What more do you need to know about Daredevil, beyond its affiliation with one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and its immediate ability to distract you all weekend long? Well, there are a few items to keep in mind, such as…
This isn’t Matt Murdock’s first live-action rodeo
Most people remember 2003’s Daredevil, whether they like it or not. Directed by Mark Steven Johnson and starring Ben Affleck as the Man Without Fear, the 20th Century Fox and Marvel collaboration wasn’t received well by… well, just about anyone. A director’s cut of the film exists, and it has its fans, but even then, Daredevil was widely viewed as a classic example of early 2000’s superhero movies just not “getting it.” Fox attempted to reboot Daredevil some years later, but eventually relinquished the rights back to Disney-owned Marvel Studios. The result? Well, we’ll see the results this coming weekend.
2003’s Daredevil wasn’t even Matt Murdock’s first live-action rodeo
And no, we’re not talking about his numerous comic book appearances dating back to 1964, either. The acrobatic hero’s first live-action appearance actually occurred many years before Affleck suited up in red latex. Multiple attempts at Daredevil television shows were made in the 1970s and 80s, but nothing popped, until actor Rex Smith portrayed the character in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, a made-for-TV movie about the Jade Giant fighting alongside Matt Murdock’s crime-fighting alter ego. This version of Daredevil wore an all-black ninja suit, like the Daredevil we’ll see in the upcoming Netflix series.
Who is Daredevil, anyway?
A fair question! The basics: Matt Murdock was blinded in an accident as a young child, leaving him without his sense of sight, but enhancing his other four senses to superhuman levels. His sense of sound, smell, taste, and touch are far beyond the comprehension of mortal men; on top of that, he’s a highly-trained martial artist, with a unique radar sense that essentially allows him to “see” his surroundings. Combine Murdock’s powers with his brilliant mind and thorough knowledge of the legal system as a lawyer, and you have one hell of a superhero package.
Who is beneath the mask?
Charlie Cox, best known for his multi-season arc on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, is the man bringing Daredevil to life. The 32-year-old actor from London, who also appeared in the genre-friendly Neil Gaiman adaptation Stardust, as well as last year’s Oscar darling The Theory of Everything, is an experienced but fresh enough face that he won’t distract from the role by bringing in too much outside star power. (No offense, Mr. Affleck. Big fan of your chin.)
Who does he hang out with?
A bunch of people! Number one on the list is Foggy Nelson, his best friend and business partner. Murdock’s fellow attorney is played by Elden Henson, best known for a movie he made over 20 years ago: The Mighty Ducks. (Fulton Reed! Knuckle pucks for everyone!) Like ducks, attorneys fly together, at least in Hell’s Kitchen. Beyond Foggy, prepare to meet Karen Page, played by True Blood veteran Deborah Ann Woll; she’s one of Murdock’s more iconic love interests from the comics, for a laundry list of good and bad reasons.
Next page: Four more facts you should know about Daredevil
Who does he throw down against?
Any criminal wreaking havoc on his neighborhood; really, Matt’s not picky. But the number one nemesis we’ll meet on Daredevil, at least in this first season, is Wilson Fisk, better known to comics fans as Kingpin. The phenomenal Vincent D’Onofrio plays Fisk in the Netflix series, and it’s said that this is as much Kingpin’s origin story as it is a Daredevil’s. In other words, expect to see Fisk rise and fall and fight his way through Hell’s Kitchen and back on his way to the top of the city’s criminal element.
Remember Elektra and Bullseye?
Jennifer Garner and Colin Farrell rounded out the cast of 2003’s Daredevil, playing two of the most recognizable rogues in Matt Murdock’s gallery. Don’t expect to see them here. Many fans thought Rosario Dawson had been hired to play the sai-slinging Elektra, but she’s actually part of the cast as Claire Temple, a version of the Marvel hero Night Nurse. The company line right now is that Elektra, as well as the eagle-eyed Bullseye, are sitting out of Daredevil, at least for this first season. As for the future? Who knows. But don’t expect to see these Daredevil icons in season one, unless Marvel’s keeping some surprises up their sleeve. And hey, this is Marvel we’re talking about; no one does the surprise ending shtick better. Speaking of which…
It’s a Marvel world…
… and Daredevil’s just living in one corner of it. Make no mistake: Daredevil occupies a street-level space Marvel has yet to truly explore, but this series is very much a part of the Marvel Universe — the same universe where time-displaced super-soldiers, thunder-cracking deities, and gamma-radiated monsters have been known to slug it out against an army of actual aliens in the middle of America’s busiest city. As grim and gritty as Daredevil gets, it will have to engage with the world of high-flying superheroes in passing at least, if not head-on. Indeed, early reviews suggest that the events of The Avengers will directly impact the New York City we see in Daredevil.
This is only the beginning
We will see Daredevil on Netflix again, whether it’s on a second season of his own series, or elsewhere. Marvel and Netflix are already hard at work on AKA Jessica Jones, a second superhero series starring Breaking Bad actress Krysten Ritter as a former hero who hung up her cape to become a private investigator. Jessica Jones will lead the way for Luke Cage, starring Mark Colter as the titular hero with invincible skin and an irrepressible attitude, which will then lead the way for a fourth series called Iron Fist, centering on the yet-to-be-cast Danny Rand, a martial artist fueled by a mystical force. All four of these shows will eventually converge in the form of The Defenders, a team-up event modeled after The Avengers. With Daredevil, then, we’re standing on the precipice of a big Marvel moment, bigger than any one 13-episode show. You can get on board now, or choose to be blind to one of the most ambitious television projects in recent memory. Your call.
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