At the conclusion of “Daredevil’s” debut season, Matt Murdock may have finally embraced his role as the Man Without Fear. But actor Charlie Cox says after the arrival of The Punisher and Elektra in Season Two, the hero will be anything but a Man Without Doubts, holding his own vigilantism in contrast to the newcomers’ crusades.
In a wide-ranging conversation with CBR News, Cox reveals that as the pace of Daredevil’s battle to protect Hell’s Kitchen from the forces that threaten to engulf it in a tide of violence and bloodshed quickens, Murdock will find himself questioning every aspect of his alter ego’s mission. Meanwhile, the actor himself enjoys his growing personal stake in the character, a deeper appreciation of the source material and an increasing anticipation for the group dynamics of Netflix and Marvel‘s eventual “Defenders” series.
CBR News: One of the great thing about this show — as opposed to say, doing a “Daredevil” movie — is that you get a lot of storytelling room to explore this theme of vigilantism. How do you feel about the topic after doing Season Two, where you probe the fine line between Daredevil and someone like The Punisher?
Charlie Cox: I’m not just saying this: I genuinely think it would be unfair for me to answer that, because I really think the main question that the show poses this year is, “What is a hero? What makes a hero? What should a hero be to us? What are the boundaries? If you have someone heroic in your midst, what are the boundaries? What are the rules? Should there be rules?” All those kind of things. But ultimately, what is a hero?
I was to answer that question, my answer would be biased because I kind of tend to side with Matt’s thinking. But it’s undeniable the way Frank Castle thinks about. Either way Frank Castle kind of operates, what he believes is also an incredibly poignant point. It’s an incredibly compelling argument, and it makes a lot of sense.
Hopefully, what we see this year is we see Matt’s conviction be brought into question. He starts to question. By the end of Season One, beginning of Season Two, having made some sort of a peace with who he is and what he’s capable of and what his role is in society, and all those things as Daredevil, he’s now suddenly having to question that all over again, but for completely different reasons.
He has, I guess, all the beginnings of an identity crisis. He has to really consider everything that he’s doing. Is it beneficial? Or is it ultimately, because of the likes of Frank Castle’s emergence, is it actually making things worse?
One of the things I’m sure you guys had a lot of fun with in Season One was that slow build to the emergence of Daredevil in costume. This season, he’s right there — you’re in the suit from the get-go. How did that change things for you, to be fully superheroic from the start of this season?
I thought it was a really smart move from the writers, actually. I love Season One, I love the slow build. I love that kind of very suspenseful, slow journey towards even meeting Wilson Fisk, let alone coming to blows with him.
This year, there’s a couple of luxuries that you get in a second season. You don’t get to spend time in the origin story. You don’t get to meet the characters for the first time, and understand the dynamics and set the tone and all those kind of things. All that stuff’s already been done. So really, the second season you have to hit the ground running. I think you have to get straight into plot.
So the writers thought, “Right, well, if we’re going to hit the ground running, let’s really hit the ground running. Let’s engage in that fully.” So whereas Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock didn’t meet until Episode Nine of Series One, Frank Castle and Matt Murdock are coming to blow by the end of the first episode. It’s very different, pacing-wise, it’s a very, very, very different show.
I remember from our talk last season that you were very judicious about your approach to stunt work. You knew when it was time for your stunt double to come in. How was this season? Did you get more adventurous, or were you still cautious?
I think the nature of the show and the story, Matt is getting better and better by the day. He is becoming more — he’s learning, he’s becoming more courageous, and I think he’s also probably becoming more arrogant, because the longer he survives, the more he’s convinced that he’s invincible. So he’s able to do things and attempt things that he perhaps wouldn’t have done in Season One.
I guess similarly with me, I wanted to — I’m slightly better at all that stuff now. I’ve had a year’s practice. I’ve been working with a stunt team, so I wanted to do as much as I could. At the same time, I’m also aware that we’re in the process of filming a seven-month show, which I need to be healthy and around for, so there are some things that it would be stupid of me to attempt. Which is where Chris Brewster steps in — and I should say, steps in doing a 900 flip-kick back-twist, or whatever you call it.
We know that in your future is “The Defenders,” and we’ve already met Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, one of your eventual teammates. We’ve briefly met Mike Colter as Luke Cage, as well. How excited are you to get to that point, to be able to meet up with these characters that are being so well-executed and do a project with them?
