Night Nurse: Marvel's Golden Opportunity

With the second season of Marvel/Netflix’s Daredevillooming on the horizon and casting rumors for Doctor Strange coming at fans like a swarm of locusts, now seems the appropriate time to discuss the pseudo-obscure, nocturnal medical professional who has tended to the health and well-being of both titular characters… Night Nurse. Is it really possible that this lone, “d-list” SFC (that’s “Strong Female Character” for you newbies) can be the knot that ties several of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s television shows into a wonderfully cohesive bow? Can she honestly make the MCU’s “shared” universe feel more, well, shared? If Marvel is smart with how they play their hand, the answer is a resounding “YES!”

 Originally conceived as a medical drama aimed at Marvel’s female readers, Night Nurse was the title of a four-issue series published in 1972. The book focused on roommates Linda Carter, Georgia Jenkins, and Christine Palmer and the adventures surrounding their nighttime employment at a New York City hospital. While devoid of the standard super heroics that readers would find in a standard Marvel comic book, the series did feature hitmen, bomb plots, and unethical medical practitioners. Clearly, plot devices for Grey’s Anatomy had to originate from somewhere.

It would be 30+ years before any of these women would make their presence known in the modern 616 universe. Christine Palmer cameoed in the 2004 Nightcrawler series while Linda Carter would take the moniker of Night Nurse as a codename and appear in DaredevilDark Reign: Elektra, Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers, and Doctor Strange: The Oath. The latter character would become the go-to for any super hero that needed patching up.

This may be the point where fans of the Daredeviltelevision series start scratching their heads. Linda Carter? Georgia Jenkins? Christine Palmer? What about Claire Temple? Surely there is a fourth “night nurse” going by the name of Rosario Dawson’s character on the gritty crime-fighting Netflix venture!

Prior to the release of Daredevil’s first season, speculation was flying about which SFC Rosario Dawson would play. Elektra? Echo? Typhoid Mary? During a Comic Con panel, Marvel’s Jeph Loeb was quoted as describing Rosario’s character as “a nurse… who works at night.” That settles it. She must be playing Linda Carter. Afterall, she can be linked to Daredevil in 616 continuity. Who else could it possibly be? Interestingly enough, it the nurse in question was not Linda. Enter the MCU’s version of Claire Temple.

Claire Temple first appeared in the pages of 1972’s Hero For Hire #2. Like Linda, Claire was a nurse in New York City but worked in a clinic as opposed to a metropolitan hospital. As fate would have it, her employer, Dr. Noah Burstein, would be responsible for bestowing Luke Cage with his superhuman abilities. With her marriage to Bill Foster (a.k.a. Giant Man, a.k.a. Goliath) in shambles, a short-lived romance between Claire and Luke Cage blossomed. In the end, Claire ended the relationship due to the constant danger that seemed to follow Luke and the super hero life, in general. Following their breakup, Claire went on to complete her PhD and continued to practice medicine in Manhattan.

It was now apparent and assumed that Rosario Dawson would be portraying a composite of both Claire Temple and Night Nurse (Linda Carter). Amalgamated characters are not new to cinematic versions of super hero comic book characters (the Sunspot/Sunfire mashup from X-Men: Days of Future Past comes to mind). However, what Marvel appeared to be doing with Claire Temple on Daredevil seemed like an intelligent step in the direction of making the MCU feel more connected and cohesive between its various properties. Potentially embodying the traits and character relationships that both women have in their 616 representations suddenly connects Claire to several of the existing and upcoming MCU releases.

The MCU’s properties are intended to share the same universe. Thus, the events depicted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers films (this includes the Captain AmericaIron Man, and Thor movies), Daredevil, and all future televised/cinematic releases are all intended to be happening within the confines of the same world. Herein lies the problem. Aside from a few crossover cameos from characters like Lady Sif and the high ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. officers, some throwaway references to the “Battle of New York,” and Raina’s vague, precognitive visions of Ultron, the MCU could definitely benefit from additional concentration on strengthening the thematic connection between all of their properties. Assuming that Marvel will move forward with the character in her current presumed iteration (a combination of 616 Linda Carter/Claire Temple), this new Night Nurse could prove to be an integral part of that connection.

