Marvel’s Night Nurse might be their most interesting character at the moment as far as the Netflix series and the MCU are concerned. Rosario Dawson has been playing the character of Claire Temple ever since patching up Matt Murdock in Netflix’s first season of Daredevil, and her “Night Nurse” character has been the common thread throughout the follow-up series Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. And while that fact might ultimately unite the Marvel TV superheroes as The Defenders, in one way or another, the existence of one Night Nurse on TV complicates the possibilities for another version within the MCU.
In Scott Derrickson‘s upcoming Marvel movie Doctor Strange, Rachel McAdams plays Christine Palmer, another character associated with the Night Nurse moniker in the comics. She’s also clearly playing a nurse or health professional of some sort, as revealed in official movie images. However, it seems that she’ll only be assisting Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a professional capacity and not as a fellow costumed character, as confirmed by Kevin Feige in a chat with EW.
When asked if fans would see McAdams as Night Nurse in Doctor Strange, Feige replied, “I will say that that story line does not play into the movie.” That carefully worded statement leaves open the possibility of that transformation occurring in the future. According to Feige, “It’s just as much fun for us as it is for the fans to speculate about that.”
McAdams wasn’t much help in confirming or denying this eventual possibility, saying only, “Mum’s the word on that one.” But reading within the context of what Daredevil Season 1 showrunner Steven S. DeKnight said about Night Nurse in the summer of 2015, we have a better idea of Marvel’s ultimate (possible) plans for the character:
“Really the only time that we got a ‘no’ was originally Rosario Dawson’s character had a different name. She was going to be an actual Night Nurse from the comics and the feature side had plans for her down the road, so that’s the only time that I actually ran afoul and we couldn’t do something. We just used a different name, so it’s the same character.
“The original Night Nurse that we were talking about, we had her name in a script and it came back that it’s possible they were going to use it. They weren’t sure at the time, and I’m not sure if they ever moved forward with that on the features side, so we just switched to another character that was kind of the same realm of Night Nurse.”
Whether the original name they wanted to use was going to be Linda Carter, which is still up for grabs, or Christine Palmer remains to be seen, but either way it looks like the feature film side of Marvel has had some plans in mind for Night Nurse for a while. This decision could be a bittersweet one: If Dawson’s Claire Temple dies and unites The Defenders with her sacrifice, that would be a shame, but the narrative mistake could be patched over somewhat if Christine Palmer were to hear of Night Nurse’s legacy and decide to take up the mantle herself. It would at least be another step toward connecting their TV and big-screen universes. Or, and this would be even more surprising, Marvel could let two Night Nurses exist at the same time, one on TV, and one in the movie-verse. These screens rarely cross paths with the exception of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on occasion and the infrequent mention of The Avengers, etc., so any connective tissue they can string together only serves to tighten their world-building.