You don't need Daredevil's radar senses to pick up on the excitement building around the long-anticipated arrival of "Marvel's Defenders," and now that the street-level super-team is about to make its debut, Charlie Cox says that, at least for him, the wait was worth it.
In the new series, which, like its big-screen counterpart "The Avengers," unites solo superhero stars into a single fighting force, Cox's Matt Murdock finds himself in an unexpected alliance with the other three Netflix headliners, Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) to save New York from the mystical ninja death cult The Hand, led by the enigmatic Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) and her newly resurrected assassin, Murdock's deadly paramour Elektra (Elodie Yung).
With two seasons of stories already under Daredevil's belt, the Man Without Fear has a crucial part to play in the team-up, and as Cox reveals to Moviefone, the actor was more than a little invested in making sure the series lived up to the hype.
Moviefone: The anticipation has been building among the fans as each new show rolled out, but how about for you? Were you feeling an extra little jolt when you started work on this, finally getting the chance to work with the three other leads of the Netflix-Marvel shows?
Charlie Cox: Yeah. It's a funny thing, really, because I knew that this was coming when I signed the contract. In 2014, when I was signed on to do "Daredevil," I knew that they were planning on making the show, so it's been in the back of my mind for quite a while now -- me more than any of the others, I think, because I was cast first.
So it's been really exciting, and as the other shows have been made, and I've enjoyed watching them all so much, and getting to know the other guys -- but really just from passing them in corridors, in the studio and stuff like that, and never really actually spending any real time together -- and then all being thrown together to this show, it was just lovely, and such a fun bunch of people.
Even the ones of us who didn't grow up on comic books, we've kind of become fans now, because we're so invested in these characters. And so, in a way, "Defenders" was particularly enjoyable, because we got to enjoy all the real geeky fan moments and the Easter eggs.
When it came to sharing scenes with Mike and Finn and Krysten, tell me about the kinds of chemistry you found you had with each of those actors in your characters. And what was the fun of that bumping against each other?
I mean, a lot of the relationships were kind of decided for us by the writers, you know what I mean? So it was clear early on that Danny and Matt would have a kind of [sibling relationship]. Matt's kind of an older brother to Danny, and kind of takes him under his wing a little bit, and tries to mentor him. Not that he needs it per se, but maybe he's a little more hot-headed, and can be a little more irrational than Matt.
Jessica's kind of like everyone's older sister, and Matt and Jessica have a lot of really fun scenes together. That dynamic is interesting, because they don't initially like each other very much, and I think they actually learned to kind of respect and admire one another, even against their will, kind of thing. And then Luke's simple, because he's just cool, you know no one messes with him. No one's going to mess with him, so he just kind of sits back, and just is cool.
"The Defenders" really does advance the Daredevil/Matt Murdock story in particular, more than the other leads, as far as what we've been following on the "Daredevil" series. What did it mean to you to kind of know that this story, even though it was an ensemble piece, was going to affect Daredevil's storyline and his life in such a significant way?
You know, I don't think that was intentional. I actually just think that the reason for that is twofold: one, Matt's already had two seasons of his character's show, so there's already been another 13 hours of investment into his character, so we know more about him. We've learned more. We've seen him in more kind of situations. I think that does mean that when you watch "The Defenders," you bring more baggage to it than maybe other characters would.
But also, because of the way the stories came together, this story is personal for Matt. Initially, it's not personal for Jessica and Luke. They don't know who The Hand is. They've never come across an organization like that. And so Matt and Danny have to kind of explain that to them and bring them in and help them kind of get their heads around what we're dealing with. But for Matt and Danny, the story's personal, so from a character point of view, I think that that can be sometimes a little bit more engaging.
And audiences have been waiting to see what the next chapter in Matt's relationship with Elektra was going to turn out to be, based on what they know from the classic comic book story arc. Tell me about finding such a clever way to integrate that classic storyline into this "Defenders" run.
Yeah, that's an interesting one. I don't really know -- I think it divides people a little bit. I think there's some people who really enjoy what they've seen, and there are others who feel like the elements of Elektra that we love the most aren't as apparent -- at least initially aren't as apparent -- in the series.
