Like every other obsessive Marvel fan who measures their life in firm pre-and-post-“Avengers” eras, I’m really looking forward to Netflix’s upcoming television series. When it comes to Marvel’s 2015 output, I might actually be more excited for those shows than I am for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I love the Avengers — after all, without them I wouldn’t be able to remember which big life events happened before or after 2012. I just have a bigger attachment to these new Netflix heroes than, well, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Y’all, just the thought of seeing a live action Misty Knight causes me to start fist pumping. But there’s one character that I’m most excited to see on the small screen, and I believe he’s the exact character that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs right now.
That character is Foggy Nelson.
Yeah, Daredevil’s buddy Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. Yeah, that chubby lawyer with the just slightly out of date taste in suits. He’s the most important character in Daredevil’s history, and yes, he’s exactly the kind of character that needs to be pushed to the forefront.
Full disclosure: I have the hots for Foggy Nelson. Yeah, I’ll admit it! I’ve spent my twenty-three years as a comic book fan watching other fans drool themselves silly over Black Cat and Psylocke, and my childhood was filled with a disproportionate amount of Lady Death and Vampirella pin-ups just because “Wizard” magazine knew their target demographic. So for once, yeah, I’m gonna flaunt my comic book crush in everyone else’s faces! Oh yeah! Foggy Nelson floats my boat in the same way Elektra and Matt Murdock float all y’all’s boats! Disclosure fully disclosed!
This matters, though, because the reason why I find Foggy Nelson so adorable — and the reason why I’m bringing this up now and not in the Hottest Comic Book Dudes piece I’m constantly threatening to write — is the exact reason why he has to be in Netflix’s “Daredevil.” He’s slightly pudgy, he wears bow ties, he’s been known to sport a mustache, he’s physically everything that comic books don’t allow super heroes — and even their supporting casts — to be. He’s not a super soldier; he snores and he’s addicted to Cheetos. Foggy Nelson is every guy that’s only half-put-together and just trying to make it. But that’s not all…
Those character traits make DD’s best bud sound like the doofy sidekicks that populate latter-day films by “SNL” alums. If Foggy was only a junk food hoarding bumbler, I’d call him a horrible stereotype of every guy out there hiding a one pack under their shirt instead of a six pack. But Foggy Nelson in the comics, specifically the one in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s incredibly capable hands, is a hero.
Foggy’s smart; he’s the one that figures out the identity of Murdock’s Machiavellian master villain. Foggy has a backbone; he repeatedly questions Daredevil’s actions, going so far as to cut him out of their law practice when he feels Daredevil’s reckless behavior is endangering them. Foggy makes heroic sacrifices; he tells Matt to take down the Sons of the Serpent, even though the hate-mongers are holding the treatment for Foggy’s cancer hostage. The heart of a hero beats beneath the vest of his discount three-piece suit.
I love Foggy just because of those acts of bravery, but when you factor in his relationship with Matt Murdock? It just sends me over my emotional edge, paddling aimlessly in a ‘ship over a tear waterfall. These two have the best, most realistic, most relatable, and most root-for-able relationship in all of comics. Honestly, the love of Matt Murdock’s life is Foggy Nelson. And not in a slash-fic way; I mean the love that defines Daredevil as a character is the non-romantic love he has for his best friend Foggy Nelson. Comics are absolutely overwhelmingly filled with male characters, but almost all of those guys are most closely tied to the women they are romantically linked to. This does an incredible disservice to female characters, as it limits them to traditional romantic roles. This also does a disservice to male characters, as it perpetuates the stereotype that bros don’t know how to be honest about their feelings with other bros. The vulnerability that comes with pure friendship has been deemed not masculine enough for pop culture men to engage in. Somewhere along the way, this patriarchal society deemed having emotionally honest friendships a “feminine” thing. Heck, the media had to invent the term “bromance” in order to allow for men to be shown having same-sex, non-romantic affection for each other. Foggy Nelson and Mutt Murdock cut through all of that business and they’re just straight up, flat-out best friends, with all of the highs and lows that go along with that. That’s why I’m excited for Foggy Nelson to be on television. That’s why I’m excited for Netflix’s Matt Murdock to have a Foggy Nelson. I’m excited to see that deep and pure of a friendship depicted on television.
Foggy is Daredevil’s Jane Foster. He’s DD’s Pepper Potts. And I’m going to tread lightly here, but — it’s about time those roles went to a guy. Okay, I feel super, super gross typing something like that, but let’s work this out. As progressive as the MCU is slowly becoming, there’s still a rigid expectation of what male characters can do. Note that this is not an example of the mythological beast called “misandry.” This is a direct result of the stereotypical roles women play in films, where only female characters are allowed to be passive and predominantly non-violent. Male supporting characters (James Rhodes, the Warriors Three, Bucky, Phil Coulson, Sam Wilson) have to be ready to fight; female supporting characters (Pepper Potts, Betty Ross, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis) have to be ready to think. And yeah, Marvel’s smartly — and rightly — put some women into the former category. Peggy Carter, Maria Hill, Sif, and Agent 13 are all glorious ass-kickers. So — where’s the male Pepper Potts?
It’s sexist against women to assume that only they can be placed in distress, and it’s also sexist to deem the traits possessed by characters like Foster and Potts as too feminine for a man to have. Foggy’s shown in Waid and Samnee’s run that he has Pepper’s backbone, Jane’s bravery, and Darcy’s attitude. Having a character like him in the MCU will show that women don’t have to be kept in that role, and it will show that a male character can handle getting the damsel in distress treatment.
I’m definitely not arguing that Foggy take the role usually held by a woman at the expense of a female character; no, Matt Murdock needs a woman in his life — but she should be more like Rhodey, a non-damsel of equal confidence to the lead hero. Assistant district attorney Kirsten McDuffie would fit that role nicely, as would hard-nosed private investigator Dakota North. Heck, throw Elektra into the mix! I just want to see “Daredevil” switch things up by giving us a major supporting male player that doesn’t fight and doesn’t look like every other character.
Is this the most you’ve ever thought about Foggy Nelson? Welcome to my brain. Casting Foggy Nelson also takes up a lot of my mental real estate, as it may be the casting I feel the most passionately about. After seeing what the New 52 and “Arrow” has done to Amanda Waller, I really fear for my chubby hero. Yeah, Foggy’s role in the MCU would be groundbreaking, but so would the casting of a not-rock-hard-bod. Previous live-action Foggy Jon Favreau appeared as Happy Hogan in all three “Iron Man” films (sidenote: even though Happy was a bigger guy with a supporting role, the movies still went out of their way to show him trying to be a tough guy — a bad tough guy, but still a tough guy), but are there any other guys his size in any of these movies? Let’s diversify the body types, MCU, for both the men and women. Casting “Mad Men’s” Rich Sommer — the most obvious choice ever — as Foggy Nelson would be a fantastic move. I’ve started the campaign. #RichIsFoggy
If you’re still wondering why I’ve spent over 1300 words rambling about a lesser-known Marvel supporting player, I highly suggest you pick up every issue of Mark Waid’s “Daredevil.” You’ll be blown away by the fantastic stories and art, but you’ll also be blown away by Mr. Franklin P. Nelson. He’s the most everyman everyman that’s ever everymanned, and I can’t wait for him to be on my television.
Now, about that Hottest Comic Book Dudes countdown…
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the comedy podcast Left Handed Radio. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).