Ceej: So, what do we think about D’Onofrio’s Kingpin then? Where do you guys rank him in the Marvel villain stakes?
Jules: Love him. It would have been the easiest thing to make him big, mean and intimidating, like Michael Clarke Duncan (which was fine), but D’Onofrio brings vulnerability and depth, while still being terrifying. He’s a monster, but a very human monster.
Martin: One of the most engaging, layered, and credible villains ever to appear in a comic book show or film. Didn’t fall into typical trope – traps, and played it with a pathos and intensity that’ll be hard to match.
Chris J: I think, god rest his soul, Michael Clarke Duncan wasn’t really a great choice as Fisk…but then, was anything in that film? Even though he embodied the large physical presence of the Kingpin, I felt that the character was practically one-dimensional. Similar to what Jules said, D’Onofrio brought a humanity to the character, and I actually found myself enjoying any air time when he was making his power moves with his villainous group. It reminded me almost of a Sith-like cloak and dagger power struggle, but knowing that behind his physical strength and his cerebral way of working, there was also a damaged kid that could never recover from past traumas.
Ross: Agreed on all counts – though I’d extend Martin’s sentiment to ‘any TV show in recent memory’. I can’t remember the last time I was genuinely unsettled by a villain’s behaviour, and when Fisk crushes that Russian’s head in the car door… *shudders* Just the blind rage that crackles under the guy’s ‘good’ intentions and fancy suits – D’Onofrio made Fisk’s internal conflict visible in the subtlest of ways, and it was an absolute masterclass in antagonist execution.
Chris J: I think that’s what commonly lacks in ventures like this. It’s easy to vilify characters and make them horrific, but to show how he isn’t an alien or a monster and that in fact he is a human, formed by circumstances I commonly see within my work, with historical issues that I have to deal with, that’s what I think launches him above the rest. He is the monster, or villain, that can and is out there right now. He is a monster created from our society!
Gary: Yeah, I thought Kingpin was great. I mean, looking back at the gallery of villains that Marvel has burned through so far not very many are as fully explored. Again, that’s a benefit of playing it out over the course of season rather than a movie, and now I just want to see Kingpin and Spidey finally square up which has never been an opportunity before since they were each owned by different studios. So yeah, I’d rate him just under Loki and above Ronan, Red Skull etc. etc. since they were just explained with exposition and not overly developed. I’d exclude Thanos from that list since we have only glimpsed him really, and he hasn’t played his part yet.
Laurence: Personally I think they cheated with Wilson Fisk. The show was receiving comparisons to The Wire and other shows, giving us simplified versions of social and political corruption and drug trafficking that never carried any weight. Until the last few episodes, that is. The same could be said about Fisk. He was behind the curtain for too long, and once he did show up he seemed incapable of functioning as a regular human being let along mention a crime boss. They needed to reveal Fisk’s origin story sooner because every time he and Wesley were together I found myself thinking that Wesley was more of a badass than Fisk. But to reiterate, in the final episode, D’Onofrio showed us who “The Kingpin” really is.
Greg: To me Kingpin didn’t feel ‘villain-y’ enough, he just seemed really damaged and like he was genuinely doing what he felt was right. I actually felt quite sorry for him with his love story,
Chris J: I actually think that’s what made Fisk great. He was just a damaged kid who wanted to keep himself safe by becoming the biggest fish in the ocean. I also loved the fact that through this, his social interactions were jagged and stunted. But most of all, as you said, you felt for him. You could understand that he was, in his own twisted way, trying to better his home area, showing that him and Matt are two sides of the same coin.
Ceej: Okay, let’s talk about some specifics. Favourite moment over the course of the entire 13 episodes… GO!
Jules: There’s really obvious ones that had me punching the air with glee like the Corridor Fight and the fight with Stick, but the scene that I loved most isn’t even a big one. It’s when the hood tries to name Fisk while in custody and the cops just murder him in cold blood. That one scene summed up how powerful and feared The Kingpin is, how corrupt the cops are and the odds Daredevil is up against. And also, this is a Marvel Comics TV show and the cops are murdering folk in the police station. Yes!
Gary: The head getting smashed in by Fisk with the car door, made him look like a shark. Up until then he was pretty downplayed in terms of physicality but that scene really made him seem like more than just a crime boss and therefore more of a match for the concluding showdown between him and Daredevil.
Jules: Yeah, the car door is up there…
Ross: I really loved the late-game flashbacks to Matt and Foggy’s college years, juxtaposing the start of their friendship with what could well have been the end of it. Any moment Scott Glenn was on-screen was also way up there.
Gary: The Foggy and Matt college flashbacks was a bit like the Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra mini-series that had the three of them in the same college as teens. Especially since they dropped the Elektra reference in that scene.
Jules: They were all in the same college in the regular continuity too, Gary.
Chris J: I loved the whole section with Karen and Foggy helping out the tenant. It made for good TV and it provided some great development for both characters. What then impressed me again was when the tenant was killed, and you could see the cracks start to form with Foggy… which was portrayed brilliantly in my opinion. I also loved Stick, as he showed you what Matt could be if he crossed the line. There were no apologies made by Stick for his cut-throat attitude, and I loved that. Finally, I loved the interactions between Fisk and Mrs Gau. I loved the fact she, like Fisk, played her cards close to her chest and that every interaction between the pair was almost like a game of power chess, each trying to out manoeuvre the other.
