Daredevil's Vincent D'Onofrio: Kingpin Rights Are "Caught in Between" Marvel and Sony

"It takes a long time for them to figure out who is doing what," the Daredevil: Born Again star says.

Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin won't be tangling with Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. During a San Diego Comic-Con panel in 2022, Marvel Studios announced that Charlie Cox — who played the title role in Marvel's Daredevil before making cameos in Spider-Man: No Way Home and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law — would voice the Man Without Fear in the upcoming Marvel Animation series (at the time titled Spider-Man: Freshman Year). The MCU-based animated series, which is due out later this year on Disney+, will pit a freshman-aged Peter Parker against such classic foes as Scorpion, Chameleon, and Doctor Octopus — but not, it seems, Wilson Fisk.

"I'm going to transparently say this: You know the whole Marvel-Sony thing, right?" D'Onofrio said on stage at Fan Expo Boston 2024 when asked if he might voice Kingpin in the Marvel Studios animated series. "So there are characters — Marvel characters invented by Marvel, written by Marvel — that are caught in between Marvel and Sony. And so it takes a long time for them to figure out who is doing what."

D'Onofrio, who has reprised his Daredevil role in the Marvel Studios series Hawkeye and spinoff Echo, added: "I just never really know where [Kingpin can show up]. My character is in that kind of situation, unlike Charlie's. So I don't know, it's part of the deal when it comes to playing Kingpin." 

So, who owns the Kingpin rights? The answer could lie in his history as a shared villain of Spider-Man and Daredevil. Though the character has been a recurring member of Spider-Man's rogues' gallery since debuting in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #50 in 1967, Kingpin has been Daredevil's arch-nemesis ever since Frank Miller's definitive run as writer and penciller on that title in the 1980s.

Kingpin was a series regular on Marvel Films Animation's Spider-Man: The Animated Series that aired on the Fox Kids Network in the 1990s, and the crime lord was the big bad of the Fox-made Daredevil movie (played by Michael Clarke Duncan) in 2003. That same year, Duncan returned to voice Kingpin in an episode of Sony Pictures Television's CG-animated Spider-Man: The New Animated Series on MTV. That would be the last time Kingpin appeared on an animated television show. 

The character was conspicuously absent from The Spectacular Spider-Man (produced by Sony), which was cancelled after two seasons when Disney acquired Marvel – and the Spider-Man TV rights — in 2009. Neither of the two Spider-Man animated series produced by Disney (2012's Ultimate Spider-Man and 2017's Spider-Man) included Kingpin, who eventually joined the MCU (played by D'Onofrio) in Marvel TV's Daredevil in 2015. A Liev Schreiber-voiced Kingpin was the villain of 2018's animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, produced and released by Sony.

Marvel has licensed the Spider-Man movie rights — and, reportedly, the rights to over 900 Spider-Man-related characters — to Sony Pictures since 1999. However, it seems that Kingpin is one of a few co-owned characters not exclusive to any universe. Before Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019, both companies shared the rights to use Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in the Avengers (Marvel) or X-Men (Fox) movies because the characters co-existed as key members of both Marvel's Avengers and X-Men comic books.

As for Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, its canonical status is best described as "MCU-adjacent." Although originally touted as a prequel set before the events of Captain America: Civil War and Sony and Marvel's trilogy of MCU Spider-Man movies starring Tom Holland, the new series is simply inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe with some key differences: instead of Tony Stark's Iron Man, it's Norman Osborn who mentors the rookie superhero

"Because of things that happen in the multiverse — because of new, random occurrences — it's not Tony Stark who's waiting for him there [in Aunt May's apartment]. It's Norman Osborn, and that sends his life in an unexpected trajectory that collides him with many unexpected characters in the Marvel universe," Brad Winderbaum, the head of streaming, television, and animation for Marvel Studios, exclusively told ComicBook in 2022.

Along with Peter Parker (voiced by What If...?'s Hudson Thames), the YFNSM cast includes Kari Wahlgren as Aunt May, Grace Song as Nico Minoru, Zeno Robinson as Harry Osborn, Eugene Byrd as Lonnie Lincoln, Hugh Dancy as Otto Octavius, and Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil. Other cast members are yet to be announced, but the series is set to include Doctor Strange and Spider-villains Rhino, Speed Demon, and the Tarantula.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is expected to premiere this fall on Disney+, and D'Onofrio and Cox will be reunited in the MCU proper in Daredevil: Born Again in 2025.