Special Spire Investigation: A Death-Defying Daredevil Discussion with Ryan K. Lindsay

So NYCC showed us a few bits and pieces from the Daredevil tv show starting in May next year – a few photos, a little bit of the casting, and most interestingly a glimpse of the tone. It seemed to go over pretty well with fans of the character, but I wasn’t really sure what to make of things. I don’t really know very much about what Daredevil is meant to be like, having only caught bits and pieces of his comics over the years.

So I decided – hey, I know an actual Daredevil Expert, so why not go ask him about it?

Ryan K. Lindsay is not only a comic critic and writer, but he’s also the author of ‘The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil”, published through Sequart. If there’s anyone who offer a proper professional opinion on this TV show, it’s him! And luckily, he was kind enough to come on across to The Spire and give us all some of his thoughts on the announcements at NYCC. Read on!

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Ryan, let’s just get a bit of comics context. How do you normally prefer your Daredevil? 

For me, the core of Daredevil is his narrative malleability. When I think of my favourite stuff, it’s usually the pulpy stuff, the Lark/Brubaker run stands as my absolute favourite (so much so that I wrote a whole chapter about the run in my Daredevil book [details below, intrepid hornheads] with Miller/Janson close behind, because those hit that crime sweetspot where I live. But I also really dug Gerber’s gonzo run, and the Samnee/Waid run has been spectacular – and while it’s lauded as light hearted it certainly has a lot of cancer and dancing with corpse sequences for a fluffy book, ha.

I think, however, through whatever genre you look at him, the core of Daredevil the book is Matt Murdock, and it’s watching him struggle, be fallible, and yet always continue that makes this book tick. It’s the human condition in operatic tones.

The series is being described as being dark- at NYCC he was described by Jeph Loeb as being “one step away from being The Punisher”. So it looks like he’ll be quite conflicted in this. Do you think that’s the best place to start with him?

I think the idea that Matt Murdock’s origin story is so close to a supervillain’s origin story is a great way to think of it – and thanks to Frank Miller for pointing that out. I think Matt and Frank Castle have a lot in common, but Matt knows when to pull back, and that’s the fun of his character. Seeing how far he’ll go, and then watching him always yield to cleverly be the good guy.

For me, that’s why Shadowland didn’t fly for me, I couldn’t accept Murdock as actually becoming the villain. He’s the guy who knows right from wrong and while fallible is still somewhere wishing he was Steve Rogers, even though on some days you know Rogers wishes he was more like Matt Murdock, haha.

I also think Matt should definitely be conflicted and dark. He’s been through a lot, and yet he’s going to wade into the darkness to punch people in the face. That takes a certain type of guy to do that.

It kinda looks like he has a chemical burn over his eyes, in these photos. That’s… quite dark, isn’t it?

It’s more realistic. That radioactive chemicals would strike the face, enough to permanently blind the eyes, and infuse him with crazy-cool powers, and yet leave the skin intact is ridiculous. I don’t think Matt Murdock works as a deformed troll-man but there should definitely be some damage, let his broken psyche show on his face.

Red glasses, though? That’s pretty classic Daredevil, even if I’m disappointed they aren’t The Fabulous Green Ones from Born Again. Does Charlie Cox look like Daredevil, to you?

I’m huge on judging artists by how they draw Matt Murdock. My favourite Murdock is Michael Lark’s – there’s just something broody and real about him there. I dig Mazzucchelli’s Murdock, but those glasses are not coming out of the 80s any time soon. I like the red tints, I’m not completely sold on the round lenses but the tint of them is fine by me.

Also, just so you know, I also really dug the way Joe Quesada drew Murdock/Daredevil as this bruiser of a man. I liked that interpretation, and I’m also superkeen on artists being allowed to interpret characters in their own style. There should be variation, it shouldn’t ‘ruin’ anything, it should be fun. I mean, Murdock is clearly not this huge guy, but to see him like that in ‘Farther’ was really refreshing.

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How do you feel about the ‘first’ costume we’ve seen, where he has the eyes covered over?

I am all for it. I know people might think The Trial of the Incredible Hulk but they also need to think of John Romita Jr’s early costume in The Man Without Fear origin mini. We’ve seen the red leather version not work on screen and we also know this take is slightly different, I think it makes sense and there’s the possibility of it being cool and fun. I also think the sneakers are a great touch in that Quesada promo art.

