that will really mean a lot to fans of Netflix’s critically acclaimed Marvel shows. But it also represents one of the funnest things about Matt Murdock and Daredevil: He’s a lawyer in a world of superheroes, so of course he represents superheroes.
This goes back as early as 1964’s Daredevil #2. In only his second appearance, Matt was asked to represent the Fantastic Four over the life and death matter of ... renewing the lease on the Baxter Building. Of course he was quickly caught up in some extremely dangerous and cosmic chaos, getting fired into space in a rocket while trying to stop Electro from stealing secrets from Reed Richards. In a hilarious twist, the Fantastic Four wound up hiring a different lawyer after Matt took too long to file their renewal — because he was fighting their rogues gallery as Daredevil! Oh, Matt.
Representing the Fantastic Four has brought Matt some of his most famous cases, including when Namor — the Prince of Atlantis — asked him to help him sue humanity in Daredevil #7. Matt was not into it, and the Sub-Mariner wreaked havoc across the city. Eventually, his would-be lawyer managed to forge a tempestuous alliance with the Atlantean.
Murdock also has comic book history with Spider-Man. He has both represented Spidey and been hired by him to represent his friends. During Spider-Man/Black Cat, Matt was brought on as Felicia Hardy’s new lawyer as she sat in Ryker’s Island accused of murder. According to Spidey, Felicia was innocent. But the pair decided to go around the justice system and break her out. Blurring that line between actual law and vigilantism is key to Matt’s history in the comics. And his connection to Spider-Man and his rogues gallery also comes up again and again.
In 1997’s Venom: On Trial, Matt even defended Eddie Brock, claiming that the host of the symbiote was not culpable for the crimes the alien committed while bonded to it. Though Matt didn’t technically win the case, Eddie did get off.
Across his long history, Matt Murdock has represented a huge swath of Marvel’s superhero universe, including the Hulk, Black Widow, and even Captain America. Although, Steve actually hired him to represent the prosecution accusing Steve of murder — so that everyone would know that Captain America didn’t get off just because his lawyer was also a celebrity superhero: She-Hulk. Speaking of that famed showdown, Matt appearing here likely won’t be the last time we see him.
With the Disney Plus legal dramedy She-Hulk just around the corner, these super-lawyers could very well be working alongside each other. And as for who Matt might represent next, well we’ve just started to scratch the surface of his sprawling superhero clientele.