The Marvel Netflix Universe has quietly grown into a huge offering in its own right. With the number of hours of content now rivalling those presented by their big screen counterparts, the on-going episodic nature and smaller, focused roster has resulted in a deeper understanding of the characters featured. These stories have had some of the richest narratives we’ve seen to date, and have been able to introduce elements of the characters not seen outside of the comics. Not all of these characters have been so fortunate as to have recurring roles and rich stories, though, with some characters only making brief appearances and others slinking into the shadows at the end of their respective stories.
By focusing on a smaller cast, there are those characters in the periphery who can sometimes disappear from the viewer’s mind altogether. Be they a powerful crime lord who seeks to save his city through violence or a humble metal worker who can make some of the most impressive costumes imaginable, these characters can come from out of nowhere. Even more notable are the characters these series have name dropped in their various stories, indicating the potential for future appearances or bigger stories for characters who only showed up as a cameo or for a quick appearance. We’ve taken a look at 15 of these characters sprawling the six series that compose Netflix’s chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They may not show up when the Avengers need a helping hand, but make no mistake about it: these characters are going to return when you least expect it.
15. BILLY RUSSO
Frank Castle was as surprised as anyone to discover his mission of vengeance wasn’t finished yet. He soon found that the murder of his family has more perpetrators than he initially believed, and among them was his longtime friend, Billy Russo. Russo, a fellow soldier who had served overseas with Frank, had since become a private security guard.
Eventually Frank and Russo would come to blows, with Castle choosing not to kill Russo but instead mutilate his face using a funhouse mirror. Russo survived and has already been seen in set photos for the upcoming second season of The Punisher, though it remains to be seen how big a role he’ll be playing.
14. MADAME GAO
Madame Gao has proven to be one of the most mysterious and engaging member of the Netflix MCU’s rogues gallery of villains. Gao has appeared through the series in Daredevil, Iron Fist and The Defenders, a feat accomplished by very few of the characters on the many shows, heroes or otherwise.
Gao has cheated death repeatedly, so to say that she may have died in the explosive finale of The Defenders is a heck of an understatement. Even ignoring that Murdock survived, Gao has managed to slip away from the direst of circumstances. Gao is likely slated for an Iron Fist return soon, as she was previously seen manipulating Davos and Joy Meachum against Danny.
13. LEE OWLSLEY
The appearance of Leland Owlsley in Daredevil was a first for the character. The Owl, who had long been a popular crime boss in comics continuity and even replaced the Kingpin on occasion, had very rarely appeared outside of comics. The character was a recurring force throughout the series but ultimately died in the season finale.
However, there was more than one Owlsley. Leland made reference to his never seen son, Lee, throughout the series. In interviews since the series, showrunner Steven S. DeKnight implied that Lee Owlsley could make an appearance as the more comics-accurate version of the character.
12. LEI KUNG THE THUNDERER
A lot of Danny Rand’s time in K’un-Lun was only shared through exposition in Iron Fist, with only fleeting glimpses of the mystical city. In these memories were brief appearances of Danny’s mentor, Lei Kung the Thunderer.
Lei Kung was only seen on a few rare occasions, portrayed by Hoon Lee. Though this Lei Kung the Thunderer bears no resemblance to his comic book counterpart, lacking the character’s trademark cowl, he is nonetheless presented as one of Danny’s most important mentors. With the city of K’un-Lun gone, there’s no telling what happened to Lei Kung or the other inhabitants of the city, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll see him again when Iron Fist returns.
Luke Cage has a hell of a swerve for its first season. The charismatic Cottonmouth was suddenly and brutally murdered, and the sadistic Diamondback entered the picture. Willis Stryker was actually Luke’s half-brother, who resented Luke so much that he framed him, leading to his incarceration.
Given how rarely he’s brought up in Season 2, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Diamondback survived his encounter with Luke. Despite a very public beatdown, we last saw Diamondback speaking with Noah Burstein about the prospect of receiving his own enhancements. Diamondback was a distant thought for Luke and his allies, but he could come back at any time, and potentially stronger than ever.
10. MAYNARD TIBOLDT
As Trish Walker continued to grow her ratings off her association with Jessica Jones, noted hypnotherapist Maynard Tiboldt would appear on her show to discuss the effects of trauma on powered individuals. Later, he would assist Jessica in recovering her memories through hypnotherapy.
Tiboldt’s a notable name, as in the comics he’s the villain Ringmaster. With a set of surgically altered eyes imbued with hypnotic powers, Ringmaster’s Circus of Crime would find themselves facing off against notable heroes like The Hulk or Daredevil. While it’s possible this small easter egg was just a nod for fans, the strange and bizarre world of Netflix’s MCU definitely opens the door for Ringmaster to start a crime spree.
9. THE ZODIAC CARTEL
There’s an offhand mention in Daredevil‘s 10th episode by Leland Owlsley about a man named van Lunt, who helped an official get elected with help from a “crazy astrologist.” This may have gone over the head of many a viewer, but comic book fans will have recognized Cornelius van Lunt, who in the 616 universe had the unfortunate codename Taurus to go with his bull costume.
