(This week contains spoilers for the Daredevil TV show on Netflix. I don’t think there are any significant spoilers for the plot of the show, only minor spoilers that most likely only comic book fans will notice, but if you’re the type that likes to watch something without any knowledge going in, you’ve been warned to wait until after finishing to continue reading. Also, send us money.)
The Netflix Daredevil show is unquestionably the best superhero TV show ever created. Comic books, as a serial medium based on cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, is actually better suited to the television medium, more than it is motion pictures. The problem is that few television shows can afford to pay for the type of special effects and production values that it takes to make a really great superhero show. Plus, the format of network TV requires a certain number of episodes per season, and those episodes are written and filmed on a revolving deadline throughout the season. That usually leads to a lot of “filler” episodes and drastic changes in direction as the writing and production teams figure it out as they go. HBO and AMC have received lots of well-deserved praise for shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, respectively, by forgoing that type of production schedule, and writing and producing seasons in their entirety before they ever even air. It’s not hard to see this is the better way to produce entertainment. The results are apparent.
This won’t be an extended review of Daredevil. Just know that it is very, very good. It’s not good because it’s dark, and violent, and uses curse words, like some will no doubt determine is the reason it’s great. It’s great because it’s got superb writing and excellent acting (the guy playing Foggy was outstanding).
What follows is one of the more fun things to do with any live-action superhero production: find Easter Eggs. Easter Eggs are specific references to the comic books that only the most seasoned long-time fans will probably be able to spot. Let’s get hunting.
Bullseye is frequently an assassin working on behalf of Wilson Fisk, otherwise known as the Kingpin in the comics. Bullseye is the deadliest of Daredevil’s enemies, having killed at least two of Matt Murdock’s girlfriends throughout the history of the comic series. Internet speculation is that one of the masked sniper’s on Fisk’s payroll is Bullseye. Normally I would write this off as a “Coulson is the Vision” level stretch, but there is one shot where you can see a playing card in the sniper’s tactical bag.
Bullseye is awfully fond of using playing cards as a weapon.
The red ninja that Daredevil fights is pretty clearly a member of the Hand, a criminal organization of ninja assassins. Daredevil has crossed paths with the Hand on multiple occasions, even becoming the head of their clan at one point. The Hand are famous for resurrecting the dead, so keep that in mind anytime someone dies in future shows. Matt’s mentor and teacher, Stick, heads a group of warriors named the Chaste that are determined to keep the Hand from getting too powerful. The large man at the end of episode seven is most likely Stone, a member of the Chaste. Stick and Stone, comics have not really been the most subtle of mediums.
In a college flashback, Foggy mentions that Matt took a Spanish class to get close to a girl. That “Greek girl” is definitely Elektra Natchios, one of the most significant romantic interests in the history of the Daredevil series, and is a breakout character in her own right. She also has a long history with the Hand.
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the show, Matt spends some time as a boy at Saint Agnes Orphanage, the same orphanage Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. resided. Jack Murdock’s final boxing match was against Carl “Crusher” Creel, who would eventually gain super powers and fight S.H.I.E.L.D. as the Absorbing Man. (Both of these references are automatically the only cool things about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show.)
Josie’s dive bar is a longtime fixture of the Daredevil comic series.
Before Marvel Comics changed their company name in the early 60’s, they were known as Atlas Comics. (It was as Atlas that they published Captain America and Sub-Mariner comics in the ‘40s, two characters that still play prominent roles in Marvel comics to this day.) The Atlas Investments logo on the office door across the hall from Nelson and Murdock’s law office, is nearly identical to the old Atlas Comics logo.
This could also be a subtle reference to fan favorite superhero team the Agents of Atlas. Time will tell.
Obviously there are multiple references to the Battle of New York in The Avengers movie. The framed front page newspaper stories in Ben Urich’s office refer to that battle, as well as the Hulk’s fight against the Abomination in Incredible Hulk. Hell’s Kitchen may have been an awful place to be when the Daredevil comic first started in the ‘60s, but from what I understand, it’s now an upscale neighborhood. Having it being bombed out and crime-ridden following the Avengers’ alien battle is a nice touch.
Turk is a low-level criminal and long-time whipping boy, and source of information for, Daredevil. He usually tries to resist for a half-second before readily offering up everything he knows to Daredevil. He makes me smile every single time he appears in the show.
Madame Gao mentions that she is from somewhere considerably farther than China, which just might be the mystical city of K’un L’un, home of the character Iron Fist. Iron Fist is due to get his own series on Netflix, so this would be an easy way to tie the two shows together.
Gao briefly displays an affinity for the martial arts, which would also fit (even though in the comics women aren’t allowed to learn martial arts in K’un L’un, but that could be ignored for the show). Also, the symbol that Gao uses on her packets of heroin belongs to Davos, The Steel Serpent, a longtime adversary of Iron Fist. I probably should have led with that.
Claire Temple, played by Rosario Dawson in the show, was a minor character that used to date Luke Cage in the comic books. There was a short-lived series in the ‘70s called Night Nurse about a nurse named Linda Carter. Night Nurse was eventually revealed in the Daredevil series to be the source of medical care for superheroes. Claire may not specifically be Night Nurse, but she serves basically the same function in the show. There is also the tie to Luke Cage, who is also getting his own upcoming series on Netflix. Travis tells me that Claire is the ex-wife to Bill Foster, a friend and ally of Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. Bill used Pym’s size-changing “Pym particles” to become Black Goliath. This could provide a clear tie to the upcoming Ant-Man movie (if the Ant-Man movie wasn’t, by all appearances, going to be an abomination).
Roxxon is an all-purpose evil corporation responsible for various misdeeds throughout Marvel history (they are currently causing a lot of problems in the current Thor series). They’ve already been referenced in the Iron Man films. It’s fitting that representing Roxxon is the final straw for Nelson and Murdock opening their own law office.
One of the stranger moments in Daredevil comic history is when Matt pretended to have a twin brother named Mike, to avoid speculation that he was Daredevil. Claire deciding to call Daredevil by the name Mike could be a subtle nod to that.
In the comics, Melvin Potter is also a frequent Daredevil opponent named The Gladiator. There is a “Revenge of the Gladiators” movie poster on the wall in his shop. One of the patterns on his work table is very clearly a pattern for the costume Alex Maleev designed for the Gladiator in the comics.
There are also blueprints for the hand-saw weapons he wears in the comics, and in one scene you can clearly see Stilt Man’s legs!
“Betsy” is social worker Betsy Beatty, who helps Melvin with his criminal tendencies, and who he loves like a puppy dog.
Leland Owsley is the real name of a longtime also-ran crime boss named The Owl. He, obviously, wears an owl-themed outfit. While I don’t think this Leland Owsley will get dressed up in an Owl costume, he does mention that he has a son.
I have no idea what this is.
If you thought he didn’t make one of his trademarked cameos, pay very close attention to a photo on the wall behind the front desk of the police precinct.
That’s all I have for now. Feel free to let us know anything you saw or found yourself. When I was a kid, the best I ever got in live-action was the extremely cheesy Daredevil and Kingpin that appeared in the made-for-televison movie Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Now there’s a 13-episode R-rated television series based on one of Marvel’s preeminent crime/superhero comics. We live in magical times, my friends.
(Bring on Luke Cage and Iron Fist! -Duy)