Daredevil is here. All 13 episodes of the newest offering from Marvel Television are available for viewing on Netflix, and you may find yourself binge-watching this one whether you like it or not. It’s that good. Moody, dark, unsparing and brutal, Daredevil is utterly unique from anything Marvel has produced before and captures both the urban despair and moral ambiguity that has marked the best stretches of this long-running character’s six decades in the comics.
The story is largely faithful to the books and familiar to fans: Matthew Murdock (Charlie Cox), blinded and orphaned as a boy, grows up to become both a lawyer by day and a vigilante by night, consumed with fighting crime and evil in the gritty Manhattan neighborhood (Hell’s Kitchen) in which he grew up. He uses his other senses and his hand-to-hand combat skills – enhanced and honed through rigorous training from a mysterious mentor named Stick (Scott Glenn) – to battle the criminals that run rampant through his city. But he must also decide how far he is willing to go to stop them…
Joining Cox in the series are Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, Elden Henson as his law partner Foggy Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Vondie Curtis Hall as reporter Ben Urich and Vincent D’Onofrio in a brilliant turn as Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin, the powerful crime boss who seeks to take control of Hell’s Kitchen for his own ends.
Den of Geek participated in a roundtable discussion with Cox and Dawson at the show’s recent press day in Los Angeles, where the two stars spoke about doing the show’s stunning fight scenes, having time to develop their characters and what the future might hold.
You’re a true bad ass in Daredevil. Would it be correct to assume that you’re doing your own stunts in this?
Cox: Yes. I’m doing as much as I’m allowed to do, which at times is a great deal and other times not so much. As the series progressed I was kind of up to date with the training and so I was able to do more than maybe in earlier scenes. But I’m quite lucky in this regard I really enjoy all the physical aspects of making a film and luckily I’m quite good at picking up the moves. I can usually do them. I have to learn them on the day.
Normally we don’t have time to rehearse days before so I normally try and pick up six to ten moves at a time, we’ll film that from a couple of different angles and then we’ll move on and stuff. And then, of course, I have my amazing stunt double Chris Brewster, who will every now and again throw in a 360 double flip kick that I didn’t know people could do.
I don’t do those ones.
Tell us a bit about the intense sequence in the hallway (a fight between Murdock and two assailants shot in one sustained take that appears at the end of episode 2).
Cox: I remember reading that in the script and having to kind of go through it very, very slowly and be like, wait, how is this going to work? What is this going to look like? It was really a very magical day because it was one of the last days of the first — we block shot the first two episodes, one and two together, Phil Abraham was the director and it was one of the last shooting days of that and we had the whole day dedicated to it.
The first half of the day was just the camera movement, just the camera going back and forth and making sure we got all the angles and where I was supposed to be. It was very, very tricky because every single hit has to sell on camera. If one is missed, the whole shot doesn’t work.
Dawson: I just loved that it keeps going and you’re like, “Oh my god this is so good.” And I think that’s due to the luxury of the time that we have. When you’re doing a 13 hour movie almost, you get to really take that time, not only with just the fights but with everything, you know, with the development of the suit, with the development of the characters and the idea.
That’s the thing that I’m so moved by when I think about the hero’s journey and someone who says, “Vigilante justice is my calling.” It’s not something that just happens once…I mean at any point you can walk away and the fact that this person gets back up and tries again, throws that punch again, you’re just like, “Yes, that’s really exciting.” And like a police officer or fireman they’re just this normal person. There’s no radioactive spider bite or alien father or anything else to kind of play with.
Does that motivate your character to choose to help Matt and to justify that you’re aiding this person who’s doing some gray area justice?
Dawson: I like that that’s our tagline is “Justice is blind.” And I think how we even imagine what that looks like, we have blinders on about how to get to these different things. So when you’re really talking about helping here, in a lot of situations it’s a lot to get someone to even call 911, let alone jump in and try to protect somebody or put themselves in danger for the sake of someone else.
So I think she has in her own background for what she does, you know, she’s used to being in emergency situations; she’s used to going in and trying to help, but she’s usually patching people back up. She’s not patching them back up so they can go back out and get scrappy again. And so that’s a really interesting thing because she believes in him and she believes in what he’s doing. But it’s definitely challenging for her to accept.
But I think that’s the amazing thing and hopefully, especially as you go through the series, you’ll see a lot of people confronted with what they think they know and how things should be and then looking at the gritty, dark, not black and white but very gray reality that things won’t always fit into a perfect box that you want them to. So how do you continue to still fight for and stand in the position that you want to, which is being a hero? That’s why it makes them reluctant heroes, because it isn’t easy and it isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes them heroes because they keep doing it.
Right now she does heroic things, but I think she’s definitely moved by who he is as a person and is forced to ask herself, “Could I be doing more?” I’m curious to see how people react to that because I think it’s a subliminal question but I think it’s a very real question that is presented in the show.
Even though this is obviously from Marvel, did the Netflix aspect create a sort of an independent feeling on set, that you’re taking all this time to really tell the story and not just rush it and did that really give you a lot of freedom as an actress?
Dawson: I loved that. I loved that idea, like in the long story form of comics, that we got to explore it and take our time. I really liked that. That to me plays my strengths. I do much a more realistic kind of — I like to be very grounded. So it was so fun for me, knowing I was going and actually getting to do good work — like real connection, real drama, real comedy, real action, very real-feeling.
There’s this idea of, “Wow what is that that drives people to not take the easy route?” Like who does that and why does it look so scary? This hero is doing things that makes you cringe and feel uncomfortable and this bad guy is actually someone who I sympathize with. It gets very confusing and gray and I like that.
Charlie, do you feel that there was a lot of freedom for you as an actor on the set to create this character?
Cox: Yeah. Marvel was very incredibly generous and trusting with the character. They were very vocal about saying, “We’ve chosen you based on the work that you did in auditions, but now take it and run with it and find your own way.” And I think it was important because over the course of the 60-plus years that Daredevil has been in print the character has changed a great deal. He’s changed not just visually, but also the way he speaks and operates over time.
I think the danger is to try and please everyone.
Rosario, in the comic books Claire Temple has ties to a lot of other Marvel characters including Luke Cage. Is there any possibility we might be seeing you on some of the other Netflix series?
Dawson: That was actually one of the things that totally drew me to it. I just loved the fact that when you’re playing with Marvel you’re playing with the Marvel Universe and that means anything could happen. That’s very exciting. And just the fact that I’m playing Claire Temple/Night Nurse, you’re already know knowing something’s happening, something’s being tweaked, something’s being played with and so that’s good. I like the question mark that comes with that.
If you had to choose one scene from any of the episodes you shot so far to embody the show, that you would say to people, “This is what the show is about,” what would you choose?
Cox: There’s a scene at the very end of episode 4 between (Rosario) and I, and I remember when I read that scene it gave me goose bumps. There’s a little moment where Rosario’s being held in a garage and the lights go out and she says, “You want to know his name, ask him yourself,” and I just remember thinking that’s the kind of show I want to be in. That’s one of the coolest moments. It’s so badass.
Daredevil is available for viewing starting Friday (April 10) on Netflix.