It’s only been a few years since Marvel and Netflix announced their historic deal to bring a number of the comic company’s street-level heroes to life in the MCU. Since then, we’ve been treated to two seasons of Daredevil, and one each from Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. This summer, the core heroes and their supporting characters will all join forces for The Defenders, marking an effort nearly as impressive as when Marvel first brought The Avengers to the big screen.
While the plot and threat they’ll face are unknown, it’s likely to involve a culmination of each of the series so far. It’ll also be a fun and exciting way to finally see all of these heavy-hitters join forces like they regularly do in the comics. And while we’re sure to get a few new characters from the comics on The Defenders, the five seasons of shows so far have already introduced us to MCU versions of a lot of familiar faces. But how accurate are they to the source material? Here’s how How 20 of Marvel’s Netflix Characters Compare To The Comics.
Nuke is one of the more colorful characters from Marvel Comics, literally. Recognizable from his facial tattoo of an American flag and known for extreme acts of terrorism in the name of nationalism, Nuke hardly seems like a candidate for the more grounded Netflix universe. Still, he was used to surprisingly fitting effect in Jessica Jones as an overeager cop with a dark past. On the show, it’s eventually revealed he was part of an experimental military outfit that equipped him with strength-inducing pills. This, at least partly, ties into his comic history, where his powers are even crazier.
On the page, he first appeared in 1986’s Daredevil #232. Created by Frank Miller, Frank Simpson (changed to Will for Netflix) once fought in the Vietnam War. Eventually, he became a part of the fledgling Weapon Plus program, which tried to recreate the Super Soldier Serum. He was given cybernetic enhancements, a durable fake skin, and red, white, and blue pills to raise his adrenaline, balance him out, and bring him down respectively. In the MCU, much of this will likely be streamlined whenever the character returns, but we could see him and Jessica given a connection to the Super Soldier Program.
19 Colleen Wing
The Colleen Wing we got to know in the recent release of Iron Fist was fairly close to her comic book persona. While we don’t know much about her past so far, her history as a gifted and katana-wielding martial artist has remained intact. There’s also hints of her famous father, another connection to the comics. The show even managed a version of her famous white jumpsuit, complete with accompanying wings on the back.
Another nod to her comic persona is the name "Daughter of the Dragon", which she uses in her cage match. In the comics, she and Misty Knight are often paired together as a team of crime-fighters called the Daughters of the Dragon. Many fans are hoping to see this become a reality following the two characters meeting in this summer’s The Defenders.
With lore that goes back all the way to her debut in 1974’s Marvel Premiere #19, there’s a lot left to explore when it comes to this fan-favorite character.
18 Ben Urich
One of the most disappointing things about the first season of Daredevil was the dispatching of Ben Urich. Aside from the show losing one of its only black characters, Urich has a long and rich history in Marvel Comics that would have proven the perfect foundation for the reporter to tie together the entire MCU. Dating back to 1978’s Daredevil #153, Urich has been involved with Daredevil. In fact, thanks to his skills as an ace reporter, Urich was able to figure out Daredevil’s secret identity.
His many connections to the heroes of New York have given him access and knowledge no other reporter has been privy to, allowing him to topple criminal empires with his stories. In the comics, he even helped take down Kingpin. Sadly, his efforts to do the same on Daredevil left him dead, preventing this venerable Marvel character from interacting with his other longtime collaborator, Spider-Man.
17 Madame Gao
When the mysterious and feared Madame Gao first popped up on season one of Daredevil, fans immediately began speculating who she could be in the comics. While Madame Gao isn’t a character from the page, she’s grown far too important in the Netflix universe to not be someone of consequence. Over the course of Daredevil’s second season and the recent Iron Fist, we’ve learned that Gao has some powers of her own, a vast well of knowledge, and a deep connection to the Hand and their nefarious dealings. As such, it’s been theorized that she’s likely the Crane Mother, a core character from Iron Fist’s comic lore.
