Sunday 8 February 2015

Casting Call: Marvel Cinematic Universe - Television

Charlie Cox
Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Daredevil; The Defenders

The Daredevil trailer is now up, and it's looking grim, gritty and dark. Seriously, it's actually hard to see what's going on in some parts. The thirteen-part series will become available on Netflix in April, and it looks exciting. Charlie Cox is an English actor best known for as the male lead in the excellent Stardust. Matt Murdock is the Daredevil, one of Marvel's most popular heroes. Blinded by a radiactive substance that also has the effect of enhancing his remaining senses, Murdock is by day a defense lawyer but by night protects the people of Hell's Kitchen from its less salubrious characters. 

Ben Affleck played Daredevil in the 2003 Fox movie, but he's off to be Batman now. Cox plays the character for this series, one of four leading up to The Defenders, which will bring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist together. It's also possible that if the series are successful, further series could be made, and Marvel have confirmed that there's the possibility of film installments.

Vincent D'Onofrio
Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin

The Kingpin is, as his name suggests, a crime boss, an old school supervillain who runs the criminal empire in Marvel's version of New York. Initially a Spider-Man villain, he then became the Daredevil's archnemesis. He has no superhuman abilities, but his sheer size makes him a threat; he is enormous and vastly strong. The late Michael Clark Duncan played the character in the Daredevil movie; Vincent D'Onofrio is a fine actor, but will always be Edgar from Men in Black to many of us. His Kingpin should eclipse that though, and I'd be surprised if he didn't reappear in Daredevil's sister series.

Eldon Henson
Foggie Nelson

Going right back to 1964's Daredevil #1, Foggy Nelson is Murdock's right hand man, his law partner and best friend. In the comics, he becomes one of the few people who know that Murdock is Daredevil. Expect him to be in the dark in the series, although he may well learn the truth over the course of the series. 

Deborah Ann Woll 
Karen Page

Also dating back to Daredevil #1, Karen Page is Matt and Foggy's legal secretary. A long-time love interest of Matt Murdock, expect there to be a love triangle between the three colleagues. An occasional sidekick to the Daredevil, Karen is another character who learns his identity. In the later, more uncompromisingly adult Daredevil storylines, things went very badly for Karen, who became addicted to heroin and began working in porn, eventually selling Murdock's identity to pay for a hit. Deborah Ann Woll's version appears in the trailer looking in a not particularly rosy state, so perhaps she's already fallen on ahrd times.

Rosario Dawson
Claire Temple

Rosario Dawson has plenty of experience with comicbook adaptations, having starred in both Sin City and the classic Josie and the Pussycats. Her turn in Daredevil will probably be more like the former than the latter. Claire Temple is a major recurring character in Marvel comics, being romantically involved with, at one time or another, Luke Cage and Bill Foster (one time Giant Man and also known as the Black Goliath). A doctor in training, it appears that the MCU version of Temple will be amalgamated with Night Nurse. In the comics, several characters have gone by the name Night Nurse, but the most significant is Linda Carter (not the one from Eastenders, nor the one who played Wonder Woman). She eventually becomes a sidekick to Dr. Strange. Expect her to make appearances throughout the Netflix stock of shows.

Bob Gunton
Leland Owlsley/The Owl

Better known as the Owl, Leland Owlsley (ah, comicbook names) is a crime boss with various birdlike abilities due to genetic alteration with a special serum, something that eventually leaves him in severely poor health. A major figure in the Marvel crime network, albeit not on the level of the Kingpin, it remains to be seen if the MCU version will share the original's preternatural abilities. Bob Gunton, of course, has been in everything, but is best know as the governor in The Shawshank Redemption.

Vondie Curtis Hall
Ben Urich

A tough, hardbitten investigative journalist, Urich is a recurring character who deduced Daredevil's identity and has a special relationship with Murdock. He also has a similar interaction with Peter Parker, who works with him on the Daily Bugle. Since both the Bugle and Spider-Man are out of bounds for the MCU, the focus will be squarely on his work with Daredevil. He was played by Joe Pantoliano in the 2003 movie, the casting of Vondie Hall displays a gratifying lack of colour-based casting for this version.

Scott Glen


Perhaps the most significant of Daredevil's allies, the mysterious sensei known only as Stick is a member of an ancient order known as the Chaste. Existing to battle the deadly ninja group called the Hand, the Chaste are responsible for training and recruiting some of the Marvel universe's most formidable warriors. Stick has abilities similar to Daredevil's, only even more refined, as well as mystical arts of telepathy and life-draining. Stick trained both Daredevil and the assassin Elektra, although the latter was kicked out of the Chaste for her vengeful ways. He also has links to Black Widow and Wolverine. He was played by the great Terence Stamp in the awful 2005 Elektra movie, while Scott Glen takes the role for the MCU series, in what is probably extended flashback sequences.

Kristen Ritter
Jessica Jones
AKA Jessica Jones; The Defenders

The second of Marvel's Netflix series is based on Brian Michael Bendis's acclaimed comic series Alias, although the name has been changed due to a certain popular TV series already using it. Like many of the characters above, she has links to Peter Parker, but is far better known for her friendship with Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) and relationship with Luke Cage. Jones was once a powerful super hero under the name Jewel, but after suffering a painful and humiliating defeat, she hung up her cape and became a private detective. Like with Alias, we can expect her time as a superhero to be explored in backstory in AKA.

