Is Disney’s Daredevil Reboot Exploiting Workers’ Rights?

The Disney+ Daredevil reboot sparks controversy as showrunner Steven McKnight accuses Disney of exploiting workers’ rights through series reboots.

By Amitabh Mukherji
September 19,2023

Netflix’s acclaimed “Daredevil” show has become a fan favorite, but recent developments surrounding the upcoming Disney+ reboot have raised eyebrows and ignited controversy. The show’s original showrunner, Steven McKnight, has taken issue with what he perceives as an exploitative practice by Disney and Marvel Studios, and his comments have prompted discussions about fairness and worker rights in the entertainment industry.

The Disney+ Reboot Dilemma

Daredevil: Born Again

In May 2022, Disney+ announced a new series titled “Daredevil: Born Again,” which would feature Charlie Cox reprising his role as Matt Murdock within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Vincent D’Onofrio was also confirmed to return as Kingpin, alongside Jon Bernthal’s Punisher. While this news delighted fans, it raised questions about whether this was a continuation of the beloved Netflix series or an entirely new take on the character.

Marvel Studios has not explicitly labeled it a “reboot,” but several decisions suggest a fresh start. These include recasting Vanessa Fisk, revising Kingpin’s origin, and not bringing back key characters like Foggy Nelson and Karen Page. These changes indicate that “Daredevil: Born Again” is embarking on a new narrative journey.

McKnight’s Critique And Industry Practices

Steven McKnight

The controversy surrounding the Disney+ reboot caught the attention of Steven McKnight, the showrunner of Netflix’s “Daredevil” Season 1. McKnight responded to a post on X (formerly Twitter) made by a crew member from the Netflix Marvel shows. The crew member criticized the decision, alleging that Disney had canceled “Daredevil” once the crew received full raises and holiday/vacation pay, only to start a new series with different contract terms.

McKnight joined the conversation, denouncing this move as an “old Disney scam.” According to McKnight, Disney’s practice involves slightly renaming a series to reset contract terms back to first-season conditions. He urged all guilds and unions to address this issue and take a stand against it.

This practice has precedents in the entertainment industry, with Disney rebranding some of its series to circumvent contractual obligations. Joey Bragg, known for his role in “Liv & Maddie,” highlighted a similar situation where Disney used a series reboot to pay actors less during the fourth season.

Other Disney shows, like “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “Hannah Montana,” also underwent rebranding for their fourth seasons to potentially save on production costs. Even “Bunk’d,” initially a spin-off of “Jessie,” followed this trend after its fourth season.

The Broader Implications And Industry Strikes

Industry Strikes

Disney’s decision to reboot “Daredevil” within the MCU has ignited a conversation about fairness and workers’ rights in the entertainment industry. This controversy arises amid ongoing strikes by actors and writers demanding equitable compensation in the era of streaming platforms.

While actors like Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio are undoubtedly thrilled to join the MCU, the fact that the original “Daredevil” series and other Marvel shows on Netflix did not reach a fourth season has raised concerns. Fans eagerly anticipate the reboot, but it underscores the challenges faced by those in the industry striving for fair pay and compensation.

As the entertainment landscape continues to evolve, these ongoing discussions serve as a reminder of the complexities and controversies that can arise within the world of television and streaming platforms. The impact of these debates on the industry’s future remains to be seen, but they underscore the importance of addressing fair pay and workers’ rights in the ever-changing entertainment landscape.