A new poster promoting Marvel’s Daredevil, which will stream on Netflix, revealed an April 10 premiere date for the series. That means in less than three months, viewers will get a sense of how Marvel Studios reimagined Daredevil and whether or not this new cinematic franchise will be able to shake the stink off the oft-criticized 2003 film from 20th Century Fox.
Many fans are hopeful that this new iteration of ‘Ol Hornhead will be a vast improvement from what came before it. But some of us here at ComicBook.com also have a few ideas of what we might want to see from Daredevil on Netflix that might ensure that the series is not only better than its big screen predecessor, but also a worthwhile piece of television drama that effectively connects to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1. Don’t Linger in the Shadows the Whole Time
Part of what made Frank Miller’s celebrated run on Daredevil in the 1970s/early 80s such a phenomenon was how he keyed in on the Daredevil character’s grim and gritty roots. Miller put the “hell” in Hell’s Kitchen and took this street level hero to some dark and uncomfortable places thanks to some crime noir-inspired sensibilities. In fact, someone picking up any of the first three Frank Miller/Daredevil trades will probably need a shoe shine from all of the grime they picked up while reading this extraordinary piece of sequential art.
Miller’s work is clearly serving as at least one source of inspiration, with some of the promotional images that have been released by the studio depicting Matt Murdock in his black, ninja-esque training garb (as featured in Miller’s origin retelling, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear). There’s also been some talk about how “dark” this series is expected to be, undoubtedly a nod to the Miller run when Daredevil was at its absolute darkest.
But Miller is obviously not the only creator to have a successful run on Daredevil, and it would be great to see this Netflix series mine thematic and aesthetic elements from some other writers and artists, especially Mark Waid’s recent work on the book. As dark and dire as Miller’s run on Daredevil was, Waid has injected the book with some vibrancy and brightness. In the very first issue of Waid/Paola Rivera’s 2011 reboot, Daredevil crashes a mob wedding and then cheekily snatches a kiss from the bride. It was quite the swashbuckling reintroduction to the character, while also emphasizing how much fun Daredevil can be when it’s not steeped in melodrama. That’s not a knock on Miller, or the countless other creators who have followed in his footsteps, but rather just an endorsement of a balanced approach with the character.
2. A Full Cast of Rogues
Daredevil doesn’t quite have the rogue’s gallery of Spider-Man or Batman, but he does have some quirky fun and/or completely insane villains whose inclusion would help fill this series with some variety. Thus far, the only two villains confirmed by the cast list are, naturally, Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Leland Owsley (Bob Gunton). But lest we forget the likes of Purple Man, Stilt Man, Typhoid Mary and of course, the murderous Bullseye, who was a thorn in Daredevil’s side long before he started murdering the loves of his life (not to mention, Elektra and Echo, who both started out as adversaries for Daredevil).
As his name indicates, Kingpin is clearly the big fish of the rogues gallery – plus Marvel is not bringing in an actor like Vincent D’Onofrio to sit on the sidelines. But hopefully, we get some of these other bad guys on the small screen, or at least teased in some fasion via Easter Eggs and name drops.
3. The People’s Court
You know what’s almost as popular as police procedural shows? Courtroom dramas. These shows are easy to consume in mass quantities (hence the never-ending supply of cable marathons), and often feature done-in-one storylines where the case du jour is presented, argued and solved/ruled on in the span of 60 minutes (unless it’s a two-parter). It’s candy-coated television for sure, but it’s also a successful formula. That’s why there are so many of them.
We obviously want Marvel to tell some bigger, longer-term stories with its Daredevil Netflix series. But it would also be really cool to see the studio have some fun with the fact that under the mask, Matt Murdock is a criminal defense attorney. Murdock’s law background is an essential part of the comics as it adds a bit of drama and complexity to the character – especially when he has to defend some of the thugs that he’s putting behind bars as Daredevil. Obviously, nobody expects Daredevil on Netflix to just be a stream of court cases, but it would be a huge missed opportunity if we didn’t get ample doses of actor Charlie Cox working a courtroom, grilling witnesses and schmoozing a jury. Then, when he leaves the courtroom, he slips on his mask and red tights and cracks some skulls with a billyclub.
4. It’s All Connected
We already know that all of Marvel’s Netflix series are going to culminate with the ultimate street-level team-up, The Defenders, connecting Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist much in the way Marvel Studios previously connected Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk in The Avengers. But what we also realized over the past year was that Marvel wasn’t going to back down about connecting all of its various cinematic universes together. This was best evidenced when a major plot point from Captain America: The Winter Soldier carried over into television’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
There’s a lot of opportunity to cross over Daredevil's plot points to almost any of Marvel’s Phase Three projects on the horizon; i.e. The character has frequently teamed-up with the Avengers for storylines and also dated Black Widow – a romance that was so significant, she co-headlined ‘Ol Hornhead’s book for a number of issues.
Then there’s Daredevil’s connections to characters who have not yet been officially introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but who are anticipated to be a part of this growing world in the near future – namely Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. Some fans are already speculating that Castle will show up in Daredevil on Netflix, but there’s been no confirmation just yet. However, it’s worth noting how Daredevil scribe Frank Miller is often credited with reimagining Punisher into the anti-hero we know and (sorta) love today.
5. Human Drama Throughout
For more than 50 years, the Daredevil comic series has had one of the richest and most complex supporting casts in the Marvel’s illustrious library. For a “big three,” there’s Matt’s best friend and law partner Foggy Nelson, ace Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich, and his first (as shown in the comics) love, Karen Page. And that’s just scratching the surface in terms of supporting cast.
Foggy, Urich and Karen are all expected to play a major role in the series (especially Foggy and Karen), but hopefully the Netflix series gives all of these characters ample time to shine and they’re not just viewed as accessories to whatever Matt/Daredevil is doing in an episode. Some of the greatest Daredevil storylines of all-time have featured these characters prominently. In fact, it’s hard to think about these stories without immediately picturing some iconic moments involving Daredevil’s supporting cast: Foggy finding out he has cancer during Mark Waid’s current run; Urich watching his informant get skewered by one of Elektra’s sais during Frank Miller’s run; or Matt nursing a drug-addled Karen back to health in "Born Again." If Marvel plans to create a varied cast of characters that many viewers can relate or connect to, they have to include similar moments of human drama with the supporting cast.