Jones has become a major recurring character, and a popular one, in Marvel comics, having been involved in the Young Avengers and Mighty Avengers despite her decision not to use her powers, which include enhanced strength and flight. She has, on occasion, taken to the lycra again, either as Jewel, or under new names such as Power Woman and Knightress. She's faced the Owl, among others, but her long time enemy is the Purple Man (below). Jones eventually marries Cage and has his child, who they name Danielle, after their friend Daniel Rand - better known as Iron Fist. Oh, and she lived at Dr. Strange's place for a while. Links everywhere, so expect plenty of crossover between the series. Kristen Ritter is very much hot stuff since her role in Breaking Bad, and is generally considered an excellent choice for the role.

Rachael Taylor
Patricia Walker
AKA Jessica Jones

Tricia Walker is actually one of the oldest characters on the Marvel books. She first appeared way back in 1944, in Miss America Magazine published by Marvel's precursor, Timely Comics. Along with titles like Millie the Model, girlie strips like Patsy Walker and Patsy and her Pals ran right through Timely, Atlas and into Marvel in the 60s. In the 70s, she was brought back to become a superhero (with the earlier comics retconned as being comics withing the fiction of the Marvel universe). Taking on the costume of the Cat (aka Greer Grant, later Tigra), Walker became Hellcat, a hero who would see action with both the Avengers and the Defenders. 

The MCU version of the character is drawing on this backstory by making Tricia Walker a former child star and model under the name Patsy. She is a radio host and best friend to Jessica Jones. There's no news on her becoming a hero, but I'd be surprised if Marvel isn't looking ahead and potentially planning her becoming Hellcat in the future.

Mike Colter

Luke Cage
AKA Jessica Jones; Luke Cage; The Defenders

As mentioned above, Luke Cage - aka Power Man - is a romantic interest for Jessica Jones, and it seems that it is in this capacity that he will be introduced. However, Cage is a major superhero in his own right, and will be heading up his own series, the third or fourth of the Netflix clutch, before joining his fellow heroes in The Defenders. Originating in the 1972 title Luke Cage: Hero for Hire, Cage - birth name Carl Lucas - was falsely imprisoned, and volunteered for experimental treatment based on the supersoldier programme that created Captain America. The result gave him superhuman strength and impenetrable skin. The early comics were very 70s, designed to cash in on the Blaxploitation film genre, but this was eased off in time. Cage later co-starred with his best bud Danny Rand in Power Man and Iron Fist, so we can expect crossovers between the two series, although Rand has yet to be cast on time of writing. 

A screen version of Luke Cage has been a long time coming, with Colombia Pictures working on a film version for years (at one point Dwayne Johnson was the hot tip to star). Now it's reverted to Marvel we can expect Mike Colter to be a big player in future productions. After all, comics Cage is currently heading up the Avengers street level team, The Mighty Avengers. Oh, don't worry about his daughter. When he and Jessica Jones are both working, Squirrel Girl babysits.

David Tennant
Zebediah Kilgrave/Purple Man
AKA Jessica Jones

Now, this is casting that everyone's very excited about. Tennant is, of course, everyone's favourite, but be prepared to hate him with a passion. Zebediah Kilgrave is the villain who once defeated Jessica Jones, and he is properly evil. No, really, he's a mind-controlling rapist who gets off on making his victims commit cruel and humiliating acts. We don't know exactly what the details of their past is in AKA Jessica Jones, but the Alias comics visited some very dark territory. He's so monstrous that most other villains won't work with him. Having been chemically altered so that his pheromones allow him to control others' actions, he has brainwashed numerous women into sleeping with him and has a brood of illegitimate Purple Children. And yes, he is purple, although whether Tennant's version of the character will be remains to be seen. 

Carrie-Anne Moss

AKA Jessica Jones

No idea. Harper is apparently someone in authority who is a potential ally for Jessica Jones, but beyond that, we know nothing about her. She may be an established character under a new name, she may be entirely new. All we know is that big name Carrie-Anne Moss is playing her (well, she was a big name about ten years ago, anyway).

Luke Mitchell

Agents of SHIELD

We also don't know who Lincoln is, other than that he's a member of the Inhumans who is set to induct Skye - aka Daisy Johnson - into the world of these superpowered beings. Whether Lincoln is an established character going by another name, or someone entirely new, we don't know, so we also don't know what his powers are. The Inhumans, if you don't know, are a race of people with alien DNA that, when activated by a substance called Terrigen, endows them with a variety of amazing powers. We can expect a lot more Inhuman activity on Agents of SHIELD gearing up for 2018's Inhumans movie. This will basically allow Marvel to populate its movies and TV series with a variety of people with powers that don't require lots of explanations, without having to fall back on mutants (whose movie rights belong to Fox). 

I don't know who Luke Mitchell is either. Apparently he was in The Tomorrow People, but the only version I've watched is the nineties one.

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