Marvel’s Daredevil is ‘The Man Without Fear’, and with their new Netflix Exclusive television series based on the blind superhero, it’s probably safe to say that Marvel isn’t scared of much either! At New York Comic Con 2014, Marvel held a panel featuring the show’s producers, writers, and stars, to discuss the new series and showcase a few clips for fans eager to get a first glimpse at what they can expect to see when the series hits Netflix video-streaming service next year. ‘Daredevil’ is set to be the first of five original live action series from set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the others being ‘Jessica Jones,’ ‘Luke Cage,’ ‘Iron Fist,’ and finally a team-up series that will see the heroes of all of these shows working together, ‘The Defenders’.
The ‘Daredevil’ panel was hosted by none other than the head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb. Loeb is no stranger to the Daredevil character, as he himself wrote the acclaimed ‘Daredevil: Yellow’ storyline that retold the blind hero’s origins back in 2001. Loeb wasted little time introducing Series Producer Steven S. DeKnight, as well as the cast of the new series to the stage. Those present included Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock‘s best friend and partner at his law firm; Toby Leonard Moore as Wesley, the Kingpin’s right-hand-man; Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich; Bob Gunton as crime boss Leland Owlsely; Ayelet Zurer as Vanessa Fisk, the Kingpin’s wife; Deborah Ann Woll as Matt Murdock’s secretary and eventual love-interest Karen Page; Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin of crime; and of course, last but far from least, the series star Charlie Cox as blind lawyer Matt Murdock, better known as the titular hero Daredevil.
Before showing several short clips of footage from the series, Loeb talked a bit about the overall feel and tone of the show so fans would know what to expect from it. Series producer Steven S. DeKnight describes the show as having “a very gritty and realistic tone to it,” very much akin to the books that inspired it like the infamous series runs by Frank Miller in the 80s, as well as Bendis and Maleev in the early 2000’s.
Suddenly, the room goes pitch black, announcements are made to turn off any electronics, and two large projector screens light up to give those lucky enough to be in the audience our first look at Marvel Television’s take on ‘Daredevil.’ The first clip seen shows Karen Page coming home out of the rain to a dark apartment, clearly flustered and panicked. She rushes through the darkness to climb on a stool and make sure something she had stashed away in a vent was still there; not noticing the large wet spots in the carpet by the slightly open window. As she finds what she was looking for and sighs in relief, a dark figure emerges from the darkness and attacks her, slamming her head into a wall to take what she had came for. He pulls a knife and starts walking towards the already injured Karen, who is laying on the ground after having had her head slammed into a wall. That’s when there’s a shout from across the room and we see a man in a dark sweatsuit and a bandana covering the top half of his face and hair charging out of the darkness at the man. This is our first look at Daredevil, as he dives into the room to rescue Karen from her attacker. After a few quick hits, both Daredevil and Karen’s attacker crash right through a window, into the pouring rain and onto construction platforms below. The scene ends, the lights fade back on, and the crowd goes INSANE.
Loeb looks pleased with the crowd reaction. The fans already love how much Daredevil looks like his comic book counterpart from the classic Frank miller miniseries ‘Man Without Fear’. In what seems like no time at all, Loeb brings up actress Rosario Dawson, and mentions that while she unfortunately was not present for this panel, that she is also set to be a key member of the series cast. While fans have been speculating what role she would be playing for the last few months, Loeb seemed to take pride in announced Dawson would be playing Claire Temple, who many Marvel Comics fans will known as ‘The Night Nurse.’ The lights die down again as we are shown a second scene, this time between an injured Matt Murdock and Claire Temple. This scene is more about character building and establishes the kind of relationship we can expect between Daredevil and The Night Nurse, a mildly quippy one. But one that establishes the way these two will interact going forward.
