Marvel’s original Daredevil Netflix series is nearly upon us. This April the blind crime fighter will begin his conquest to rid the city of New York of street level crime, and so too will his rise from nothing coincide with the nefarious King-Pins climb to villainous prominence. One question about the series though is ongoing in my mind, where exactly does Daredevil fit into Marvels established movie cinematic universe? From where I’m standing it doesn’t seem to fit at all.
Different though Marvels established MCU heroes might be in both character and stories the one aspect they all share is tone. What I mean by that is each film tells a drastically different tale, but ultimately does so using the same approach/style. Marvels films are light-hearted, there are dramatic moments naturally but for the most part the company seems keen to avoid hanging on overly dark moments.
Even the death of Thor’s mother is quickly forgotten in The Dark World, Marvel wants audiences to enjoy an action packed and funny ride. Humor is at the forefront of the MCU approach, Hulk has time to punch Thor for laughs in the middle of climactic battle for example. Or perhaps the time Malikeith and Thor slid down the side of a London skyscraper during a battle to save the universe is another good example.
Based of my impressions of the trailers Marvel has released for Daredevil I can’t imagine him being played or laughs too often, or tragedy being brushed aside. Tragedy is at the forefront of Daredevil’s journey, it is quite literally what created the hero in his origin story. Blinded by mysterious chemicals as a child Matt’s other senses are raised to superhuman levels. In later life Matt Murdoch becomes a lawyer to fight crime, but on the side elects to hone his senses to battle street-level thugs under the adopted name Daredevil.
Daredevil’s more tragic character bio doesn’t mesh well with the over the top action of MCU. However some of the more ‘campy’ and silly elements will surely have to be adopted. It’s going to be difficult to tell a totally straight faced story about a blind man literally fighting crime completely unaided, and then watching him take down a gang boss. It’s a little far fetched – but entirely possible to do gritty. Love or hate it DC’s ‘Arrow’ is a good inspiration of how to take a preposterous idea and ground it in reality.
There’s another serious elements that detaches Daredevil from the rest of MCU – the caliber of his and his opponents power. Daredevil doesn’t wield a high tech suit of armor, nor a magical hammer and neither is he capable of transforming into a giant green rage monster. He’s a man, a blind man whose capabilities aren’t beyond that of a regular human. Armed with naught more than a pair tonfas and fast reaction times Daredevil is capable of beating normal men, nothing more. A direct comparison would be Batman without the tech.
Equally his enemies are lacking superhuman ability. Big baddie the kingpin is a business man with penchant for criminal activity. A gang boss in fewer words. Organised crime in one city is Daredevil’s nemesis. He’s not fighting super beings in battles where the fate of worlds, galaxies or Universes hangs in the balance. Over the top nefarious world domination plots are beyond him. He lives on the MCU’s ground floor.
He fights the type of people you fear in every day life: murderers, thieves, con men – good old fashioned criminals. That alone makes him unlike any other MCU character. Real life crime is almost glossed over as MCU takes an understandably fantastical approach to villainy. DareDevil’s world doesn’t fit that mold; it’s brutal, grim and almost depressing. That one shot of DareDevil spitting blood in the trailer really slams home the tonal difference.
Accepting all of those differences would it be right to assume that DareDevil isn’t going to meld with MCU? It’s almost certain that DareDevil will co-exist inside the MCU, it wouldn’t make sense for him not to. But I expect he’ll be a ‘ground floor hero’ like make other planned Netflix heroes – Iron Fist and Jessica Jones spring to mind. Altogether far darker stories than their big screen counterparts – I half expect to see The Punisher in the future.
DareDevil then I don’t feel will be joining the MCU in the traditional sense. Rather I see him as the first foray into a co-existing ‘ground level’ universe. A universe that exists alongside the MCU, both inhabiting the same world, but whose stories and characters will rarely, if ever overlap.