There were packed houses at New York Comic Con. And then there was the crowd that greeted the Saturday afternoon panel devoted to Marvel’s Netflix series Daredevil and upcoming series Jessica Jones. It was stuffed to the gills with fans. They seemed to be in every seat in the hall, which comfortably accommodated several thousand people, with folks standing in the back of the auditorium, on the sides, in the aisles. The New York Comic Con crowd was ready and really, really pumped.
And they had every right to be. Daredevil, which premiered in full on Netflix this past April and instantly became a fan favorite, is one of the most challenging and sophisticated small screen superhero sagas yet. It took place in the identifiable Marvel Cinematic Universe, but took place on a smaller scale; emotions were just as often bruised as bodies. Its hyper-specific setting (the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York) made the drama more manageable and human. It is darker and grittier than the Marvel movies, but because the story necessitates that. Also, we got one of the all-time great hero/villain showdowns in Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock, a lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante, and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk, a kingpin of crime masquerading as a concerned New York philanthropist. As soon as the first season was over, you were ready for the second. Don’t worry – it’s coming.
At the panel this afternoon were Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez, who are the co-showrunners this year, along with the cast of Daredevil: Elodie Yung (who plays Elektra this season), Jon Bernthal (who plays the Punisher this season), and returning favorites Elden Henson (Foggy), Deborah Ann Woll (Karen Page), and Charlie Cox (Daredevil). Jeph Loeb, the creative head of Marvel’s TV division, who clearly has an affinity for the series (he called Henson’s Foggy “the heart of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe”), moderated the panel.
Early on, they showed footage from the new season, made up of glimpses of what’s to come: Matt in his new Daredevil costume, Elektra putting on her mask, Karen looking at the image of a skull (that looks eerily similar to the skull on the iconic Punisher costume), a priest telling Matt and Foggy that “Guilt can be a good thing,” Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple looking very disappointing, and then the Punisher, seen from behind and then uttering a single word: “Pain.” Bring it on.
Executive producer Ramirez addressed both the reaction of the first season and what to expect for the second. “I think a lot of what we were doing was wondering in our writers room if there was a place in the world where a dark, gritty, sophisticated, grounded superhero show could exist,” he explained. “Because of the fan reaction, which was overwhelming and wonderful, we said, you want it grounded, you want it dark? Here’s Elektra, here’s Punisher.” (In the comics Elektra is a sexy ninja assassin, created during Frank Miller’s influential run on the series. The Punisher is Frank Castle, a violent vigilante who makes Murdock’s nighttime prowling seem tame by comparison. Both characters fit comfortably in the mode of “antihero.” Ramirez has previously called the second season “Daredevil vs. Punisher.”) Petrie, who worked with Daredevil series creator Drew Goddard on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, added: “I hesitate to use the word blessing but all of us, across the board, we love two things: one of them is Matt Murdock, and the other is the world that Matt Murdock navigates.” He then summed up the new season thusly: “Now with the Punisher and Elektra we take it further and darker and more emotional. We’re fans too. So the stuff that you want to see, we want to see, and we can’t wait to show it to you.” (Petrie later teased that there would be more flashbacks this season.)
The new cast members seem particularly suited for their new roles. Yung has a black belt in karate. And Bernthal reached out to the show’s creators even before they had locked down what season two was going to be. Bernthal rubbed his face and said, in the most authentic and endearing way possible, “Look, I know how important this character to you guys. I know that. I know how important this show is to you guys. I know how important he is to law enforcement, the military, and I look at this as a huge honor, a huge responsibility, and I give you my absolute word that I am going to give everything that I have.” Later in the panel, Bernthal said that people on the street are only adding to the pressure. “15, 20 times a day I get, ‘You better not mess this up, man.’ And I say, ‘I hear you, I hear you.’”
As for the returning cast members, Woll teased that the next season would see more of Matt and Karen outside of the office. “I don’t know how far I can go, but Charlie Cox is one of my favorite people I’ve ever gotten to work with,” Woll enthused. “It’s been a privilege this season.” For his part, Cox explained his experience with Daredevil as being intimidating and incredibly rewarding. “I had some apprehension about playing someone known as the Man without Fear, because playing someone incapable of fear on a TV show isn’t that interesting. It robs you of one of my favorite characteristics in people, which is courage,” Cox said. “The thing I’ve learned the most from working with these people and playing this extraordinary character, is courage – how much courage it takes to be a vulnerable human but also a vulnerable superhero. It’s been a cool journey to be on.”
And the journey continues when Daredevil returns to Netflix in 2016.