The Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its fair share of success, but it’s not always top notch. Sure, getting true-to-form live-action series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones is great and all, but wouldn’t it be even better if every character made the jump to the small screen with style and grace? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In the films, characters don’t have as much time to get it right — or to sell us on the hero or villain.
Characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk and more look great in live-action, and often rival their comic book depictions, because who doesn’t love seeing their favorite superhero in real life? Sure, movie depictions don’t always blow us away (looking at you, Malekith), but we can forgive that. The Netflix series of shows have more of a challenge, because they have plenty of time to try and convince viewers. Hours are literally spent getting us used to these characters, whether it’s the emotional realism of a series like Jessica Jones or the attempted pulp stylings of Iron Fist. It’s not always a slam dunk. So let’s take a look at eight Marvel Netflix character that look better on-screen and seven that look worse.
15. BETTER: WILSON FISK
Vincent D’Onofrio’s take on the Kingpin of crime is easily one of the strongest depictions of the character — across any medium. D’Onofrio’s command of the character was layered and nuanced, and while his moral compass bordered on absolute evil, we couldn’t help but feel sorry for the plight of Wilson Fisk.
It also helped that this realistic depiction wasn’t as blown out as the comic book Kingpin. Sure, a man the size of a wall can work in the pages of a comic, but it’s harder to cast for the big screen. That being said, Fisk is absolutely menacing in the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil. A calm, collected and completely off-the-wall villain whose reign doesn’t end when he gets locked up. In fact, it looks like we’ll be seeing him come next year’s Daredevil season three.
14. WORSE: IRON FIST
You probably all saw this one coming. But in a way, Finn Jones’ portrayal of Iron Fist is much worse than his role as Danny Rand. While they are one and the same, his attempt at Iron Fist comes off as a joke, a role that’s non-committal to the history of the hero in the Marvel Universe. Everything from his physical appearance to a lack of actual power in his fists becomes a staple of the show as it makes its slow crawl to the finish.
The Defenders goes to further lengths to spice up Danny Rand, and succeeds in a couple of ways (one being his developing friendship with Luke Cage), but there’s still a lot missing. Danny Rand is an outsider, raised as a martial arts champion, who is the defender of K’un-Lun. So far, we’re not totally convinced.
13. BETTER: KILGRAVE
Not only is David Tennant’s performance as The Purple Man incredible, his character is executed almost perfectly — even going so far as to cast him in a violet light, since his comic book counterpart actually has purple skin. Tennant’s manipulative performance is a high point for not only the Netflix shows, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
And his appearance, suit and all, is menacing but deceivingly approachable, allow Kilgrave to prey on the most vulnerable of characters. His taking down is also one of the strongest in the MCU, and serves to cement Jessica Jones as a hero that can conquer her own demons. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), it looks like we’ll be seeing him in some capacity in the future, as he’s been cast in the second season of Jessica Jones.
12. WORSE: TRISH WALKER
Trish Walker’s appearances in both Jessica Jones and The Defenders were solid enough. Her character offers needed support to Jessica and allows her to stay grounded and aware of the wildness of the world. To put simply, she’s a good influence. But the depth of Trish Walker, often known as Hellcat in the Marvel Comics, is lost to the realism of the Netflix corner of the MCU.
Ok, so maybe we don’t need Trish to end up fighting demons in the hellish realm of Mephisto (actually…), but we’re not sure that the self-defense training is enough to credit the prowess of Hellcat and her ability to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Dormammu or Damon Hellstrom, not to mention running with The Thunderbolts. Plus, her costume is kind of awesome.
11. BETTER: MISTY KNIGHT
Simone Missick’s portrayal of Misty Knight in both Luke Cage and The Defenders is unmatched — and is drifting closer and closer to a direct comic book adaptation every day. Her time spent during Luke Cage offered a much-needed look into her character as a police officer and leader, not to mention a moral stake in the ground for Luke as he got caught up in taking down gangs.
In The Defenders, we see a more seasoned Misty who commands everyone from Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist to an entire police force. While we have yet to see her in action with her new bionic arm (we know it’s coming!), we’re exciting to see how Luke Cage’s second season and beyond pushes her character forward. What we really want? Netflix’s Daughters of the Dragon.
10. WORSE: DAREDEVIL
Despite a stellar depiction of Matt Murdock, the appearance of Daredevil in, well, Daredevil and The Defenders leaves a lot to be desired, but much of it stems directly from costume choice. While Matt Murdock’s initial costume is spot on, the transition to the red and black kevlar body armor isn’t so seamless. Murdock goes from being a certified ninja to a guy wearing colorful tactical gear.
With this in mind, it makes sense why the first season of Daredevil waited so long to show him in the red costume. And while the original live-action version of the costume wasn’t so great either, it was a bit closer to the Daredevil costume we know and love from the comics. If we had it our way? We say go with Charles Soule’s look from the more recent comic book series.
9. BETTER: JESSICA JONES
One of the shining stars of Netflix’s superhero catalog, not to mention its original content catalog as a whole, Jessica Jones is a fantastic character drama that brings it’s super characters into grounded situations that are tense, dark and terrifying. At the top of this is Krysten Ritter, who portayed Jessica Jones to comic book perfection, a spitting image of Brian Michael Bendis’ and Michael Gaydos’ original character.
Despite never donning her superhero costume as Jewel, Jones sports her iconic leather jacket, jeans and scarf, and more often than not has a bottle or flask or shot of something alcoholic in her hand. She fights with brute strength, not strategized martial arts. Her character arc is emotional, yet necessary, and her triumph over evil rivals some of the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, period.