Created by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction during their stellar Immortal Iron Fist run, the Crane Mother is the ruler of K’un-Zi, one of the Cities of Heaven and a sibling to Iron Fist’s home of K’un-Lun. Her vendetta against the Fist, rivalry with K’un-Lun, and strange powers all point towards Gao being the Crane Mother. Given what looks to be a mystical threat in The Defenders, and the tag for Iron Fist, we’ll likely see Gao again soon and may finally get the reveal that she’s the MCU’s Crane Mother.
16 Cottonmouth and Black Mariah
On Luke Cage, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes and “Black” Mariah Dillard are cousins who grew up together under the tutelage of their grandmother Mama Mabel. In the comics, however, their only real connection is as enemies of Luke Cage.
Mariah is altered quite a bit from the page, where she’s a drug pusher and small time criminal. First appearing in 1973’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #5, she’s remained a somewhat obscure character. She did recently pop back up in the new Power Man and Iron Fist comic, though she’s still just a crook and has none of the social or political leanings of her MCU counterpart.
Cottonmouth, meanwhile, arrived a year after Mariah in the pages of Power Man #19. Like Mariah, he’s very different in the comics. He’s still a criminal, but mostly a drug dealer. In fact, it’s Cottonmouth’s heroin that William Stryker steals to frame Carl Lucas, starting him on the path to become Luke Cage. Unlike in the MCU, the Cottonmouth of the comics has super-strength and fangs that can puncture Luke’s skin. While this would have been awfully silly on screen, him having some super powers would have been a nice way to increase his threat on the show, and maybe allow Mahershala Ali to stick around and continue his amazing performance.
Stick may be the most accurate adaptation Marvel has done. Created by Frank Miller for his character-defining run of Daredevil in 1981, Stick is a blind sensei who's fond of a bō staff and has trained a number of Marvel heroes. He’s best known, of course, for finding Matt Murdock as a young man and training him after the death of his father. Like on the show, he’s fairly gruff and no-nonsense, much to the chagrin of his students. He’s also one of the most capable warriors in the Marvel Universe, having trained everyone from Wolverine to Elektra.
While his fatherly relationship with Elektra was beefed up a bit, he did train her as a member of his group, the Chaste, before forcing her out due to her bloodlust. While small moments and character beats have been changed a bit, Stick on Daredevil is the spitting image of Miller’s creation. The only major changes from the comics are that he hasn't died and been reincarnated or possessed telepathic powers. There’s still time for those changes to be made, however.
Marvel made a number of tweaks to Zebediah Killgrave when they translated him to screen. For one, they made his name Kevin Thompson, with Kilgrave (yes, minus one ‘l’) an assumed name. In the comics, his nom de guerre is the Purple Man, thanks to his violet-hued skin. That also disappeared, though there was plenty of purple lighting all throughout Jessica Jones to reference his comic book visage. His background is also severely changed, with his powers and his personality as the result of experimentation done on him as a child.
In the comics, he’s a Croatian doctor who becomes a spy. One mission ends with him doused in a chemical which alters his hair and skin color, much like the Joker. The process also imbues him with his signature ability to persuade anyone to do anything, just by hearing his voice.
Introduced all the way back in 1964 during Daredevil #4, Purple Man has long been a problem for Defenders and Avengers alike. His most monumental arc, however, comes as part of Jessica Jones’ origin story. Reworked during Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias, the Purple Man becomes a longtime tormentor of Jessica and the reason for her trauma and demeanor. Marvel wisely carried over these core bits of Killgrave for their adaptation, all played masterfully by David Tennant.
There are actually a lot of villains in Marvel Comics called Diamondback. Thanks to the evil Serpent Society, just about every type of snake is an alias for some low-level supervillain. The very first person to ever carry the name, however, was Willis Stryker. As noted earlier, he’s the man who frames Carl Lucas for drug dealing, setting off the chain of events that will make him into a superhero.
Though not brothers in the comics, Willis and Carl were childhood best friends. Growing up on the streets of Harlem together, the two ran in a gang with Shades at one point. Eventually, Carl turns to the side of good, but it’s not until Carl gets together with Reva Connors that things turn sour. Willis was also in love with Reva, which causes him to frame Carl.
