Marvel Studios recently dropped a bombshell that they would be partnering with Netflix in creating four brand new television series based on some of their “street level” characters for a 2015 release date. These characters include Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. Following each of these individual television series, a mini series entitled “Defenders” will join these characters together to fight crime as a team, in a similar vein as the Avengers. With this news, Collider wants to walk you through each of these characters to get you prepared for the upcoming Marvel/Netflix shows. Hit the jump for our first week entry on Daredevil.
Daredevil! The Man without Fear! When Matt Murdock attempts to save an old man’s life by pushing him out of the way of a moving truck, his life is forever changed when a barrel of radioactive waste splashes onto his eyes, blinding him permanently. Though he has lost his sight, he gains the ability to “see” his environment around him with a radar sense. Over the years, Matt trains intensely in the gym, and in school, to not only become a lawyer, but fight crime after the murder of his father, the boxer Battlin’ Jack Murdock. With the help of the enigmatic ninja named Stick, Daredevil is born to fight crime and protect the innocent in the boroughs of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Now that we’ve gotten the official origin out of the way, Daredevil is the most recognized, by and large, among the four upcoming characters in Netflix’s lineup. He’s also the oldest character as he was originally created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett around the same time as more famous characters such as Spider-Man, The X-Men, and The Avengers back in the 1960s. Matt Murdock is one of the most unique characters in comics as his powers are derived from his disability. He also works within the justice system as an attorney, where he defends people that he knows are innocent, usually relying on listening to their heartbeats to discern whether or not they’re lying about committing whatever crime it is they’re being accused of. But why did Marvel decide to push for Daredevil as a television series, even after the critically panned film with Ben Affleck failed to garner the attention it was looking for? Let’s try to answer that.
Matt Murdock is one of the most interesting characters you’re going to find in comic books today. To say he’s complex is an understatement, as he has gone from struggling his way to pick up the pieces of a shattered life (multiple times in fact) to swinging fancy free above the streets of New York without a care in the world. While both of these are polar opposites of the spectrum, they both work extraordinarily well for the character of Daredevil. When writer/artist, Frank Miller (who has created such stories as Dark Knight Returns and Sin City), was given reins of the book in the 1970s, he created what is thought of by many to be the pinnacle portrayal of the character. He introduced parts of Matt Murdock’s past, such as his mysterious girlfriend, Elektra, and his mentor, Stick, as well as many other parts of the character that are still used to this day.
Throughout the years, Daredevil has had some of the greatest creative teams working to make Matt Murdock stand out amongst his comic book brethren. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark, and currently, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are but a few teams whose runs you should really check out to get the best understanding of the character. All of the writers and artists recognize that there’s something that sets Daredevil apart from other super heroes. Matt works as an attorney during the day which allows for a new environment for writers to play on, that can be easily adapted to the small screen (think a show like The Practice if Dylan McDermott then slipped on a horned mask at the halfway point of each episode.) With Daredevil, you won’t be seeing him working at a newspaper or brooding in his mansion, he’s too busy with billable hours for that!
Daredevil has quite the “Rogues Gallery”. Mostly street level villains, Murdock finds himself tangling with enemies such as the mastermind, the Kingpin, the assassin who is deadly with any weapon, Bullseye, and the insane femme fatale, Typhoid Mary to name a few. Most of Daredevil’s villains work well for both the story itself, and design as each portrays a striking image. Kingpin, mob leader Wilson Fisk, is a powerhouse who may look like he eats predominantly at White Castle, but it is in fact all muscle…somehow. In his spare time, he plots on how to destroy Matt Murdock’s life and fights ninjas in his skivees.
Daredevil’s “Joker” can be found in the form of Bullseye, who is an assassin who can kill his victims with something as small as a paper clip. Bullseye has killed two of Daredevil’s girlfriends, Elektra and Karen Page, and manages to torture the blind hero at every turn. There’s a level of insanity to Bullseye that you can’t find in a lot of characters that would be great on the small screen. I believe Bullseye also has one of the most simple, yet striking costumes in the comic world, and hopefully with Marvel Studios willingness to show off more and more of the costumed side of the Marvel U., as was seen in The Avengers, we’ll get a Bullseye who dons the famed black spandex.
Finally, Typhoid Mary is a woman who is plagued by split personality disorder. Of course, if it were just as simple as that, she would hardly be a threat to old Hornhead. Each of her personalities has a different power associated with them, and for the most part, they’re all pretty much insane. Surprise, Matt also dated her at one point in his career so it would add another level of showing that while Matt may be a superhero, he doesn’t always make the best decisions and sometimes that can come back to bite him later one.
As I touched upon earlier, this won’t be the first time we’ve seen Daredevil in the media. In 2003, Fox Studios released a Daredevil motion picture which starred Ben Affleck as Daredevil, Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Colin Farrell as Bullseye, and Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin. While there were some good parts about the movie, such as illustrating Daredevil’s vulnerabilities as he dragged his beaten body into a sensory deprivation tank to escape the noise of the world, there was just more bad than good to be found. There are lessons to be taken away from the movie though, such as no more Evanescense! I kid, sort of, but really there needs to be more of a balance between Matt Murdock, the lawyer, and Matt Murdock, the super hero. Really delve into the world of Matt as an attorney, running his own law practice while dealing with crime at night. Focus more on Matt’s imperfections as a lady’s man rather than giving him only one love interest from start to finish.
The upcoming television show already has a leg up on the movie in the fact that it will have the ability to take its time with the story, as it has 13 hours, minimum, to work with rather than only two. Take an approach of creating a procedural drama wherein we can follow a new case from week to week, both in the courtroom and on the streets, with an overarching storyline connecting everything together. Delve more into Matt’s early life with Stick and connections to Elektra, as he trained to become the man he will one day become. Most importantly, draw from the comics! The stories that are attached to Daredevil are some of the best superhero stories that have been put to print.
Come back next week, as we delve into the character of Jessica Jones.