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One of the most im­pres­sive things about the Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse is its patch­work of gen­res. Political thrillers, pe­riod pieces, pulp sci- fi – it’s a world that can seem­ingly tell any story, so long as they’re stitched to­gether with a tone that’s fun, bright and blood­less. So yeah, you could ar­gue that it was Guardians Of The Galaxy, or even

Ant- Man, but Marvel’s great­est gam­ble was prob­a­bly last year’s Dare­devil, the dark and gritty Netflix se­ries that fea­tured a man be­ing beaten to death with a car door.

“I re­mem­ber read­ing that bit [ in the script] and think­ing, ‘ This is like Lock, Stock And Two

Smok­ing Bar­rels!” says Char­lie Cox, the English ac­tor tasked with bring­ing the Man With­out Fear to life. “It was a sur­prise. It just read dif­fer­ently, very ma­ture, very so­phis­ti­cated. Even off the page it shocked me, it shocked me to read it. But then I don’t think you can do this with other comic char­ac­ters. I think if you did it with Spi­der- Man it’d be in­valid. Whereas with Dare­devil, with the Frank Miller ’ 80s stuff, the comics them­selves are a very sim­i­lar tone to the show.”

There’s no way to know how many peo­ple ac­tu­ally watched Dare­devil ( Netflix doesn’t re­lease its rat­ings data), but it’s fair to say that, crit­i­cally, the gam­ble paid off. For al­though its tone was un­usual for Marvel, its qual­ity wasn’t. Se­ries one es­tab­lished Dare­devil as an in­tense, vi­o­lent and Wire- es­que study of or­gan­ised crime – a hall­mark of showrun­ner Steven S DeKnight, the Buffy/ An­gel writ­ing vet­eran pre­vi­ously re­spon­si­ble for the blood- soaked Spar­ta­cus.

senses work­ing over­time

It also man­aged to do what Ben Af­fleck in 2003 could not: do jus­tice to Matt Murdock – blind lawyer by day, vig­i­lante by night. In case you missed sea­son one, the story goes that Murdock was only a child when he was blinded by a toxic chem­i­cal spill, an ac­ci­dent that causes him to de­velop su­per­hu­man senses. He can hear the faintest heart­beat, feel the slight­est move­ment and, well, you prob­a­bly don’t want to know what he can smell. (“I imag­ine,” says Cox, “that when some­one re­ally lets one rip, he has to leave the room.”)

Al­though cre­ated by Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett in 1964, the Dare­devil of Netflix is very much the son of a pre- Sin City Frank Miller, who rein­vented Murdock as a lonely, tor­tured Catholic in the ’ 80s – one who weaponised his senses to pro­tect his neigh­bour­hood and avenge his father ( a boxer mur­dered by mob­sters af­ter re­fus­ing to throw a fight) but feels con­flicted about do­ing so. In­deed,

Dare­devil’s first se­ries – a slow- burn­ing,

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