Just like on the show, Willis is also dispatched fairly quickly. He debuted in 1972’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1, only to die the very next issue.
12 Foggy and Karen
Foggy Nelson and Karen Page have quite a long history together in the comics. Both debuting in 1964’s Daredevil #1, they’ve served as Matt Murdock’s oldest friend and love interest respectively. Just like on the screen, Foggy is Matt’s law partner, while Karen is the secretary for the firm. While Karen started as a straightforward love interest, Matt eventually revealed his secret identity to her and things all went downhill. She soon got mixed up with heroin, even selling Matt’s secret identity for more drugs. We haven’t seen the fallout of Matt telling Karen his secret yet, but some version of this could appear on Daredevil. We’ll hopefully learn more about that when Karen shows up on The Punisher.
Foggy, meanwhile, has also suffered for knowing Matt’s identity. Though originally comic relief, his arcs have grown dark in recent years, as he is vehemently opposed to Matt’s double life. This was mirrored in Daredevil, as Foggy is clearly not happy with the knowledge of how Matt spends his evenings. More recently, comics Foggy was diagnosed with cancer, an arc we could see getting adapted at some point in the future. Matt also found a way to make the world forget his secret identity (long story), but chose Foggy to be the one person who remembered it. As such, Foggy is doomed to be saddled with the burden of Matt’s secret identity, whether he likes it or not.
11 Misty Knight
Two years after Colleen Wing was introduced, Mercedes “Misty” Knight debuted in 1975’s Marvel Premiere #21. While she’s portrayed fairly differently in the MCU compared to the comics, much of that is likely due to her early days being explored on Luke Cage. While the comics don’t get into it much, Misty started out on the NYPD, partnered with Rafael Scarfe. Eventually, an explosion she was trying to stop led to her right arm being amputated. While this was alluded to on Luke Cage, it’s likely something we’ll have to wait a little longer to see.
In the comics, Tony Stark eventually gives her a replacement arm. The first one is made of steel, but eventually she gets a cybernetic limb composed of diamond and the Antarctic version of Vibranium. Not only is it super durable and strong, but it’s equipped with all sorts of weapons, like repulsors and ice blasts. While we can’t imagine such an impressive piece of tech showing up on Netflix, it’s only a matter of time before Misty gets a more grounded version of her cybernetic arm. Maybe she can trade notes with Coulson.
10 The Hand
Dating back to the 1500s in the Marvel universe, the Hand were created by Frank Miller in 1981 during his Daredevil run. As is likely clear, Miller’s time on the book influenced much of the MCU’s version of Daredevil and his pantheon, which it’s also done in the comics. Like on Daredevil and Iron Fist, the Hand of the comics are a group of ninjas who more than dabble in the mystical arts. Long ago co-opted by a demon, the group follows the will of the Beast, a powerful entity.
The Beast hasn’t shown up yet on Netflix, but a number of other comic elements from the group have. For one, Stick is one of their main enemies, as are his group, the Chaste. They also frequently come to blows with Daredevil, who even led them at one point. Elektra, too, has long been associated with the group. But while Iron Fist has fought them many times, the bit where he’s trained to be their sworn enemy is a little tweak on Marvel’s part to streamline the shows.
9 Trish Walker
Patricia “Patsy” Walker (known as Trish on Jessica Jones) is a fascinating character. When she first debuted in 1944’s Miss America Magazine, she was the star of a teen romance comic. Published by Timely Comics, the company would eventually become Marvel and Patsy would cameo in 1965’s Fantastic Four Annual #3, establishing her presence in the new comics continuity. In this updated take on the character, her romance stories were in-universe books written about her life by her mother. That could have been the end, but a decade later Steve Englehart had an idea: what if Patsy Walker became a superhero?
1972’s Amazing Adventures #13 introduced readers to Hellcat, the alter-ego of Patsy. A skilled acrobat with retractable claws, Hellcat also eventually gains mystical senses. She can even summon her costume out of thin air. A lot of that will likely never show up in the MCU, but Trish’s journey to Hellcat has already begun.