After a few moments of dialogue, the scene lets up and the cast starts discussing their roles on the show and how they feel about their characters and what they bring to them. When discussing taking on the role of reporter Ben Urich, who has traditionally been portrayed as a Caucasian character, Vondie Curtis-Hall mentioned that he picked up a bunch of old comics and started reading up on the character. “I took a look at the character and said ‘Hey wait a second!’” pausing for just a moment, “I don’t wear glasses!” Curtis-Hall joked. It’s worth noting that with a character like Ben Urich, race should hardly be an issue, and Curtis-Hall is a perfect fit for the role. One other thing that might prove interesting, is that Urich works for the same newspaper as Jessica Jones in the Marvel Comics Universe, so we might even see Curtis-Hall pop up as a regular on that upcoming series as well to tie things together even more tightly.
Just before the audience is shown another clip, this time a scene introducing us to Vanessa and Wilson Fisk as they speak in an art gallery, actor Vincent D’Onofrio chimed in with his feelings on the role his character of ‘The Kingpin’ will play on the show. “Our Fisk… he is a child, and he is a monster. Every move he makes in our story comes from his morality he has established for himself” said D’Onofrio. DeKnight and Loeb both give their takes on the character, discussing how this show exists in a sort of ‘grey area’ for heroes and villains. “In some episodes you’ll be rooting for Matt, but in others you’ll find it hard not to root for Wilson” said Loeb. “Daredevil himself will constantly be walking very close to the edge of crossing the line and going ‘too far’ with things. He’s upholding the law during the day in court as a lawyer, then breaking it every night by trying to uphold justice as the vigilante Daredevil!”.
We’re shown a clip of Matthew, Karen, and Foggy sitting around a dinner table talking. It seems that the firm of Nelson &Murdock has taken on Karen’s case for free and won in court! Karen is so grateful that she’s looking to pay them back as best she can; by working for them for free in their new law office to pay off her newfound debt to the pair. The chemistry between the three of them is palpable, and looks to be setting a great tone for the civilian scenes we’ll be seeing. Cox is a natural fit for the Matt Murdock role, playing him a bit serious, but charming. Henson’s Foggy is a bit stiff at first, but that could also just be the way he is written for now. It’s going to be interesting to see how these two are written as the show proceeds. Deborah Ann Woll is the perfect Karen Page. Fans of the comic couldn’t possibly hope for more from anyone in this role than Woll is putting into it.
Finally, we are shown one last scene, which, oddly enough, is actually the first scene we were shown, but extended. The entire scene plays out before us again, but this time when Daredevil and Karen’s attacker go through the window, Matthew flashes back to his childhood. He’s already blind at this point in his timeline, yet trying to study a book that he is reading in Braille. His father, boxer Jack Murdock, walks in clearly beaten up. He tells Matt to keep studying “so you don’t end up like me.” There is a mildly emotional moment as Jack places the blind Matthew’s hands on a large welt on his cheek, which is swollen and cut from where he had been hit recently. Flash forward to modern times again, Daredevil is laying on the ground in the pouring rain while Karen’s attacker gets up and starts moving towards him. Murdock rises to his feet to meet the attacker, which results in one hell of a fight scene that cannot possibly be conveyed by written word. You’d have to see it to believe it, and when you do, you’ll understand just how much power Daredevil really has hiding behind those punches. The fighting style Daredevil uses is acrobatic and feels very much like a rehearsed dance that he’s done before. It’s all very natural seeming, and the attacker doesn’t stand a chance. The scene ends as Daredevil defeats Karen’s assailant,
The panel ends here, with a roar of applause and praise from the audience as the cast and crew bask proudly in the well deserved positive reaction they are receiving. While it’s still a few months away from premiering, it looks like Marvel Television and Netflix are going to have a hit on their hands with “Daredevil’. Star Charlie Cox described it best, “with all of this new streaming technology, there are no real cliffhangers anymore. It’s just ‘click’ next episode! So really, it’s less like making a TV show and much more like we’re making an amazing thirteen hour movie!’.
You can check out the panel below courtesy of Marvel:
‘Daredevil’ is set to premiere sometime in 2015 exclusively on Netflix.