With Charlie Cox just recently announced as being Daredevil/Matt Murdock in the DAREDEVIL Netflix series, it would be a shame to let the moment pass without somehow taking advantage. So let’s hustle on to the next bit of idle speculation: the villains. No casting, just me going over the characters.
Last time out I talked the villains I have who I know did not have a ghost of a chance. This time, let’s look at the dark horses who might surprise.
The Villains That Are Shoo-ins. I Mean, They Have to Be Right?
Purple Man- Zebediah Killgrave is a former Russian spy who was doused with chemicals that left him quite purple and able to manipulate the minds of others via pheromones. He is not much of a fighter, but he is a tremendous threat as he can turn anyone in his physical proximity to his side in a matter of moments.
Why They Gotta!- A purple skinned guy who used to a Russian spy is probably not what immediately comes to mind when you think “street-level” but those aspects are pretty easy fixes. Lighten the purple from comics to more of a tincture or reduce it to specific parts of his body (think eyes and a closely shorn bit of purple hair) and it keeps the reason for his name without much back bending or a tub of makeup. The Russian spy thing is even easier to ditch. Vague up his origin a bit and, boom, on your way.
Besides how easy Killgrave would be to “fix”, he boasts an ability that is spooky and dangerous (remember "Pusher", the X-Files episode from season 3? If not, check it out. That’s Purple Man.) and no budgetary issues. It also allows you to lace the whole show with a healthy dose of paranoia as who knows who Killgrave might control next. Or what he might ask them to do.
Finally, to look beyond DAREDEVIL to the project as a whole, Purple Man rather uniquely tortured Jessica Jones in comics which connects him to her, obviously, and thus, her husband Luke Cake (depending on if the Netflix series(es) choosing “modern” Jones and Cage), and, to a lesser extent, Cage’s best friend Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist.
Why Nothing is Certain- The producers might not be able to look past that crayon purple skin tone or that so dated Cold War origin. Also, if they decide not to depicted Jones and Cage as having a romantic relationship of some kind (although, why wouldn’t they?) that nice little connection chain falls apart right away.
Typhoid Mary- Mary Walker suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and amongst those personalities is her base, known just as Mary, who entices and draws in the heart and mind of Matt Murdock, and of course, Typhoid, a pyrokinetic, sexually predatory assassin who brutalizes Daredevil’s body. In the comics, she was first on Kingpin’s payroll and eviscerated Murdock’s life, costing him his relationship and his sanity and forcing him out of New York for a time. Years later, she’d also be the means through which DD was able to destroy the Kingpin.
Why They Gotta!- A compelling female villain is rare in comic book movies and TV (let’s see, we have Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS, Catwoman in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and…well…?) and here’s a great one. Multi-faceted (and not just because of multiple personalities), a bizarre but interesting look, and involvement with the lead on two levels. And yes, as mentioned above, she was a bit of tool of the people around her, but she can stand on her own. Or, barring that, she can also offer something commentary regarding society’s treatment of women, something that can resound loudly in a comic book project.
Why Nothing is Certain- As with Gladiator in the last installment, getting the mental health aspect “right” is difficult and imperative. The curve on her feels easier to negotiate than Potter’s, but it’s still here.
Mister Hyde- Calvin Zabo didn’t choose his name by accident, he truly is a modern day Jeckyll/Hyde, vacillating between his “normal” alter ego and his monstrous id creature Hyde. Smart, dangerous, and immoral, he’s often depicted in comics as a Hannibal Lecter with super strength.
Why They Gotta!- Zabo is scary on multiple levels, arguably smarter than Murdock and definitely stronger. He can give you a scenery chewing villain if that’s what you want or just the rarely seen, but always devastating “monster in the closet” that casts an nerve wracking shadow over the series.
Why Nothing is Certain- The name carries its own baggage even if Zabo is not actually THE Hyde of the story.
The Owl- Leland Owlsley could have just looked at his name and ended up with his alter ego, but, to make matters more clear
, he was given the nickname by financial writers (think Jordan Belfort) for his business activities. With the IRS breathing down his neck for questionable business practices, Owlsley doubles down and becomes a crime boss.
Why They Gotta!- A crime boss figure that lets you circumvent Kingpin (see below about that) is useful in and of itself. A crime boss figure that lets you circumvent Kingpin and has a super villain gimmick? I believe the term is “jackpot”! Plus, with the US still smarting from nefarious financiers, he’s a criminal with a bit more bite than just a cackling super villain
Why Nothing is Certain- If you do go Kingpin (again, see below) the Owl is less compelling and has less history with Daredevil so he probably is not worth “wasting” running time on. Additionally, a bird-themed crime boss might strike some as inherently silly and/or might evoke Penguin (who will have been on GOTHAM for a bit by this point) and the show may want to steer clear of that.
BONUS: The Elephants in the Room
Kingpin, Bullseye, and Elektra- I have no idea if the Netflix will use these guys, but I can imagine that temptation being immense. They are incredibly intertwined with DD (imagine Batman’s relationship with Catwoman and Joker, Superman’s with Lex Luthor and Lois Lane [but sometimes evil!], or Spider-Man’s with Green Goblin, Venom, and either Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy [but, again, sometimes evil!]). They are his greatest love (and an incredibly dangerous foe) in Elektra, his terrifying physical enemy in Bullseye, and the seemingly unbeatable crime boss who enjoys taking apart the hero’s life in Kingpin. Who wouldn’t want to get all up in that drama.
On the other hand, we’ve already seen them and seen them in a generally (correctly or incorrectly) less than favorably viewed project, the DAREDEVIL art.
Other difficulties with them include finding an actor who can evoke Kingpin’s ridiculous stature while still capturing his formidable mental prowess, Elektra’s solo potential, and…a third thing to make this a nice list of three.
Look, I love the characters and I’m certainly not going to cry if they show up. On the other hand, it would be great to see the show go in a bit of an atypical direction and dig a little deeper for the show (and/or the DEFENDERS project in total).