Now that Marvel has conquered the cineplex, the studio is looking to take over the small screen too. At New York Comic Con today, the studio offered an intriguing first look at its new Daredevil TV series, which is set to debut on Netflix next year with Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox as the blind lawyer/superhero. Here are the highlights:
1. Finding Daredevil was a snap. Two years ago, when 20th Century Fox still owned the cinematic rights to Daredevil, Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb says he received a call from Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada declaring that he had found the next Matt Murdock. The rights soon reverted to the studio, and Quesada’s first choice – Charlie Cox – indeed won the role.
2. Rosario Dawson may be the Night Nurse: The Comic Con panel, moderated by Loeb, featured the series’ entire main cast except for Rosario Dawson, whose previously undisclosed role was finally revealed. The Sin City star will play nurse Claire Temple, who will aid Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil and may also take on the guise of another Marvel heroine. Loeb described her as a “nurse who works at night,” indicating that she may inherit the mantle of Night Nurse. Temple’s involvement is a bit of a surprise since she’s traditionally associated with Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man, a character for whom Netflix is developing a separate series.
3. Vincent D’Onofrio is no ordinary villain: Even Marvel devotees have grumbled about the blandness of some of the films’ villains – with the notable exception of Thor’s Loki. But the studio may have found a well-rounded baddie in Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio). In a new clip from the series shown at Comic Con, Fisk meets his lady love, an art gallery owner named Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer, who played Superman’s mom in Man of Steel). Fisk’s imposing figure, dressed in a black suit, stands before a stark white painting. D’Onofrio brings a surprising vulnerability to the scene with few words, letting his physicality speak for him. Vanessa approaches and notes that the price of artwork is dictated by how it makes the buyer feel. The white painting? It makes Fisk feel alone.
4. Landing the rest of the cast proved a challenge: To win the role of Foggy Nelson, Murdock’s law partner and best friend, Eldon Henson had to send in a video recording of his audition via his smartphone from the set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (where he plays Pollux). Meanwhile, showrunner Steven S. DeKnight says that newcomer Toby Moore “popped out of the blue” as Wesley, Fisk’s right-hand man.
But a special prize for commitment goes to True Blood’s Deborah Ann Wohl, who plays Murdock’s love interest, Karen Page. The actress left the set of the HBO vampire series on a Tuesday at 4 a.m. and began shooting her first Daredevil scene that Thursday. (The show’s cast also includes Vondie Curtis-Hall as journalist Ben Urich and Bob Gunton as Leon Owlsly, a.k.a. the villainous Owl.)
4. Daredevil is the lead, but that doesn’t make him the hero: Several members of the panel spoke of the show’s moral ambiguity. Specifically in regard to Murdock and Fisk, DeKnight said there will be times when audiences won’t be “sure who to root for.” He added, “There are no heroes or villains. It’s just people making different choices.”
5. Murdock (and the show) have a dark side: Another clip depicted one of Murdock’s first fights as Daredevil. When someone breaks into Karen Page’s apartment to kill her, Murdock swoops in, dressed in an all-black jumpsuit and half-mask, and begins a brutal hand-to-hand fight that eventually spills out onto the street. In the scene, inspired by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.’s Daredevil run in the comics, we see a bit of Murdock’s heightened senses when he hears a nearby chain clinking against a metal bar that he can use as a weapon.
The whole sequence, broken up by a flashback to a discussion between Murdock and his father, is well-choreographed but absolutely brutal. Murdock and the assailant throw each other around with an intense fury of jabs and knife swipes while drenched in darkness and, eventually, rain. It’s a more grounded depiction of violence than we’re used to seeing in Marvel movies. But that seems to be the goal. Charlie Cox described Daredevil as “a character [who] suits a slightly older audience,” and Netflix affords the creative team the ability to go darker “without alienating anyone.”
“Ending episodes with cliffhangers is fruitless,” Cox said. “We get to spend more time on real stories. It’s going to feel like a 13-hour movie.” He meant that in a good way, of course.
6. Not everything is bleak: In another clip, Dawson’s Claire Temple patches up a major knife wound in Murdock’s side after she finds him in a Dumpster on her night off. The scene showed off some of the show’s humor, which will be needed to keep it from being too oppressively serious–though, let’s be honest, no one would argue any Marvel Studios film has been too straitlaced.
7. So will there be crossovers? Loeb and the cast remained silent on whether the Netflix series would acknowledge the world of Marvel’s films – or the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But when a fan asked Loeb if Agent Phil Coulson and his agents would have some impact on Daredevil’s world, he replied, “It’s all connected, man.” So don’t expect Marvel’s New York-based heroes to fight the good fight completely alone.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed Frank Miller’s run of Daredevil comics to Mark Millar. The post has been updated to reflect this.