On Jessica Jones, the modern Patsy goes by Trish to differentiate her radio talk show career from her past as a child star. She’s also seen training to be a fighter and proves how capable she is when she takes on Nuke. While she’s not Hellcat yet, Marvel is clearly interested in her making the transition soon.
In the MCU, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk isn’t quite the Kingpin of Crime yet, but he’s on his way. When he first appeared, he was meek and lacking confidence, though prone to bursts of violence. He’s also shown to be shrewd, cunning, and a capable fighter. Following his confrontation with Daredevil and his subsequent arrest, we see that he’s finally started on the path to becoming more like his comic book counterpart.
A longtime Spider-Man villain who’s scuffled with Daredevil on many occasions, Wilson Fisk was created by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. for 1967’s Amazing Spider-Man #50. While his ascension through the ranks of New York’s crime families hasn’t been laid out yet, it’s likely that’s how he started claiming power in the MCU. Luckily, the small details aren’t important.
The Kingpin of the MCU has the look from the comics and is well on his way to being the leading crime boss in the MCU. D’Onofrio also has the stature of an actor ready to make the jump to movies, mirroring the Kingpin’s threat in the comics.
7 Claire Temple
Though Ben Urich would have been the obvious connecting thread for all of the Marvel Netflix shows, Claire Temple has acquitted herself nicely thanks to the talents of Rosario Dawson. First showing up as a good samaritan in season one of Daredevil, Temple has proven to be a boon to each of the Defenders, thanks to her medical expertise and discretion. As such, many fans think of her as the Night Nurse, a character with a similar role in the comics. Oddly, Marvel continually claims this isn’t the case, but it’s semantics at this point.
Instead of being one of the many Night Nurses from the comics, Claire is based on a doctor who helped Luke Cage out, way back in the issue where Diamondback’s backstory was revealed. From there, she became a love interest for Luke, but has since fallen into obscurity over the years.
For the MCU, she provides a version of the Night Nurse in their street-level shows while still leaving the title up for grabs in the movies, proving just how little they're concerned with connecting the two. Luckily, it doesn't matter, as Dawson is such a joy to watch and has given the character more depth than the comics ever have.
6 The Punisher
While we’re sure to learn a lot more about Frank Castle’s history when The Punisher series debuts, his appearance in the MCU so far is pretty accurate to his comic lore. A former military man whose family is killed during a mob hit, Castle uses his anger and training to become a one-man army. As the Punisher, Castle doles out lethal justice to anyone he sees as a criminal. While this often means mob bosses and supervillains, Daredevil did a great job of showing how Castle regularly walks the line of a villain in his efforts to stop crime. Rather than let the justice system do its job, Punisher wipes out anyone he deems to be a threat, with little in way of a code and no oversight.
First appearing in 1974’s Amazing Spider-Man #129, Castle has a long history with the street-level heroes from Marvel Comics. As such, he fits nicely into the world of the Netflix shows, and is a great way to explore the line between hero and villain. After all, Castle’s approach to justice in the MCU is shockingly similar to Kingpin’s, with one viewed as a villain and the other as more heroic.
Elektra’s history has been altered a bit in the MCU, but the key points in her lore have remained. Like Stick and the Hand, she was born out of Miller’s Daredevil run. She’s often served as a love interest to Matt, though her ruthless nature and career as a mercenary puts them at odds with one another. She was also trained by Stick, who brought her into the fold of his group the Chaste.
In a tweak to her history, the TV series makes Elektra the unwitting messiah for the Hand on Daredevil, and she's last seen being turned into an undead weapon by them. In the comics, she actually chooses the path of the Hand over the Chaste, which is where she picks up her signature red outfit. Luckily, her ludicrous costume from the comics is one of the things changed for TV, but many of her story beats remain the same.
Only time will tell how her new arc with the Hand plays out, but we’ll probably learn soon as she’s slated to appear in The Defenders. With the group likely a key threat to the heroes on the show, we should see how Elektra plays into their plans and get a taste of her shifting anti-hero nature from the comics.
