Charlie Cox has a helluva job these days. After last year’s buzzworthy run as Daredevil, the defender of Hell’s Kitchen, the Boardwalk Empire alum is returning to the job for a second season of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix series, which is officially live on Netflix.
But this time Cox isn’t hitting the streets alone. You don’t need super radar sense to know he’ll be joined for the second season by Marvel Comics characters The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal, and Elektra, played by Elodie Yung. Whereas in Season 1 lawyer-by-day Matt Murdock, and Ol’ Hornhead by night, tussled with classic bad guy Wilson Fisk, he now must contend with other vigilantes who operate in shades of gray.
Actually, this trifecta of heroes is not just a move toward Netflix Defenders series (which will include Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Finn Jones as the forthcoming Iron Fist), but it’s also something of a rehabilitation of characters who had previously experienced unsuccessful appearances in movies. And, for Cox, this season of Daredevil is also about fitting more comfortably, literally and figuratively, in the role of a costumed superhero.
In the following interview, Cox discusses the moral journey Matt Murdock goes on in Season 2, as well as dishing about choreographing another massive fight sequence and sharing his streets with more supers. He also offers his personal hope on what major villain he’d like to see target DD in future seasons.
How would you describe Matt’s moral journey in Season 2 as this vigilante in a world that's increasingly populated by vigilantes who don’t necessarily share his moral code?
I think when Matt Murdock initially meets Frank Castle, it's very easy for him to pigeonhole him in the same way that he did Wilson Fisk from Season 1.
What happens very quickly after that is he has to consider another possibility which is that these two people are actually cut from the same cloth. They're much more similar than they are different. And – which, of course, is immensely painful for Matt.
And you know, as the season continues and he struggles with this idea that not only is he similar to the kind of man who's causing these killings, he's also got to consider the possibility that he himself is responsible for the emergence of people like Frank Castle. So that's a pretty tough emotional journey that he has to go through.
As you began revisiting the character for the season, how would you say Matt is different from when we left him off?
Well, from the end of Season 1 to the beginning of Season 2, I think there's been about a six- month period and basically, in that time Daredevil has been functioning at his best.
Matt and Daredevil have enjoyed a period of time where everything seems to be going brilliantly. Wilson Fisk is behind bars. The crime rate has plummeted because everyone is aware of Daredevil and his work and he's been kind of keeping tabs on the city in a very efficient fashion.
What that's done to Matt's character, I think is he's grown and become more confident. He's more self-assured and I also think there's a swagger and an arrogance to him now. When I read the first episode of Season 2, at the end of the opening credit sequence it specifically said in the writing that there's a smile on his face.
We're meeting a Matt Murdock who's enjoying being Daredevil more than he ever has. And probably believes that he's nailed it. He's figured it out. He's found a happy medium. And things will only get better from here on out.
We get the Matt Murdock-Elektra storyline, which is a huge part of this character. How excited were you when you found out that Elektra would be at play this season?
Obviously, it was hard for me to know what the storyline would actually be, but I knew it was going to throw a wrench in the works in terms of Matt and Karen's romance that has been in the cards from the very beginning of the show.
I also assumed as well that it would change a lot of the fight sequences. It would mean that Matt would have some help in some of his Daredevil endeavors and I think just in terms of what the show has to offer, we needed something – we needed to throw something else into the mix in order to spice up the action sequences in Season 2.
The big action sequence in episode three, which seems to kind of want to up the ante from what we saw from the hallway scene in Season 1. Can you talk about the experience filming it, the extreme challenge, your personal approach, etc?
What was nice about doing that scene is that it was almost exactly a year on from the episode that the sequence you referenced in Season 1.
And of course, when we shot that I was very new to the show, I was very new to the character. I was still learning a lot and so I wasn’t able to do as much of it as I had wanted to.
It was only as the season progressed that I was able to kind of pick up more moves and get better at the martial arts and be able to do more of these action sequences. So it was nice that this comes a year later and by now, obviously I'm much more comfortable doing that stuff. It was really nice for me to get much more involved than I did earlier on in Season 1.