Van Lunt was the head of the Zodiac Cartel, a network of criminal masterminds themed after Zodiac signs. They were big league for the time, coming into conflict with The Avengers or opposing Iron Man. Though this incarnation of the Zodiac has not been seen in nearly 30 years, a modern version recently appeared in Amazing Spider-Man.
8. MELVIN POTTER
Melvin Potter has so far proven to be one of Daredevil’s most important allies. After all, he created not only the armored suit he wears but the trick billy club he began using during the second season. Though Melvin has historically shown himself to be relatively unstable, he’s always been a hand that Matt can count on.
But Potter’s not been seen since Daredevil‘s second season concluded. After all, no one’s needed a suit made. When last seen, Potter seemed fine, but he was working on armor that resembles his comic book Gladiator identity. And with Matt gone, who is around to protect Melvin? Will Potter return as a misguided villain?
7. WHITE TIGER II
Blink and you’ll miss a reference to an obscure Marvel heroine in the first season of Jessica Jones. When Luke Cage attempts to hire Jessica to find a missing person, she instead tries to pawn him off on another private investigator: Angela del Toro. Many Marvel fans immediately recognized this name, as del Toro is the second White Tiger.
Debuting following the trial and death of her uncle, Hector Ayala, del Toro would take up his identity as the new White Tiger upon receiving his mystical amulets and go on to become an ally of Daredevil against The Hand. Will the Netflix MCU’s del Toro also be a crime fighter? This could have easily just been an easter egg, but the character is there now.
6. VANESSA MARIANNA
The Kingpin’s reign of terror was long contrasted by his loving relationship with Vanessa Fisk, and the Netflix wing of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is no exception. Vanessa Marianna was introduced as someone Fisk felt a connection with, an art curator who bonded with Fisk over their appreciation of several paintings.
Vanessa would come to fall for Fisk, and their desire to be together would motivate many of their actions. The two were ultimately separated by story’s end, with Vanessa being forced to flee alone with Fisk didn’t make it to their rendezvous. Vanessa hasn’t been mentioned, let alone seen since Daredevil‘s Season 1 finale, but with Fisk set to return for Season 3, she can’t be too far behind.
5. ANOTHER IRON FIST?
There was a brief glimpse into the history of the Iron Fist during Season 1, with Danny being shown footage of another, unnamed Iron Fist by Hand leader Bakuto. This Iron Fist, who fought in 1948, was given no real backstory, but we were also never told his final fate.
Could this have been a tease of Orson Randall? First debuting in 2007’s Immortal Iron Fist, Randall was a previous Iron Fist who had eluded death and was still able to use his powers, which he passed on to Danny before sacrificing himself. While this could have just been a bit of backstory, that this Iron Fist was never explicitly stated to have died means he may still be out there somewhere.
Elodie Yung was the Elektra we had all been hoping to see in the series. Lethal yet graceful, she resonated with viewers as the story of Matt and Elektra’s tortured romance played out. Like all Elektras, she met her end shortly after, killed by Hand assassin Nobu, only to be revived by the evil Alexandra.
Elektra’s resurrection proved to do more harm than good for The Hand, as she murdered Alexandra and took over the organization before being buried underneath Midland Circle when it exploded. Elektra is believed to be dead, but Matt’s survival sure points to her escaping. Given that coming back from the dead is sort of her thing, expect Elektra to return when Daredevil least expects it.
Davos, by all accounts, would be the Iron Fist if Danny Rand had never arrived in K’un-Lun. He’s every bit as capable as Danny, but without the baggage of Danny’s anger management issues and quest for revenge. Davos knows this, too. His brotherhood with Danny quickly soured, though, and Davos found himself working against the Iron Fist.
Davos’ comic book identity, Steel Serpent, has been teased since Daredevil‘s first season. The Steel Serpent symbol, branded on packets of heroin sold in Hell’s Kitchen, has always stood as a notable tease. Now Davos is being manipulated by Gao, and Danny is in Hell’s Kitchen in Matt’s absence. All signs point to an epic Iron Fist and Steel Serpent showdown for the upcoming Season 2.
Luke Cage needed a villain who took him to the next level, and John McIver was the one to do it. Better known as Bushmaster, he came out of nowhere. He baited Mariah Dillard out of her own club and pushed her to the point that she facilitated her own death, and turned Luke’s world upside down.
But Bushmaster’s abilities came at a cost, using a concoction of herbs that included nightshade to give himself enhanced abilities. But this came with a terrible price, and Bushmaster found himself near death following a fateful encounter with Cage in Harlem’s Paradise. Bushmaster fled to recover, but almost certainly still has his eyes on Harlem’s Paradise, and Luke is presently sitting on the throne.
Daredevil‘s first season was as much the tale of Wilson Fisk as it was Matt Murdock. Both men were presented as chaotic sides of the same coin, seeking only the best for Hell’s Kitchen and doing so with drastically different methods. In the end, Murdock would triumph and Fisk would be incarcerated for his various crimes.
Fisk is difficult to keep down though. Even from prison, he manipulated events to put the unstable Frank Castle in prison with him. And by the end of Season 2, it seemed as if Fisk was piecing together the real identity of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil Season 3 doesn’t yet have a release date, but Fisk has already been confirmed to be returning.
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