4 Iron Fist
Showing up in the comics just a few issues before Colleen Wing, Iron Fist was born in 1974’s Marvel Premiere #15. The next year, he ended up with his own series and has served as one of Marvel’s most prominent martial artists ever since. Though a few liberties are naturally taken with his adaptation, much of his history surprisingly remains intact. This is especially surprising because so much of his history is tied into mysticism, with his superpowers coming from fighting a dragon in an extradimensional city of warriors.
While we spend limited time in K’un-Lun on the show and don’t meet Shou-Lao, both are canon and brought up by Danny on the show. Though his connection to the Hand is altered, it provides a nice through-line for the various shows as the one other mystical element we’ve seen on the TV side of the MCU.
While Danny hasn’t suited up yet, we’ve seen a fully costumed Iron Fist, teasing the outfit’s existence and the fact that there are previous Iron Fists. All in all, Danny’s story remains about as faithful as you could hope, and there’s still plenty of room for more of it to be explored.
3 Luke Cage
Like Iron Fist, there are plenty of small things changed about Luke Cage, but all the key parts are there. While he’s raised in Georgia instead of Harlem, he does end up there as the neighborhood’s protector. He also has a romance with Claire, was married to Reva Connors, was childhood friends with Willis Stryker, and was framed by him and wound up in jail. There, he got his superpowers of incredible strength and unbreakable skin, and he uses them to help out regular people. He’s even begun a budding romance with Jessica Jones, something that was added decades later to his lore but has become on of the defining aspects of the character in the comics.
Assuming he and Jessica eventually get married and have a kid, the only big thing missing from his comic book history is a friendship with Danny Rand and a career as a Hero for Hire. Luckily, the former will likely develop on The Defenders, and the latter seems like the best way for both Luke and Danny’s shows to move forward. A Heroes for Hire show has been hinted at a lot, and by becoming a reality, Marvel would bring just about every major part of Luke from the comics over to the MCU.
Daredevil has a long history dating way back to the ‘60s, so there’s plenty of stuff we haven’t seen yet—and may never. Still, there’s lots of time for a number of big events from the comics to unfold, given his career as a superhero is brand new. If you look at Frank Miller’s defining run in the comics, however, Daredevil is pretty accurate to the comics on screen.
Like on the page, the MCU's Matt is the son of a boxer who raises him alone before getting killed by the mob, he has super-senses thanks to saving an old man from a chemical spill/car accident, and he was trained to be a ninja by Stick. As an adult, he’s a lawyer with Foggy Nelson, has had romances with Karen Page and Elektra, and regularly fights Kingpin and the Hand. He’s even got his requisite Irish Catholic guilt, something that’s long-defined him on the page.
Aside from not awkwardly having "DD" on his chest (despite ‘Daredevil’ being one word), the Matt Murdock on Netflix is quite similar to the one from the comics.
1 Jessica Jones
Out of all the characters who have crossed over from the comics to the Netflix universe, Jessica Jones has the least amount of history. Ironically, she also has a ton of things from her backstory that will never make their way into the MCU. Debuting in Alias from the Marvel MAX imprint back in 2001, Jessica is a private eye with a past as a superhero. She’s got super-strength and the ability to fly (which was on the show). While her relationship with Luke is only just beginning, the writers do bring over much of her history with Kil(l)grave.
What they don’t include is all of her time interacting with the Avengers. Though Jessica’s comic book costume is referenced on the show, it’s made clear that she never spent time flying around as a superhero—much less one named Jewel. In the comics, she’s also spent years rubbing elbows with the Avengers and acting under multiple superhero names. Of course, all of that was retconned by writer Brian Michael Bendis.
Still, the MCU streamlined much of her past. Her origin still looks to be the same, though, with another chemical spill/car accident giving her powers and killing her family. Instead of being friends with Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew, Trish Walker is her bestie, but to similar results. Marvel also kept her attitude, penchant for whiskey, and skills as a P.I. intact - arguably the key aspects of Jessica Jones.
Which Marvel character are you most excited to see in The Defenders? Let us know in the comments!
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