What is known for sure, at this point, is that Rosario has struck a deal with the necessary involved parties that will allow for her Daredevil character to appear in other upcoming Marvel/Netflix series. This opens up possibilities for Claire Temple to be a recurring or guest star on Jessica JonesThe Defenders, etc. What makes this potential crossover interesting is that this version of Claire would already have reasons to interact with most of the characters on these other programs. The combined 616 canon of Linda Carter and Claire Temple ties both women directly and indirectly to the majority of the other properties.

The upcoming Jessica Jones series (debuting in late 2015) will feature Krysten Ritter as the former super hero turned private investigator and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. It has been strongly hinted, if not outright stated, that Cage will already possess his superhuman abilities when the character is introduced on the show. Referring back to the 616 connection between Cage and Claire Temple, it has already been established that they had met prior to the procedure that resulted in his near invulnerability. Assuming that Rosario really will be bringing her character to the other Netflix shows, her impending appearance on Jessica Jones would make complete sense due to her direct connection to Luke and, by association, to Jessica.

Doctor Strange is another Marvel project slated to hit theatres in 2016. Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and Rachel McAdams have all been tied to casting rumors for the upcoming release. 616 Linda Carter was originally linked to Stephen Strange via the 2006/2007 miniseries, Doctor Strange: The Oath. The story saw Night Nurse assist the Sorcerer Supreme in retrieving the cure for cancer from another dimension in order to aid his assistant, Wong. With this canonical character tie already in place, the MCU’s Claire Temple could easily have reason to appear in an upcoming Doctor Strange film, further cementing a connection between the newer celluloid ventures.

Perhaps the most important bond that Rosario Dawson’s Night Nurse could seal is that of the Avengers films and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television show. It is no secret that the upcoming super hero Civil War that will take place in the next Captain Americafilm will feature a bevy of characters that have made their presence known in the MCU. One can only assume and hope that some of the familiar faces on AoS will cameo in the film and vice-versa when the event is depicted on the small screen. Heroes will be forced to take sides following the implement of the Super Hero Registration Act (if the film elects to follow its source material). With the arrival of the Inhumans, this conflict should unquestionably spill over into AoS, leaving the team fragmented between the two opposing sides. How does Night Nurse factor into the Civil War? During the 616 story, Linda sided with Captain America’s anti-registration coalition and aided the resistance from one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s old safe-houses. By then her initial exposure to the super hero world should be well under her belt and it would not be beyond reason to see the MCU’s Claire Temple act in a similar capacity throughout the events of Captain America: Civil War.

Recently, while speaking at the 2015 Television Critics Association, Daredevil’s showrunner, Steve DeKnight discussed Rosario Dawson’s character. His words opened up further speculation about the character and future appearances of the Night Nurse:

The feature side (of the MCU) had plans for her (Linda Carter) down the road so that was the only time we ran into a conflict. So we just used another name.

That single statement opened up an entire new debate as to whether or not Rosario Dawson was portraying a composite of the two nurses as originally believed. Would Rachel McAdams be cast as an official version of Linda Carter in Doctor Strange instead of the assumed role of either Clea or Morgana Blessing? Does the MCU really need two nurse characters when one could easily, and for logical reasons, maneuver between each storyline?

In a recent interview with CBR, DeKnight added a bit more to the Night Nurse debacle:

All I know is that the original Night Nurse (Linda Carter) that we were talking about, we had her name in the script, and it came back as possible they were going to use it. They weren’t sure at the time. I’m not sure if they ever moved forward with that on the feature side. So, we just switched to another character that was very much, kind of the same realm as Night Nurse.

Taking into account the fact that Rosario Dawson has confirmed Claire Temple’s involvement in the other Marvel properties, it stands as a good possibility that Marvel has scrapped its original plans for Linda Carter and may go forward with the amalgamated character that she has been believed to have been playing all along. In the end, it may take Rosario delivering the Night Nurse’s catch phrase in order to make it official… “Go to the room on the right.”

Follow Shaun N. on Twitter at @datura1979.

Shaun N.'s picture
on July 30, 2015

A Marvel fanboy whose super powers include throwing side-eye, drinking whiskey, and re-reading back issues of "Alpha Flight."

Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat: ThatShaun