Marvel's The Defenders will arrive this coming Friday on Netflix. This "supergroup" series will feature the leads from all Netflix's previous Marvel series, including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil. Of those, only the last one has had more than one season, with a full 26 hours of adventure prior to the new series. For those who don't have time to watch them all, let's review: What happened to Daredevil before The Defenders?
Daredevil, or as he is called on the show "The Devil of Hell's Kitchen," is, by day, a mild mannered lawyer, who also happens to be blind, named Matt Murdock. He lives in NYC, about eighteen months after the events of the first Avengers movie, where their climactic "battle of New York" is merely referred to as "The Incident." Murdock is not yet "The Daredevil" at this time, though he is just beginning to get a bit of a reputation around the neighborhood for his masked vigilante work. He is known as "The Man In Black" and folks assume he, like the Avengers, is a "powered person."
Here's a few more major plot points to know before hitting The Defenders.
Matt was blinded at the age of nine, when a truck full of hazmat containers hit him and spilled the contents. His father was a boxer who threw matches to make cash. Not long after Matt was blinded, his dad refused his benefactors and was killed for it. Matt was left in the care of nuns. (He's still catholic to this day.)
As he grew older, Matt's other senses became so heightened the nuns called in a mentor to help him -- Stick. Stick trained Matt, who already had his father's ability to take a punch, to be a master martial artist, and use those abilities to his advantage.
Nelson & Murdock
When we first meet Matt, he's just out of law school, and started his own company with his best friend Franklin "Foggy" Nelson. While Nelson is a practical sort who wants the creature comforts of upper class life that lawyering is supposed to bring, Murdock is an idealist who really believes he's going to help people.
Their first case is Karen Page, who is framed and then nearly murdered in jail for learning about some embezzling in the construction company that's rebuilding after "The Incident." her case leads them down the path to discover The Hand.
The Man In Black Meets Claire Temple
Claire Temple is the nurse who keeps turning up. Her first appearance is in Daredevil Season 1 when she finds Matt left in a dumpster to bleed out after walking into a trap set by The Hand. Throughout Season 1 she doesn't even know his name. (She calls him Mike.) By the end of Season 2 though, she's the go to for all under the table doctoring needed by anyone in Netflix Marvel-verse.
(Don't worry, she and Matt aren't really dating. She's with Luke Cage now.)
Wilson Fisk & The Hand
One of the best villains of the MCU anywhere, Wilson Fisk is presented as the "big bad" in Daredevil Season 1, though it turns out by the end of the season he's really just a medium sized one. Though he is an associate of The Hand, he's actually just one of their pawns, a damaged little boy who never got over killing his abusive father with a hammer.
Fisk also turns up in Daredevil Season 2, trying to orchestrate more trouble for Murdock from jail. By the end of it, he's figured out that Matt Murdock and Daredevil are one and the same, and we assume will be making more trouble in Season 3.
The Devil Of Hell's Kitchen
It takes all 13 episodes, but by the end of the first season, Murdock has made the jump from "the man in black" to the proper Daredevil suit of armor. (Fisk's ex armor maker, Potter, creates it.) By then Nelson has learned about Murdock's double life -- though he does freak out and try and break up their friendship when he first finds out. Murdock's vigilante work is key to the law firm successfully solving the case and putting Fisk behind bars.
It's the media who name him Daredevil, for the record.
Season 2 starts out by introducing a new superhero wanna be in Hell's Kitchen, a man who will be getting his own series next fall, The Punisher. His real name is Francis "Frank" Castle, and Nelson&Murdock spend the first half of the season trying to get him (as Castle) acquitted of murder. But The Punisher doesn't want to go free, and ruins the case when he takes the stand, in order to be sentenced to prison.
He's not there long though, Fisk gets him sprung. We'll find out more next fall.
The second half of Season 2 involves Elektra, a woman whom Matt met ten years previous and is more than a little in love with. Turns out she too was trained by Stick, but unlike Murdock, she's not a peacenik who refuses to kill. In fact she glories in it.
She and Daredevil team up, with her killing people, which upsets him, and him not killing people which irritates her no end. Still, clearly she has feeling for him, because in the finale of Season 2 she sacrifices her life to save his.
What Matt doesn't know is that her body is then taken and she is turned into The Black Sky by The Hand.
Stick & The Chaste
We've mentioned Stick a couple of times. His deal is that he's part of the anti-Hand group, The Chaste. He's been going around attempting to turn people like Mat and Elektra into soldiers for the coming showdown between the groups. He pretends not to have fatherly feelings for Matt, but he totally does, and he's really worried because he has no idea if Matt will be ready when the time comes.
As for Elektra, he kinda regrets training her, since she's a murderous freak. Just wait till he finds out she's the new Black Sky.
The woman who was Nelson & Murdock's first case, and spends both seasons working as their secretary and always doing sleuthing on her own. While Foggy is in love with her, she's in love with Matt. It's all very triangely. They do try and date, but it's around the same time that Daredevil is dating Elektra, and it all goes very badly.
She doesn't learn about Matt's alter ego until the very end of Season 2, and it's really awkward. Especially because she's quitting their firm to take a job as a reporter with The Bulletin.
At the very end of Season 2, Matt attempts to retire from Daredevil. He screwed up his relationship with Karen, Elektra is dead because of him, Foggy left their partnership to take a job with Jeri Hogarth from Jessica Jones. One can see his point.
Obviously this can't last, since he's one of the core members of the Defenders. But it might take a bit of persuading to get him to put the mask back on.