I can’t wait. I think it’s going to be great. First of all, I really want to see “Luke Cage” when that comes out, because I think that’s going to be a really great show. Similarly to “Jessica,” it’s going to be unlike any superhero show we’ve ever seen before. Then, at some point obviously they’ll do “Iron Fist,” so Danny Rand will be on the scene. It’ll be cool to meet that energy and what he brings.
It’s going to be a hell of a task, I think — whoever’s chosen to show run “The Defenders,” it’s going to be a hell of a task to bring those four characters into one world, one universe and create that drama. I can’t wait to see what happens. It’s going to be great. I’m really excited.
I know you get asked a lot of different questions about possible movie appearances and cameos and such. I’m just curious, does the actor in you get intrigued by the possibilities of this sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe that you could be a part of, be it for two seconds or for a larger sequence in a Marvel movie?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I do. I don’t really ask any of those questions. It’s not really any of my business. And I don’t know how that works. I know that there have been crossovers from Marvel Television to Marvel Studios. I know that that does happen. Again, I have no idea what the politics are behind it, etc, etc, etc. But you know, I love the movies, I flock to see them when they come out. It would be great to be in one of them.
But having said that, I’m very, very happy just doing the show and doing “The Defenders.” Hopefully we get to do another season of the show. Who knows? As you say, it could be here today, gone tomorrow. Or I could be doing this in ten years’ time. All will be revealed I guess.
What can you tell me about your pride of ownership of the character of Matt Murdock and Daredevil, how you’ve come to feel about him, as you’re essentially one of his many creators now.
It’s a great question. I feel like we have found a Matt Murdock that is true to some, maybe many of the comics, but not all of them. If you read a lot of the comics over the years, Matt Murdock changes, both in terms of his image, but also in terms of his moral stance. The Matt Murdock from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s “Daredevil: Yellow” is very, very different it seems from the [Brian] Bendis-[Alex] Maleev stuff. Which is also in itself very different from Frank Miller’s “The Man Without Fear,” etc. I hope that I have — we have — found a Matt Murdock that is recognizable from some of those comics.
At the same time, I still feel like he’s evolving. He’s still learning and changing. In the first season, there was this constant kind of battle with himself about whether what he was doing was appropriate and valid, and commendable in the eyes of the Lord. This season, we meet someone who’s kind of found a bit of a swagger with it. Earlier on, he’s started to really enjoy being Daredevil. He does it with a smile on his face. He’s proud of himself and maybe even a little arrogant.
Then, very suddenly, he’s humbled. He’s humbled by Frank Castle, and he’s humbled by the suggestions that are being made by friends, and probably the public as well, about how what he’s done has opened the door for people like Frank Castle, who aren’t necessarily on very good for society. So we’re getting to see all the aspects of Matt Murdock. I love being a part of the show. I love playing the character, and I’m very proud of everything that we’ve all achieved so far. Personally, I feel like I hope it can continue for a while longer.
How enjoyable for you is playing that religious aspect, that Catholic guilt aspect of Matt, which is very fresh and different from your usual superheroes?
It just adds a really compelling conflict for the character. I just think it’s such a — the sky’s the limit with how much you can play with that. Again, we explore it a little bit this season. We explored it a lot last season. If you’re going to play a character, particularly if you’re going to play a character that runs for 26, 39 episodes, whatever it is, 50 episodes, however long you end up playing this character for, if it’s going to go on for that many hours of footage, it’s really important to have some sort of conflict, some sort of fight with yourself that never really kind of goes away. It’s always a negotiation.
I think it’s true to life. As human beings, we have that. We’re constantly argue with ourselves, we’re constantly negotiating with ourselves. Whether it be about something big or small. Shall I have the burger, or shall I have the salad? Should I go to the gym today, or can I just stay at home? Can I get up off my ass and go and help those people that asked me to help, or shall I just watch a movie? You know what I mean? We’re constantly negotiating with ourselves, and that’s part of human nature. I think if you’re a superhero, maybe the arguments that you have with yourself are slightly more kind of fundamental issues.
All thirteen episodes of “Daredevil” Season 2 arrive on Netflix, Friday, March 18.