While Marvel Studios’ movies tend to have a more lighthearted tone, Marvel and Netflix’s first season of Daredevil – which also exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – took a darker approach, as it showed viewers the kind of crime Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) had to face in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. The show certainly had comedy sprinkled throughout season 1, but overall, it was much grittier than most of the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And with that darker tone came some moments of very graphic violence.
Marvel’s blockbusters offer enormous displays of spectacle – often requiring a noticeable amount of visual effects – Daredevil’s focus on a street-level story, however, meant there wasn’t as much “popcorn entertainment.” The emphasis was placed on character, a crime-driven drama, and some visceral hand-to-hand fights. When it comes to revealing the origin of Daredevil and the Kingpin, there just isn’t any need for Hulk leaping around, an army of robots, or a trip to Asgard. (Not that we’d complain if Hulk made a cameo, of course.) Despite that, there was still plenty of VFX scattered throughout the story – in fact, the show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects. While some of the more graphic moments clearly rely on VFX, some of its other uses will probably surprise you.
ComicBook.com shared a video (which can be viewed above) from the visual effects company Shade VFX, explaining how the visual effects were incorporated throughout season 1. CEO and Executive VFX Supervisor Bryan Godwin and VP Senior Executive Producer David Van Dyke talk about how their goal was to create VFX that supported Daredevil’s story – meaning effects that, when done properly, would appear to be practical to most, and not a digital addition to the scene. The video displays how fire, explosions, and wounds from bullets and knives were often CGI, and done in a way that allowed them to blend in with the world, as opposed to blatantly standing out. However, the big reveal in the video is that Nobu’s deadly weapon, a shoge hook, was VFX as he battled the Man Without Fear in episode 9, ‘Speak of the Devil’.
It’s no shocker that something like a villain having his face impaled by a sharp object or someone being shot in the head is VFX, but to some fans, Nobu’s melee weapon being digital may be quite a surprise. That, along with several other instances of VFX which enhance a particular moment – without overwhelming it – make it easy to understand why the special effects in Daredevil‘s first season have earned the show an Emmy nomination. The show’s competition in the category is American Horror Story: Freak Show, Boardwalk Empire, Gotham, and The Walking Dead.
Seeing as Frank Castle/Punisher (Jon Bernthal) – a violent vigilante who kills criminals – and Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) – a lethal assassin who’s especially skilled with two sai – are joining season 2, the odds are very good that Shade VFX will have plenty of new opportunities to create some digital bloodshed in Daredevil. Whether it’s stabbing, slashing, or shooting, it’s likely these two skilled Marvel anti-heroes will have a chance to cut loose – Season 2 has been described as Daredevil vs. Punisher, after all. Then again, according to /Film, Daredevil‘s former showrunner Steven DeKnight says that, despite the addition of Punisher, the second season probably won’t up the gore:
“We wanted to keep it right around PG-16 and not go all the way to the R. I have no idea if they’re planning to push it that far next season but I would be surprised.”
Season 1 of Daredevil is currently streaming on Netflix; Jessica Jones premieres in Fall 2015; Luke Cage and Season 2 of Daredevil in 2016. Season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins Tuesday, September 29 at 9:00 PM ET on ABC; Season 2 of Agent Carter starts in early 2016.