Marvel Studios used the 2014 New York Comic-Con as the event to premiere the first look at its upcoming Netflix series Daredevil, the first of four developing Marvel Netflix shows about the superheroes of Hell's Kitchen. The Daredevil footage, which the Screen Rant Underground Podcast crew broke down and analyzed last week, very much supported the longstanding claim that this series will be something of a departure from past Marvel Studios films and TV series.
Daredevil will introduce the "Street Level Noir Side" of Marvel Studios' Cinematic Universe, as it's been described by Marvel Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada. Charlie Cox is starring as (blind) lawyer by day, masked vigilante by night, Matt Murdock, and he talked about the Daredevil series while attending the New York premiere for the upcoming Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory of Everything (which the Boardwalk Empire alum costars in).
Cox talked to news outlets (including THR) about his experience working on Daredevil, saying it's been "great fun" while admitting that he "wasn't really aware of how vast the comic book world was" until he signed on to play a character in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. He also mentioned his time at the 2014 NYCC and how it drove home for him just how passionate fans are towards the Daredevil property - which means it's a good thing that he's been doing his homework, for the series.
"I've read comics after comics after comics — I've never read so many comics in my life, and we're finding moments from the comics to reference in the show. We're trying to make a show that's new and much, much darker than anything I've ever seen Marvel do before."
"Much darker" than past Marvel Studio fare was also the impression that the NYCC Daredevil footage left on the members of our staff who saw it. Netflix, much like cable television, is known for providing more freedom for storytellers to incorporate adult content into their work (see: House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, etc.) - and while Daredevil doesn't look to go further than a "hard PG-13" feel (judging by the 'Con footage), early word is that it appears to be very true to the hard-hitting spirit of Frank Miller's landmark Daredevil comic book work ("The Man Without Fear", "Born Again").
Daredevil showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (creator of Starz' Spartacus) has also indicated before that this series' version of Matt Murdock will be a much more "morally grey" superhero than the do-gooders featured in previous Marvel Studios' projects. Cox made a similar comment at the Theory of Everything premiere, after he was asked what makes Murdock a "darker" costumed hero than his peers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
"The concept that he can't stop. He's going out and he's taking the law into his own hands, and he doesn't know if he can stop."
At the 2014 NYCC panel for Daredevil, Cox's costar Vincent D'Onofrio - who is playing the antagonist Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. Kingpin) on the series - indicated that Murdock's actions on the series are sometimes so questionable, viewers might find themselves inclined to side with Kingpin rather than The Man Without Fear. Cox likewise said that Murdock "might be addicted" to being a crime-fighter - and thus, his quest for 'justice' puts him at risk of doing more harm than good, at times.
This is encouraging news for us, as far as our expectations for Daredevil go. We've talked many a time before about how Marvel Studios' success in 2014 can, to no small degree, be attributed to its willingness to branch out into different genres with its comic book films - be it political intrigue with Captain America: The Winter Soldier or goofy cosmic adventure with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Now, however, with Daredevil Marvel is starting to branch more not just in terms of tone, but also narrative design - using the Netflix series format to explore the origins (and evolution) of a superhero in a different manner than a film allows for. And assuming that viewers respond well to the change of pace, then there will be plenty more of that to follow.
Daredevil premieres on Netflix in May 2015.