What early Daredevil stories could you see as fitting into the series, if this is the direction they seem to be taking? Or would you prefer they don’t touch on the original comics stories, at least for now?

The aforementioned Romita Jr/Miller mini could fit in, to some degree. But I don’t think they need to do a straight adaptation of a storyline. Again, the flick was very beholden to the Miller/Janson work and they showed that sometimes it doesn’t work – the same way Watchmen was reverential and people dogged it for that reason. Something like Batman Begins dances between a few stories, picking and choosing what will work on screen – and we have to remember that the page and the screen work narratives in different ways – and that’s how you get a good adaptation.

In saying that, I want them to do some Mike Murdock stuff soooo bad

(Note: Mike Murdock was the imaginary twin brother Matt Murdock created to throw people off the scent that he was Daredevil after Spider-Man outed him in a letter. True story. Matt dressed in outlandish ways, acted like a real tomcat, and then landed himself in this weird love triangle with Karen Page where he was two points of the triangle and spent most of the time jealous of himself. Ah, lords above praise Stan Lee and his crazy brain).

With the cast we have, we’re a way away from telling Bullseye/Elektra or Born Again – do you think Marvel should be placing seeds towards hitting grand points like the two? With Elektra, the surprise has lost impact now because the first Daredevil film played that story out. Maybe they should avoid that one?

I think with the film doing the Elektra Saga much of that storyline has lost impact. But I still think it could be done effectively, because that saga only works because you spend time attached to that character and then she’s taken away (SPOILERS!), and most movie fans understand sometimes you might see the same storytelling elements done more than once and that it is fine. I mean, look at Zack Snyder’s Krypton, that place was insanely rad even though it covers an origin we pretty much all already know anyway. But at present, the Daredevil TV show is going to be a lead season for four future seasons, so who knows how much Daredevil they’ll plan down the track and when we’d get to it.

I do think Born Again is the type of thing that would work perfectly as a major arc of a second or third season, but you’d have to tweak it because Nuke sucks (come at me haters).

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Nope, Nuke sucks, no argument there.

My guess is Marvel will place seeds for Elektra, and Bullseye will be teased at the end, the way the Joker gets teased at the end of Year One/Batman Begins. I also think they’ll plant seeds for The Punisher, but that’s just a personal kooky theory. I’d love to see Typhoid Mary brought into the show here for use later.

With Rosario Dawson now down as playing Night Nurse – strange role, considering she’s the most well-known member of the cast – do you think we’re already setting up The Defenders a little, here?

I think EVERYTHING will be pointing at that season, for sure. The bad guy in Daredevil will no doubt point, even if only tangentially, to what’s coming in The Defenders. Marvel does longform interconnected storytelling so well right now so you know all of this Netflix well is going to crossover in big and small ways. Does Kingpin connect to Hydra, or K’un L’un? It’s a crazy time to theorise.

So overall, what do you make of Marvel’s take on Daredevil so far, from the little we know? Do you come away feeling more or less excited now about the series?

I’m pretty insanely pumped. I’ve been let down before but this feels good. I trust the way House Marvel are running things now, and the cast looks good, and the tone looks right, and I believe in this series. I think we’re going to get a hardcore crime thriller with a guy in a mask dropping beatdowns but without the theatricality of Arrow and the pomp of Gotham. There was one line in the press conference that has me keen and that’s “Karen IS trouble.” This isn’t going to be Stan Lee’s romanticape book, this is going to be urban warfare. This is going to be crazy fun, and I’m all signed up for it.

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Ryan K Lindsay is a writer of and about comics. You can read his Monkeybrain comic ‘Headspace’ here, his one-shot ‘Fatherhood’ here, and his book of essays about Daredevil from Sequart here: ‘The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil’. He is on Twitter here.

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  1. […] A DEATH DEFYING DAREDEVIL DISCUSS WITH RYAN K LINDSAY […]

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  2. […] is a friend of the site, I should say, because sometimes he pops in to tell us about Daredevil, but this is worth writing about regardless of that. The series is a bit of a noir story, but one […]

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  3. […] The Spire Discusses Daredevil with Ryan K Lindsay […]

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