What happens four very different heroes come together to fight evil? That’s the question that will be answered when the Defenders assemble on Netflix. The show brings together the reluctant vigilantees- including the only one (so far) to wear a superhero costume- to face off against their most dangerous foes yet. Matt Murdock is the only Defender, not just with a costume, but with a secret identity as Daredevil. Charlie Cox sat down with us at San Diego Comic Con to discuss Matt’s trust issues and his emotional state at the start of the series.
The end of the second season of Daredevil (spoiler alert), sees a devastated Matt mourning the loss of Elektra (Elodie Yung) at the hands of Nobu (Peter Shinkoda). Says Cox, “Everything failed. Matt failed. And the consequences are devastating…He has to completely reevaluate everything he believes and everything that he does. And I don’t think he has any interest really in being Daredevil anymore.” But Cox also notes that he can’t quite give up his alter ego that easily- especially if his city is in danger.
“Of course what we know about Matt is that (being Daredevil) is like a drug to him…Because really Matt Murdock is the lie of Daredevil. He pretends to be blind, he pretends to use a cane, he pretends to find things with his hands- he’s living a lie as Matt Murdock…Daredevil is the authentic man.”
The conflicted nature of Matt Murdock is one of the key parts of the character in both the comics and the series. Matt struggles with his powers and what it means to be both a hero and a good man. It is also what challenges Cox as an actor. “My favorite moments are when we do(a) fight sequence and Matt goes home and sits with those feelings. And thinks about what he’s done and he feels the shame and aloneness of being a superhero.” It is these traits that best grounds and humanizes his character.
Facing His Demons
In the beginning of The Defenders, Matt is in a dark place. This is complicated by Elektra’s return. In the second trailer, Matt is seen confronting the woman he watched die. “That small glimmer of hope is really tempting. Not just because I think he loves her, but because of the alleviation of the guilt that he feels would just be the answer to all of his questions, his problems in that moment in time,” says Cox. How Matt deals with his lover’s return and her role as one of the show’s antagonists looks to play a major part in his arc.
But what does this mean for Matt’s relationship with the rest of the Defenders? As Cox puts it:
“I think Matt is incredibly cynical. I think he barely trusts himself as someone who has abilities and therefore it’s impossible for him to trust anyone else with that kind of power. It’s terrifying to him… I think the real fun of the show is the answer to that question which is: what is his opinion of the other three and how does that opinion change.”
Keeping His Secret
Trust is also a big deal when you have a secret identity and three new people in your life. Cox talked about the numerous conversations he and executive producer/writer Marco Ramirez had about whether or not Matt should tell the other Defenders who he really is. “He has a secret identity for a very clear, particular reason which is that he believes that it protects the people that he loves…As soon as (someone he doesn’t trust) knows, what does that mean?” It will be interesting to see whether Matt can learn to open himself up to other people outside of Foggy (Elden Henson) and Karen (Deborah Ann Woll).
It isn’t all darkness and distrust for our heroes though. Cox spoken about the lighthearted tone of The Defenders compared with his own series.
“You can’t put someone like Matt Murdock who wears a superhero costume in a room with Jessica Jones and not make jokes…And Marco did a wonderful job treading that line where we want it to feel the stakes are high, we wanted to feel serious and sinister and dark- but we’ve also got to make jokes about the guy wearing a red pantsuit.”
These are the moments fans are looking forward to the most in The Defenders. And judging from the trailers, the banter already looks to be some of the best parts of the series.
The Defenders comes to Netflix August 18th at midnight PST.