I read it in the script and I remember thinking, wow, OK, this is a tall order where obviously we're going to try and pay homage to the scene in episode two of Season 1 -- is that something we should even attempt or should we just leave it be?
There’s obviously some reservations. But I have complete trust in Phil Silvera the stunt coordinator and Chris Brewster who are just really the best in the trade of what they do. It was hard because it was the first major, major, long fight scene in the suit.
And it was very, very hot. I think we shot it in July or very early August. It was very hot in New York. The suit was very, very hot. It was probably a two and a half, three-day shoot.
I don’t know if you guys remember but it begins with me carrying Jon Bernthal. And I'm holding him, I'm carrying him over my shoulder for about a minute to a minute and a half before the scene even starts. I’ve got to tell you, that guy is heavy. He is pure muscle. So just before I'd even thrown a punch or a kick, I was already sweating through my suit. I remember that much.
But it was great. It was really, really fun. It was a huge challenge for everyone including the camera operator because most of it takes place in stairwell and that was very challenging and tricky. And it's one of my great memories of Season 2. It's probably the thing I'm most excited about.
Does the Daredevil costume affect you differently from the very basic black one you wore in Season 1?
The way that Matt Murdock, the way that Daredevil presents himself when he wore the black vigilante costume is very, very different to how he presents himself when he wears the Daredevil costume.
His objective really is to hide in the shadows. He doesn’t want to be seen and he doesn’t want to be recognized. As he begins to get a little bit of fame initially as the Man in Black, he starts to kind of enjoy that he's a little bit famous as Daredevil. He starts to enjoy the reputation that's following him around. He starts to enjoy the level of mystery around this Man in Black, the man in the mask. And then of course, what he notices is when he turns, people are waiting for him.
They're scared of him. They've heard about him. He's like this myth. He's a ghost story. And that helps him. That helps him on what he's trying to do because he meets these people who are terrified of this creature that they've heard about.
When it comes to the point where he puts on the Daredevil costume, the reason he gets that costume is two-fold. On the one hand, he needs it for protection. He goes to Melvin Potter and asks him to help him protect his vital organs basically because he's taking such a beating and he can't continue to do what he's doing in this flimsy costume.
But the other reason he puts it on is because of something Father Lantom says, which is that he talks about the devil and he's talking about the actual devil being a symbol to be feared. So if you have a symbol to be feared in society, it helps people choose the right path.
The way that Matt holds himself, the way he stands as Daredevil is very, very different to how he stood in the black costume. And that's mainly because it's almost the opposite. He's going from not wanting to be seen, from not wanting to be identified… to being seen, to being identified.
The Marvel Netflix shows now have Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher, Elektra, and Iron Fist is on the way. Are there any other characters we've yet to meet that you'd personally love to see join the shows?
I've got in trouble in the past for speculating. So I preface it all by saying I have no idea what the Netflix Marvel plans are. I have no idea if there's going to be third season. If there was one, I have no idea what characters would be involved, all that kind of stuff.
Having worked with Jon, I would love to see Punisher get his own show. I would love to see that happen. I just think that it's such a rich character and Jon embodies him in such a spectacular way.
I think the fans are going to be overwhelmed and pleased with what he brought to the character so I'd love to see the Punisher get his own 13 episodes. And if he does, I'd love to be in it. You know I'd love to be able to make an appearance.
If we are fortunate enough to continue making Daredevil series, I can't imagine doing a run of Daredevil where Bullseye doesn’t show up at some point. It would be great to have him around at some point.
Personally, if we continue to make Daredevil series, rather than have a new character every season, I'd love us to explore more the Wilson Fisk stuff. It'd be great if at some point Vincent D'Onofrio would come back for a season – there's so much Daredevil-Wilson Fisk left untold. As he kind of really came into his own, as Wilson Fisk turned into Kingpin at the end of the Season 1, I'd love to now see what that does to the Daredevil-Wilson Fisk dynamic going forward– if we were to do a Season 3 or 4, whatever.