Summer’s long-awaited street-level superhero show “The Defenders” has finally landed on Netflix, and Charlie Cox says the stakes are higher than ever for his character Matt Murdoch/Daredevil and the other street heroes of New York: Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter).
“We’re now face to face with not just the warriors of [The Hand],” Cox told TheWrap in a phone interview. “I think the stakes are higher because we’re now encountering the very heads of these organizations — as we try to say, without laughing, the ‘five fingers of The Hand.’ And of course, [Sigourney Weaver’s] Alexandra is the top of that pyramid.”
Like Danny Rand, Cox’s character will have to accept that he can’t fight The Hand alone. Both Iron Fist and Daredevil encounter members of The Hand in their individual shows. “We start from a place of complete skepticism and cynicism,” Cox said. “From [Matt Murdoch/Daredevil’s] point of view, he has no interest in revealing his identity, no interest in working with these people. But he very quickly is put in a situation where he not only sees their competence, but he also sees the efficacy with which they can work as a team.”
Cox added: “I don’t think any of them would want to label it that, apart from maybe with the exception of Danny Rand. I think [Matt] already knows the grave danger they are in — how powerful The Hand can be.”
Although Matt Murdoch and Danny Rand see the threat of The Hand in a similar way, Cox told TheWrap that of the other three Defenders, Matt has the closest bond with Jessica Jones. “I think their relationship is a really fun one that was some of my favorite stuff to shoot,” he said. “Matt and Jessica initially just — don’t think that they have anything in common. They don’t imagine that they’ll like each other very much. They’re both stubborn, they don’t really have any interest in being friends with people or working together. They’re not collaborative in that way.”
Against their better judgement, he said, “They end up kind of liking each other and — not that they’d ever admit it — but they end up respecting each other.”
Any chance this new connection means we’ll see Matt make a cameo on the upcoming Season 2 of “Jessica Jones?” “I don’t think so,” Cox said with a laugh. “No, sadly not. I would love to, but as far as I know, that’s not happening.”
In what could be another disappointment to fans, Cox said that there’s little chance we could see an Avengers-Defenders meet up any time soon. “I don’t think so. No. I mean, it’d be great if that somehow did happen, it doesn’t seem to me like that’s part of the plan,” Cox said. “Even if we were invited, I don’t know how we would do that [with our busy schedules].”
Back to “The Defenders”: Cox said that the show picks up for Matt about six months after the end of “Daredevil” Season 2, and “he’s still left with those failures and those feelings and the fact that he’s alienated all of the people that he loves.”
“Everything has set itself up now in the previous two seasons of “Daredevil” that I think [Matt]’s finally ready to learn the lesson that he by himself is not always enough,” Cox said. “And that he can’t be that stubborn and close-minded, that it’s ok to accept help and that help can actually be very beneficial.”
“I think that’s the great journey for Matt on ‘The Defenders,'” he said.
Plus, there’s heightened drama for Matt’s love life, as his old flame Elektra (Elodie Yung) comes back from the dead as the Black Sky, to be used as Alexandra’s weapon.
“So much of these Marvel Netflix shows have been grounded in reality, that’s kind of been the blueprint for them is that we wanted to make superhero shows that felt very real and very natural and you know, gritty and identifiable and all that stuff,” Cox said. But in “The Defenders,” a new mystical element arises in that we see Alexandra bring Elektra back from the dead.
“So Matt knows that this is possible,” Cox said of Elektra’s return. “I still think it needs to be played in a way that is as shocking and horrifying and confusing almost as it would be in real life.”
“From Matt’s point of view, on the one hand it’s very very overwhelming, confusing and hard to kind of compute,” he continued. “But a secondary reaction to that is, of course, the emotional one. Which is, you know, is this her? Is she back? How did that happen? But more importantly, if it is her, then does that alleviate all of the shame and guilt that he’s been feeling?”
At the end of “Daredevil” Season 2 (spoiler!) Elektra dies, and Matt “completely changed his life based on this horrible tragedy and failure that he feels about her death.”
“Normally he’s quite sensible and, you know, level-headed. But he allows himself to believe — beyond the point where it seems even rational anymore –that she might be the same Elektra that he knew and loved,” Cox said. “And I think he allows himself to believe that for a long time because it would be… so nice to forgive himself, and just to have her back in some way.”
Meeting the other three Defenders, and fighting alongside them, might help Matt overcome some of his pain. “From an emotional point of view, it’s a big deal for him,” Cox said. “I think it’s a big step in the right direction and I hope that going forward he will carry that with him, he will have learned that lesson, and he won’t go back to the stubborn, lone-wolf kind of Daredevil that we’ve seen in the past.”