Martin: Hallway fight, Car door death, The American Psycho vibe when we see Fisk in his apartment, the intro, subtle easter eggs as opposed to ‘oh look, it’s the Riddler!’, the fight between DD and Nobu. I also loved the symbolism in regard to the painting Fisk bought, called rabbit in a snowstorm.
Ross: So we’re all agreed on ‘too many to count’?
Ceej: Haha, yeah, that seems like a fair assessment. Okay, so what about the final episode costume reveal, then? What did you guys think of the look they went with?
Martin: I loved the black ‘Man Without Fear’ get up, but the DD costume was a little too ‘Dark Knight’, a bit too busy from a design perspective, although it does look practical, which I’m sure fits better with the realistic tone.
Jules: I loved how he wore the black for so long. It really emphasised the fact that he was just a man, putting himself in really dangerous situations. The real suit, it was okay. Nothing spectacular, but still head and shoulders above the Affleck version. I’d like to see it tweaked in Season 2 though, it’s a bit over panelled and lined, kinda like a live action New 52 uniform. My only real quibble of the whole show and even that is a minor one…
Chris J: Spot on there Jules.
Gary: It was kinda disappointing in all honesty. They did explain in show that the costume was incomplete, but that doesn’t overlook poor design choices, and having that black cloth cut under the cowl just looked cheap and poorly cut in the final costume. The black costume he cobbles together made sense, but the payoff had to be the red one and for me it didn’t quite deliver. Still, as a work in progress it will do just now… but they need to get it looking a bit more like the Daredevil in the title sequence.
Laurence: The suit didn’t bother as much as the cowl did. Affleck’s cowl was a lot more streamlined without being too bulky. Plus I felt cheated after they show us a form-fitting mask in the opening credits.
Ross: I didn’t mind the Batman-esque vibe of the body suit – it makes sense that he’d want some kind of armour, given the brutal context of the rest of the show. The cowl’s design was a decent idea, but there was something a little off about the execution – the ‘eyes’ of the thing were just a little two low, like someone had left a ‘The Sims’ slider in the wrong place when they were designing it. It wasn’t a disaster of Steel proportions, but they do need to do some work on it. Fingers crossed they’ll make some subtle changes for series 2 that’ll improve on it, whilst keeping it visually consistent.
Chris J: I really liked the ‘guerilla vigilante’ look he was sporting throughout the course of the first season. It fit with the show and for people not as up to date on the daredevil stuff *cough cough* *looks away shamefully* it shows people that he was just flying by the seat of his pants. Which was mirrored throughout the series. His inability to see past the here and now. The new suit now, now, by no means would I want to see another fully leather-clad Affleck Daredevil, but I do agree with the cowl needing to change. It all looks a bit busy. Like Martin, I like the realistic/ tactical look of his suit but again, just simplify it a little. Maybe this will change with the second series… i don’t know but I wouldn’t mind seeing it in more detail before fully writing it off.
Ceej: And finally, with the second season being confirmed last week, what are you guys hoping to see from the show in 2016?
Jules: Gladiator and The Owl as minor villains. Establish Bullseye and The Hand as the big bad. Then, as much as I want to see her, leave Elektra for Season 3.
Gary: I’m not sure what I see happening in the follow up. I don’t think Elektra or Bullseye as Assassins work without a boss to put out the order, and they do remind you of the Daredevil movie which you’d imagine they would want to stay distinct from. They can’t just wheel out Kingpin again since he has had his arc – for now, at least. One area I felt they were pointing towards is the situation surrounding Karen and the secret that she killed a dude, so perhaps this will be the thing that drives her to drugs and that whole bleak storyline.
Jules: Bullseye could work for The Owl or any other mob leader though. He needs established before he can kill Elektra, just as The Hand do. Kingpin could come back in a Season 3, with a new female assassin at his side…
Gary: If Karen is full-blown on the junk by Season 3, then bringing Kingpin back would be good shout. This could lead to him finding out that DD is actually Murdock, furthering the plot between them. After being revealed as a power player, I imagine when he returns he will need a lieutenant figure to take on DD rather than dirty his hands and risk prison/losing Vanessa again.
Ross: I’m keen to see how they’re planning on interweaving the other series, and to see what implications, if any, Age of Ultron may have. The showrunners have demonstrated a deft hand in that regard so far, and I’d love to see them mingling any of the stories Gary and Jules mentioned with the wider MCU stuff. There’s just such a wealth of great material out there that’s begging to be adapted into the continuity. Can’t wait is an understatement!
Laurence: Specifically? I want to see Daredevil in costume lurking in the shadows of the church asking for direction. I want Daredevil’s billy clubs complete with grappling hook. Also, and I have to just get it off my chest again – I want to see a cowl that’s more representative of the title card sequence! I want to see Spider-Man and Daredevil jumping off rooftops and swinging between buildings or having some deep meaning conversation a church or somewhere with gargoyle statues. If that’s too much to ask for, I just want a one-shot of Peter Parker hiring Matt Murdock. One thing I’m not looking forward to seeing is the abuse that Karen Page will have to endure. From the moment she was introduced all I thought to myself was “poor Karen”.
Jules: I can’t wait to see all that play out. It’ll be grim viewing though. I’d rather they held off on it though. Elektra needs to come before ‘Born Again’ and it would be too much for both in the same season. Neither storyline would get the attention it deserves. So I’d like:
S2: The Hand, Bullseye
S4: Born Again
S5: Bendis/Brubaker storylines from here on in.
Not that I’m getting carried away with myself!
Ceej: Hah! Not at all. Thanks for the chat, guys, and we’ll see you all back here again in a week or so as we break down Age of Ultron!