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Daredevil showrunner talks themes and inspiration for Marvel’s Netflix series

We’re still quite a few months away from the premiere of Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix, but that just means there’s more time for everyone to talk about the much-anticipated debut of the “Man Without Fear” — and that includes showrunner Steven S. DeKnight.

In an interview with Paste Magazine, DeKnight offered up some details about the tone and inspiration for the series, which is expected to have a significant presence at next month’s New York Comic Con in Manhattan.

Regarding the title character of the series, DeKnight confirmed the gritty, realistic take on the protector of Hell’s Kitchen that’s planned for the series — and the moral contradictions that are at the heart of a character who operates as a lawyer by day and a vigilante at night.

“Matt Murdock, on a regular basis, would get the s–t beat out of him,” said DeKnight of Daredevil’s alter ego, the blind lawyer whose other, heightened senses give him an edge over criminals. “That’s one thing that makes him a great character. He’s not super strong. He’s not invulnerable. In every aspect, he’s a man that’s just pushed himself to the limits, he just has senses that are better than a normal humans. He is human.”

“The other thing that really drew me to this character is that he’s one of the most morally grey of the heroes,” he explained. “He’s a lawyer by day, and he’s taken this oath. But every night he breaks that oath, and goes out and does very violent things.”

DeKnight also cited Frank Miller’s celebrated run on the Daredevil comic book series in the early ’80s as the inspiration for some of the series’ tone and themes. Miller’s acclaimed run as writer and artist on the series is credited for raising the character’s profile in both the comics world and in the general public, with his stories taking a darker, edgier tone than those that had come before, and making the Hell’s Kitchen are of New York City somewhat of a character of its own in the series. He also introduced the character Elektra to the Marvel Comics universe.

“The image that always stuck in my mind was Frank Miller’s Elektra run where [Daredevil] is holding Bullseye over the street, and he lets Bullseye go because he doesn’t want Bullseye to ever kill anyone again,” said DeKnight. “When I read that originally, when I was young, I’d never seen anything like that in comics. Superman scoops up the villain and puts them in jail. This time the hero didn’t do that. It was a morally grey ground that I found absolutely fascinating. There are two sides to this character. He’s literally one bad day away from becoming the The Punisher!”

Daredevil is scheduled to premiere on Netflix in May 2015.