The first three episodes of the Daredevil TV series have released content warnings, titles, and directors for the first three episodes. This doesn’t tell us too much about the show, but the content ratings do confirm that this show will be notably more violent than what we’re used to in the superhero genre to date. So why is that?
Frank Miller is the writer who defined Daredevil and Hell’s Kitchen. The first decade of Daredevil is marked by bright colors and fun villains. The Owl was a regular villain. The story went through a few different writers, one of which even moved him to San Fransisco and brought Black Widow in as a romantic interest. In the 80’s, however, Frank Miller took over Daredevil. Immediately, a darker tone took hold.
The first thing Miller did was introduce Elektra in one of the most famous storylines of Daredevil. He pulled no punches by making a dark environment. For the first time, Hell’s Kitchen truly was Hell on Earth. He talked about the hookers, vandals, rapists, and murderers. This darkness was celebrated by fans and has never left the Daredevil stories.
Miller also revisited the origin of Matt. He brought this darkness of his Hell’s Kitchen into the origin story, making Matt’s father a thug for “The Fixer”. He expanded on Elektra and Stick in Matt’s early life. He took the story he had built and applied it to the origin of Matt Murdock.
So what? Why do I bring this up?
Mostly because of the violent content in Daredevil.
The dark tone in the trailer for Daredevil is very reminiscent of Frank Miller. It is also very focused on the first portion of Daredevil’s story. There is no Bullseye. There is no Elektra. Instead, we have the Owl and Kingpin (Kingpin is a later villain, yes, but he is the most consistently destructive and Daredevil’s archnemesis). The emphasis on Karen Page also lends itself to the first 100 or so issues. The series as a whole appears to be based on the first decade or so of Daredevil, while maintaining the signature darkness of Frank Miller.
Miller moved on eventually to write some of the most popular Batman stories and other graphic novels, such as 300 or Sin City. His legacy in Daredevil continues. Hell’s Kitchen is still hellish. The Netflix series approaching is notably dark. So when you watch Daredevil, don’t be surprised by violence or blood. It’s part of the legacy of Miller, the man who defined Daredevil. Without him, it would be unlikely that we would have a Daredevil series at all.
My big question is how this tone may cross over to the other Defenders. Iron Fist has very little history of the darkness, but these other characters are confirmed to exist in Hell’s Kitchen alongside Daredevil. Will these characters continue along the established tone of the Kitchen, or remain truer to their comic counterparts?
This is the brief history of Frank Miller and his influence of Daredevil. He did the great stories and set the tone that we are likely to see in the show. As for how far the influence will extend across the other Defenders, only time will tell.