What I liked about it from a character point of view is that Matt is usually relatively sensible and to some degree able to not let his emotions get so hold of him that he makes bad decisions, but in this case, because of everything that happened with Elektra, because of the feelings that he has towards her, because of the guilt that he feels based on what happened to her, he allows himself to believe that she might really be back from the dead, as it were. And that false belief sends him down a path that almost endangers himself and the others.
We get to explore that relationship a little bit more, but it's slightly different now, because the boundaries have changed drastically, what with her being undead.
Daredevil has historically been one of the most conflicted superheroes, and we still see that that conflict is playing out in this series. For you, what's interesting and challenging about bringing that aspect of Matt and Daredevil to life?
Look, I think I got so lucky with Matt Murdoch, especially if you're going to play a character on TV rather than a film, where you've got a couple of hours to play a character. On a TV show, you arguably will go on for season after season. I've already done thirtysomething hours of this guy. So you really need something, you need some interesting dynamics within the character in order to keep making him compelling, and of course, with Matt, there's so many.
Just the obvious ones being that he's religious. He believes in God. He's a Catholic, but at the same time, he plays God to some extent. And so I think he believes in the laws of the universe and God's law, and yet he'll go out at night and beat the sh*t out of people, because he deems their actions to be sinful. Similarly, he's a lawyer, and that is also in conflict with his nighttime activities as a masked vigilante. He believes in the law. He believes in order. He believes in the justice system, and yet he takes the law into his own hands.
And so, what these shows do pretty well, I think, is that we get to see that in action. We get to see Matt go out and be a vigilante. We get to see him be a lawyer. We get to see him in church with the priest, but then we also get to see him at home alone, and sitting with those feelings, and feeling the loneliness and the shame of that inner conflict, and that for me is what makes him a compelling character.
All of the Marvel-Netflix shows have fun playing with the superhero costume elements -- how deeply you want to lean in to that, how soon you're going to lean in to that -- and you get to have some more fun in "Defenders" by playing a Daredevil without some of the traditional suit stuff that we've now come to see. Is that more fun for you than playing it in the suit, or do you sometimes want the suit to make you feel like Daredevil?
That's a really good question -- I don't know! I really love how the suit came about in the "Daredevil" seasons. The storyline that led towards the suit, for me, justified it, and I need that. If I engage in a superhero TV show or film or whatever, that's the one hurdle that I need to get over in order to really love it. I don't like it when the character puts on a suit just because they want to feel cool or something like that.
It needs to make logical sense to me, and I thought they did it really well in Season 1, whereby it happened after 12 hours of footage, and it came about for two reasons. One, because protection was needed. He needed a material that was going to protect his body better, because he was being so beat up.
But also because his friend, the priest, had mentioned this alter ego being something like a symbol, something that was consistent and something that wasn't trying to hide in the shadows, but was actually very visible -- and therefore, would help hopefully kind of encourage petty criminals to beware of their behavior kind of thing.
Going into "Defenders," I don't think you can have Matt just show up in a Daredevil suit straight away. There's almost too many jokes to be made -- I think you'd have to do an entire episode where Jessica Jones and Luke Cage make funny jokes about it, you know? So they had to find a way of tying it in so that it emerged organically, with a few jokes, obviously, but it has to come at a time where it makes sense. And I feel they handled that really well, yeah.
This show was modeled in the vein of the way that the Marvel movies led to "The Avengers," but that was always a step-by-step process, whereas you guys knew straightaway this was going to happen. Tell me about the feeling now that you accomplished that big goal. What kind of satisfaction have you walked away knowing that you got there and were all able to, all four of you, get together and pull this off?
I mean, we'll see when it comes out! We'll see what the fan reaction is, but it feels like a cool accomplishment to have done these four shows, and made this kind of team-up version of it. It feels like it's a nice cherry on top. Kind of a full circle situation.
I get nervous, because I really hope the fans appreciate it. I hope they like it. I know how important these characters are to people, and so it's tremendous fun that we have making the show, but it's also really important that the fans feel like we did the characters justice.
I feel like we did a great job. We did our best. We tried to make a really fun, interesting, different show that was different from the individual shows, so now we just cross our fingers and hope for the best.