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How Netflix's 'Daredevil' Matches Up to the Comics

We compare some of the plot points and story beats and analyze the possible scenarios Season 2 may take.

Story by Matt Cummings

By now, you've heard that online distributor Netflix has partnered with Marvel to produce a series of television programs featuring several Nick Cage, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil. The latter premiered on April 9th as a 13-episode series, and tells the story of the blinded Matt Murdock, lawyer by day and crime fighter by night. He uses his heightened senses and fierce fighting skills to clean up Hell's Kitchen, a particularly nasty borough near The Avengers' climactic battle in Manhattan.

But this isn't merely a jumping off point for a collection of Netflix-based heroes: Netflix has made some very interesting connections and planted many, many easter egss for the diehard fans. The result is a vastly-improved series over ABC's Agents of SHIELD (read Brandon's most recent review here), but how do the television and comic versions of The Man Without Fear align? We present just a few connections below. Please note this article contains SPOILERS:

Matt Murdock
When the series begins, Murdock is wearing an improvised black suit from Frank Miller and Joe Quesada Man Without Fear miniseries. Stretching back into his early days, Daredevil dons a suit not unlike Christian Bale did in Batman Begins, with the main difference being the blindfold Daredevil sports. Just like the Miller series - which firmly established the darker world of Hell's Kitchen - Daredevil takes down a human trafficking ring. Once we get to the final television episode - titled Daredevil - we get a much different-looking suit than the comics, looking more like an assault suit dipped in red. However, the trademark horns are there, reminding us how the hero got his name.

Foggy Nelson and Karen Page
While reporter Ben Ulrich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) was re-worked for the series (he actually worked for The Daily Bugle in Spider-man), both Foggy and Karen (played by Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll, respectively) are pretty much the same as they're portrayed in the rebooted Kevin Smith/John Romina run, with some small changes. In that 1998 run, Foggy comes from a prestigious lawfirm run by his mother Rosalind Sharpe, which he and Murdock quit to run their own firm. However, the start-up money comes from the tragic event of Karen being murdered by Bullseye, which doesn't occur in this season. From the moment artist Gene Colan imagined him in Daredevil #20, Foggy has been consistently drawn as a short, pudgy guy, which Henson fits to a tee. Woll, who made her name as the sexy seductress in True Blood, is actually rescued by Daredevil and eventually defended by Nelson and Murdock, who then hire her as their secretary, another departure from the comics but one that works very well in defining her instant infatuation for Matt. Getting back to Hall, his murder by Fisk should put Page on the path to becoming a reporter herself, which is a big part of Stan Lee's original story.

Kingpin/Wilson Fisk
One of the best parts of Netflix's Daredevil is the performance of Vincent D'Onofrio as the violent, shadowy gangster. His style and backstory have been modified for Season One, especially his clothing, which in both Smith and Miller's run he is donning pure white suits with sometimes colorful vests. We do see Kingpin - given the name for his absolute control of the New York gangs - sport white prison clothes in the series' final shots. As for his violent upbringing, Netflix does bring Fisk's first murder to the forefront in episode 8 Shadows in the Glass, again just slightly different than in Writer/Artist David Mack's 1999-2000 seven-issue Parts of a Hole. Also, D'Onofrio brings a more shy leader to the role, a person who isn't comfortable even in his own skin; that brings a heightened sense of realism to the character, especially when he goes Car Door on the local Russian Anatoly. In the end, it's different, but the true nature of Kingpin's personality is still there: hide in the shadows, bring out your big guns when it's time to play, and take everyone else out so you can run things. Kids, are you listening?

The Small Details
Daredevil gives so many nods to the comic fans - from the inclusion of the comic "Runaways" ally Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) to Matt Murdock's father fighting Carl 'Crusher' Creel, who will eventually become Absorbing Man - that you literally have to watch every episode to see them. No joke: there must be 6-12 tips-of-the-cap in each episode, making them totally re-watchable. Even corporate lowlife Leland Owlsley (Bob Gunton) has a rich history, eventually taking on the name ‘The Owl’ and becoming one of many baddies Daredevil battles throughout the comics.

And finally, there's Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), who helps stitch Murdock back together: she's none other than Night Nurse, NY's answer to a MASH unit. She even briefly appears in Episode 17 of the David Mack run that also introduces a Caucasian Urich searching for Leap Frog. Although her name is Linda Carter in the comics, it seems that Netflix has merged the roles, possibly setting up her return in aka Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. She even shows up in “Civil War,” which could see Dawson expanding her role into the films far sooner than we might have expected.

Is that Stan Lee?
Take a look at the picture behind the desk man and tell us that does not look like a fuzzy image of the great Stan Lee. So. Epic.

And On and On...
We could literally go on for pages, but we hope you realize just how deeply connected Daredevil is to its comic brethren. That tells us many things about it creators, namely that their appreciation of the fans is just as importance in making great content. The result is a Daredevil ready to make a dark splash in the deep end of the Marvel pool, mindful of its past but looking forward to the future. With that much going for it, audiences should enjoy multiple viewing while dragging out their old comic books to follow along with the adventures of Matt Murdock and Hell's Kitchen.

Season 2 should keep fans around, as Netflix weaves it web a lot wider, as Fisk re-establishes his authority (and dons the new clothes as a result), while adding Murdock to the superhero team of 'The Defenders,' which would most likely premiere on Netflix after a Season 2. And we'll need another season to fully bring this story to a close. With so many rich characters, it's likely we'll see an announcement soon. But for now, enjoy the many easter eggs and an arc that seems well-suited to the Netflix model.

What do you think, fellow Sandwich-ers? Which tips did you enjoy uncovering? Let us know below, and we'll add them to this week's podcast!

Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


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