How to Make a Villain Appealing

Daredevil (Netflix)

In the Marvel world of superheroes, Villains might be smart and powerful, but rarely do they possess any true human characteristics. This is not to say the heroes are much better, just better enough (fighting for justice, and all that) so we can identify with them.

You’ll find Daredevil different. Matt/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) and villain Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) both have more dimension than you would expect in a show of this sort. And both come with strong backstories slowly dispensed as the series moves along.

First, we learn how lawyer by day, superhero by night Matt came to be blinded, of his relationship with his pugilist father, about his motivation to right wrong (mixed up with guilt about his dad’s death), and, later, how he acquired his fighting skills.

Second, and much later in the series, we discover why the desire to control Hell’s Kitchen consumes superrich, super smart, and seemingly amoral Wilson Fisk. In fact, we don’t truly understand what drives Fisk until Episode 8, “Shadows in the Glass.” The episode reveals his upbringing in all its mundane horror. As the Fisk family scenes unreel, you not only find yourself understanding the master villain, you feel weird ideas creeping into your mind, like, maybe he’s not so bad; maybe he really wants to do good, similar to what Matt wants to do. This with the full knowledge, Fisk has already caused the deaths of innumerable people. You’re not the only one, either, as you’ll see if you watch the series. (Child actor Cole Jensen plays young Fisk and should receive lots of credit for winning our compassion.)

So, if you want action and heroism but don’t get things like the Avengers and Iron Man and all the rest, Daredevil might be the action hero program for you. c/w

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