8. WORSE: STICK
While Stick’s initial appearances in the first two seasons of Daredevil were pretty great, the character eventually devolves into a plot point, one that offers an annoyance and inserts an unnecessary conflict right into the center of The Defenders. No discredit to Scott Glenn, but once the emotional backstory of his character and his relationship to Matt Murdock is developed, there’s really not much else there.
But maybe there’s more to come. Despite his demise in The Defenders, Stick’s comic book counterpart has been known to appear from the dead using astral projection. On top of that, we wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a younger version of Stick in a prequel of sorts. Unfortunately, we don’t think we’ll be seeing him take part in the Contest of Champions any time soon.
7. BETTER: CLAIRE TEMPLE
Claire Temple’s Netflix origins seemed to be something of a cross between her comic book counterpart and the Marvel Comics character Night Nurse. As Marvel’s film plans for Night Nurse became more clear, Temple sort of became a new character, acting as a medical liaison for Daredevil, Luke Cage and the other street-level powers of New York City.
While she doesn’t sport a superhero costume or have any inherent powers, Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is one of the brightest highlights of the Marvel Netflix shows, making the world feel just a bit more connected and lived in. In the comics, Temple was married to Bill Foster. With him appearing in Ant-Man & The Wasp (played by Laurence Fishburne), we don’t see that thread staying true.
6. WORSE: ELEKTRA
We really wanted to be excited about Elektra Natchios’ debut in season two of Daredevil, but despite a solid enough performance from Elodie Young, the character really never lived up to her appearances in the comics. Everything from her costume to her fighting style seems like an interesting diversion from Elektra’s comic legacy, never once sporting the bandana or red arm pieces.
That aside, it would have been nice to see Elektra as more of her own person. Despite her character development in season two of Daredevil, much of it is erased as she’s used as a weapon by The Hand, kills a bunch of people and then goes totally evil because of brainwashing. But hey, maybe there’s hope for the future of Elektra Natchios.
5. BETTER: MATT MURDOCK
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock is something that a lot of us never knew we needed until we saw him in action. No, we don’t mean in action as Daredevil, but as Matt Murdock, the incredible lawyer who beats back his blindness to crush it on almost every case. Matt Murdock’s appearance in Daredevil is a spitting image of the character from the comics, just without the hair color.
Murdock’s red glasses, suit and walk are in perfect form in Daredevil, and Cox nails the role in its little details as well, whether it’s a sniff or a subtle head tilt. Unlike most heroes, we can’t help but prefer Murdock’s time as Murdock more than his time as Daredevil in the Netflix series, at least for now.
4. WORSE: BEN URICH
While Vondie Curtis-Hall played Ben Urich pretty incredibly, the actions of his character of Ben Urich left a lot to be desired from comic book fans. Ben Urich’s comic book history is long and winding, and he’s crossed paths with everyone from Spider-Woman and Peter Parker to Daredevil and Karen Page, who becomes his mentee in Daredevil.
Urich does his job well, but it’s cut awfully short when he’s killed by Wilson Fisk. While this did make somewhat sense given the plot of the show, we can’t help but feel disappointed that Urich is off the board. After all, he plays an incredibly important role as a journalist in the wider Marvel Universe. It would have been nice to see him write a piece on Spider-Man, but hey, maybe Karen Page can do that.
3. BETTER: FOGGY NELSON
Foggy Nelson might be one of the best supporting characters in all of the Netflix Marvel shows, and his roles in the first two seasons of Daredevil and the more recent The Defenders goes a long way to prove that. Elden Henson’s role as the character is a stellar modernization of Matt Murdock’s longtime partner and friend. His emotional arc is defined by his past — and Karen Page, but it never stops him from being a good friend to Matt.
In that sense, his appearance is made even better by his skills in law, which we get to see progress over the course of these shows. He goes from college stoner to moral keystone in a matter of episodes and it feels earned and important. With Nelson now working for Jessica Jones’ Jerri Hogarth, the future looks bright for Foggy.
2. WORSE: KAREN PAGE
Karen Page’s story in the first season of Daredevil was pretty darn good, as Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson save her from going down for a crime she didn’t commit. And of course, she starts out as a reason for Matt to no longer be Daredevil. Unfortunately, Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen Page changes from there, despite being incredibly well-acted.
Page becomes a mentee to Ben Urich, and eventually moves on to becoming a journalist — leading us to believe that you become a journalist via a pass the torch, Green Lantern-style changing of hands once someone dies. That aside, Page’s call for Matt to stop being Daredevil sounds like an echo by the end of the second season of Daredevil, yet continues in The Defenders, still unsuccessful.
1. BETTER: THE PUNISHER
The Punisher, despite his blood-fueled quest for revenge and reckoning, has been a character we can’t help but like in the comics. Sure, he always ends up in jail, but he steps up to the plate when he can, or at least when he thinks it’s right to. He’s been Captain America and he’s gone toe-to-toe with Deadpool, but above all else, he’s Frank Castle.
Jon Bernthal’s depiction of the character is nigh perfect. From the tattered past filled with emotional trauma, to the dramatic skill necessary to play the part, Bernthal knocks it out of the park. While it might be hard to truly sympathize with a guy that goes around killing any kind of criminal, it’s hard not to root for Frank Castle on his quest for revenge. Plus, his “costume” is superb.
Which of these do you agree or disagree with? Let us know in the comments!
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