I really like Daredevil. He may not have made my “Top 5 Marvel Heroes” list, but as I said at the end of that post, he would definitely be in the next five. To me, he is an interesting combination of Batman (i.e., normal human strength & speed; martial artist; “dark”, street-level hero) and Spider-Man (i.e., regular guy w/ regular problems; enhanced sense(s); swings around and quips while he fights). Actually, Nightwing might be a closer match at DC, though he isn’t quite as “dark” & brooding as his mentor. Of course, they all have tragic pasts, too.
When I heard about Marvel’s plans to produce a Daredevil series as part of their deal with Netflix, I was thrilled. One would think a Daredevil TV series would have been produced long ago, since he generally fights mobsters and gangsters (and their costumed henchmen). The only superpower that needs to be demonstrated with F/X on a regular basis is DD’s radar sense. Anyway, we’re finally getting it. Yay! I have my usual doubts and reservations about getting a suitably faithful adaptation. But, the news I’m hearing makes me optimistic.
Since that show is coming out in a few weeks (April 10th), I wanted to get my own fan-casting (for either a small- or big-screen Daredevil) on the record. Today, I’ll look at Daredevil himself, as well as his mysterious teacher, Stick.
Matt Murdock is Daredevil, “The Man Without Fear”. When he was 12, a selfless act resulted in his coming in direct contact with a radioactive isotope that took his sight but heightened his other senses to a superhuman degree and granted him a unique “radar sense”. Years later, when he was about to graduate law school, Matt’s boxer father, “Battlin’ Jack” Murdock, was murdered for refusing to take a dive in a fixed fight. Matt used his martial arts and acrobatic training to track down those responsible and administer some vigilante justice. It wasn’t until years later, after he had established a law career, that Matt became harshly aware of the imperfections of the criminal justice system. When not working within the system with his best friend and law partner, Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Matt works outside the system as the costumed crimefighter known as “Daredevil”.
Over the years, different writers have had different ideas of how to portray Matt/DD for the stories they wanted to tell. (Same can be said for most characters, I suppose.) Some have made him a very dark and troubled soul, consumed by personal tragedy and the harshness of the crime & corruption all around him, while others kept the character “serious” but injected him and the stories with some lighthearted humor. I prefer the latter. There have also been a number of costumes worn by DD at different times in his career, but I much prefer the “classic” all-red version (as depicted above). Physically, Matt/DD is a white guy, approximately 6′ tall, with red or reddish-blonde hair and the muscular build of a world-class gymnast/martial artist. Obviously, the hair color can be altered, but the overall build must be there. Age-wise, given that Matt had already been in practice for a while prior to becoming Daredevil, any adaptation that begins with that origin (or shortly thereafter) should star someone who is (or can pass for) late-20s to early-30s.
A couple actors I considered for Matt/DD but who are too old are Michael Vartan (6′,b.1968) of “Alias” and Matthew Fox (6’2″,b.1966) of “Lost”. I even considered Matt Bomer (5’11.5″,b.1977) of “White Collar”, but he’s also a few years too old. (How did I get two Matt(hew)s in there?) I considered Niall Matter (6′,b.1980) of “Eureka” but decided he wasn’t quite right. Possibly my favorite choice is Stephen Amell (6’1″,b.1981). He clearly has the physique and can play a somewhat brooding hero. If he wasn’t already starring in the very popular “Arrow” series, he’d be at the top of my list. That brings me to the remaining three finalists:
Currently seen on cult-hit show “Orphan Black”, Dylan Bruce (6′,b.1980) has also appeared in “Arrow”, “NCIS”, Unstoppable, and starred in the made-for-cellphones spin-off of the TV series “24”, “24: Conspiracy”. He definitely has the look and physicality needed for a believable portrayal of Matt Murdock / Daredevil. (I should add this guy to my list for Batman, too.)
I’m pretty sure I remember Patrick Heusinger (6′,b.1981) from the late, lamented “Revolution” TV series. He has appeared in many other shows, including “Castle”, “Bones”, and a couple “Law & Order” series. He will also play the titular character in the upcoming “Tin Man” TV movie. Again, he has the right build and could do a great job as Matt/DD.
You may know Luke Mitchell (6’1″,b.1985) from the recently-canceled U.S. version of “The Tomorrow People”, and he was just cast for a new role in the 2nd half of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”‘s second season. The youngest of our three candidates, Mitchell is an Aussie who also co-starred in Cryptopticon and was a recurring character in “H2O: Just Add Water”. He has proven himself up for very physical roles and would be a great choice for our fearless hero.
I opted not to go with all shirtless pics of these guys. But, do a quick Google search of your own, and you’ll see they are in great shape!
Then, of course, to stay faithful to the source material of Matt/DD’s history, we need to have “Stick” — enigmatic, blind “bum”/janitor who teaches our hero martial arts and how to use his enhanced senses better. Stick is blind, too, but trained himself to use his other senses to compensate, even developing a slightly superhuman acuteness. Stick is also a master martial artist, who Matt/DD (and readers) eventually discovers is leader of an elite order of warriors known as the Chaste. It has been a while since I read any stories with Stick, but I seem to remember that he could be rather tough on Matt, and his sense of humor was a bit acerbic. Sometimes he seems to be drawn a bit younger, but I’m pretty sure he is supposed to be in his 80s. (Though very fit and spry, of course.) He is characteristically slim, though that is not where his nickname comes from. (It is from the omnipresent staff he uses to fight with.) Marvel’s wiki page lists him as 5’9”, 135 lbs., so it’s easy to underestimate him until one sees him in action.
I definitely think any candidate for this role should at least be in his 60s, but 70s would be better. Actual martial arts moves would be done by a stunt double, but the actor should be able to “sell it” that they are a nimble, ninja master. He should be relatively slim, but I don’t think the height matters too much. Anywhere from 5’6″ to 6′ or so would be fine. Personally, I think the casting of Scott Glenn (6′,b.1941) in the upcoming Netflix series is a great one. He fits the bill. (Terence Stamp wasn’t bad in Elektra, either, but he didn’t have the characteristic gruffness.) But, I wanted to throw out a couple candidates of my own, so…
Believe it or not, the first person I came up with was Bruce Weitz (5’8″,b.1943), perhaps best known for portraying slightly-psycho Sgt. Mick Belker on ’80s cop show “Hill Street Blues”. Of course, he also has some genre experience on such shows as “The Twilight Zone”, “Highlander”, “Lois & Clark”, “The X-Files”, and voices for “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Superman”. I suppose it was his height and gruffness as Belker that made me think of him. The near-legendary Rutger Hauer (6’1″,b.1944) is known to genre fans as the synthetic “Roy Blatty” in Blade Runner. He has had many other genre roles in things like Nighthawks, Ladyhawke, The Hitcher, Blind Fury (in which he pretty much played a younger version of “Stick”), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “The 10th Kingdom”, and he can currently be seen in “True Blood”. As I was finishing this up, I came across someone else’s suggestion of Lance Henriksen (5’10.25″,b.1940) and decided I liked it enough to include it here, too. Henriksen has appeared in countless genre productions, ranging from great to terrible, including The Terminator, Aliens, Hard Target, “Millennium”, as well as several animated series, movies, and video games. I think any of these guys would make Stick a memorable character in a live-action production.
Last minute addition: How about Clint Eastwood (6’4″,b.1930)?
Next week, I’ll tackle supporting characters “Foggy” Nelson and Karen Page. (I’ll save Ben Urich for when I fan-cast for Spider-Man and family and friends.)