After frantically sprinting from the press to the general admission line and waiting in the queue hall for hours with the help of my Jewel (Jessica Jones’ old superhero identity) cosplaying friend Julia, I had the privilege of attending the Marvel Netflix panel about Daredevil Season 2 and Jessica Jones Season 1, which is set to premiere on November 20. The panel looked back at the first season of Daredevil while showing the first footage of the upcoming second season, and the lucky fans in the audience also had the chance to watch the first episode of Jessica Jones after a discussion with the cast and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter).
Before the panel officially started, moderator Jeph Loeb, who is Marvel’s Head of TV, trotted on stage with the Marvel Studios fanfare playing in the background with actors Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, and Mike Colter, who play Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage respectively and told a cheering crowd that “This is as close as you’ll get to seeing the Defenders for a while.” This little twist hyped up the crowd and showed that Marvel TV is as dedicated to making the world of the Netflix TV shows, which basically only happens in Hell’s Kitchen, New York as interconnected as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Loeb then thanked Netflix for allowing Marvel to have five shows on the streaming service as well as Marvel’s executives and PR people before introducing the Daredevil panel.
The Daredevil panel included Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, who drew the “Guardian Devil” arc of the Daredevil comic with Clerks director Kevin Smith, showrunners Doug Petrie (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Marco Ramirez (Orange is the New Black), and newcomers Elodie Yung (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead), who will be playing popular Marvel characters Elektra and Punisher on Daredevil Season 2. They were joined by returning cast members from last season, like Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen Page; Elden Henson, who plays the fan favorite Foggy Nelson, and Charlie Cox, who is Daredevil/Matt Murdock himself.
The introductions were followed by a sizzle reel from Daredevil Season One complete with brutal Daredevil beatdowns in both his black vigilante and classic red costume, Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) flipping tables, explosions and tense music. Then, there was a pause, and the first footage of Daredevil Season 2. There was Matt Murdock talking to his priest about his guilt, a look at a depressing funeral, and the first ever footage of the Punisher and Elektra in action. The clip showed her putting on a mask in her trademark red, and a skull, bullet, and gun flashed on the screen as the Punisher uttered a single word, “Rage!” The mini-trailer had all the pulpy grit of the first season and led to lively cheers from the audience.
Jeph Loeb began the panel discussion by asking Joe Quesada why Daredevil was such an important character to him. Quesada answered and said that he wouldn’t have become editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics or their Chief Creative Officer without him. Basically, Joe Quesada and his long time collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti were hired by Marvel to edit the Marvel Knights imprint where they put fresh coats of paint on Marvel B-listers, like Daredevil, the Inhumans, and Black Panther. The success of this imprint got him the EiC job at Marvel, and Quesada said it was phenomenal to see Daredevil come to life on the Netflix show.
Loeb asked showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez about what storytelling direction Daredevil Season 2 would take. Ramirez said that Daredevil Season 1 was a test to see if there was a place for dark, gritty superhero storytelling on TV, and since it was successful, season 2 will be even grittier with the introduction of anti-heroes/villains Elektra and Punisher. Petrie talked about how the writers loved two things: Matt Murdock and the world he inhabits. Season 1 introduced Matt Murdock the character, and Season 2 will expand his world with more darkness and emotion.
Elodie Yung said that playing Elektra was an intense, exciting experience, and when Loeb asked about her martial arts experience, she said that she was a karate black belt and got the part because she was a trained martial artist. She closed with, “Basically, I can kick your arse.”, which are fitting words for the Marvel universe’s deadliest assassin and sai wielding ninja. Loeb talked about how Jon Bernthal’s people reached out to Marvel because he was passionate about the part and asked what the Punisher meant to him. Bernthal said Punisher was an important character to him and as an inspiration to law enforcement and military personnel. He said that he had an honor and responsibility to them and the fans and would give the role his all.
Elden Henson got some extra cheers as Jeph Loeb asked him about his newfound fame playing Foggy Nelson, who is Matt Murdock’s best friend and law partner. He said he gets yelled at on the streets, and that people are angry at him for getting mad at Matt in the show even though he’s just an actor playing a character. Next, Deborah Ann Woll teased a possible Matt Murdock/Karen Page romance in Season 2 and said that Charlie Cox was one of her favorite actors to work with. Loeb’s final moderator question was to Charlie Cox, and what he’s learned playing Daredevil. At first, Cox was apprehensive of playing “the man without fear” and thought not having fear would rob the character of courage and make him uninteresting. However, in the role, he did find courage to be vulnerable in his acting of a character, who has a long, tortuous history of emotional pain in Marvel Comics.
Then, there was a short Q and A. A couple fans asked Charlie Cox what it was like to play a visually disabled character and about the research he did to get a realistic blind affect. Cox said that acting blind is challenging because emotion in acting comes from eye contact, and he can’t do that as Matt Murdock. He also talked about how the American Foundation of the Blind (AFB) gave him a special award, and how rewarding it was to be an inspiration to visually disabled people as Daredevil. For his affect, he worked with Joe Stretchay, who is associated with AFB. He did things like being blindfolded and led around by Stretchay, made a cup of tea while blind (and burned his hands) as well as playing pool. Strechay was on the set a lot.
Another fan asked about the costuming on Daredevil, and Joe Quesada talked about how the original black vigilante suit came from his own concept drawing. Costuming for the series is a collaborative process, and the red devil costume was designed by Ryan Heimderding, who has worked on Marvel films like Iron Man and the Avengers. The new costume designer for Season 2 is Joshua Shaw (X-Men: Days of Future Past). Quesada said his designs for Punisher and Elektra’s outfits will be recognizable to fans, and said the actors look great in them. The Q and A concluded with an encore presentation of the Season 2 trailer and lots of hushing from the audience so fan’s could hear the almost inaudible line of dialogue from the Punisher.
Jessica Jones Panel
Jeph Loeb began the Jessica Jones panel by thanking writer Brian Michael Bendis, interior artist Michael Gaydos, and cover artist David Mack for creating Jessica Jones in their Marvel MAX comic Alias. MAX was Marvel mature readers’ imprint, and Alias was its first title in 2001 and was also the first Marvel comic to have the word “fuck” in it. Loeb talked about how Bendis responded to a viewing of some of the episodes of Jessica Jones with “Holy shit”, an expression the lead character would be pleased with. He also said that Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) got the main role of Jessica Jones because she came in to the audition wearing a leather jacket, jeans, combat boots, and toting an attitude.
He then introduced the panelists, which included show runner Melissa Rosenberg, Erin Moriarty (True Detective), who plays the young character Hope, Eka Darville (Empire), who plays Jessica’s neighbor Malcolm, and Wil Traval (Red Widow), who plays NYPD detective Will Simpson. Loeb revealed that Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix) would be playing the role of the lawyer Jeryn Hogarth. This is a gender swapped version of Marvel character with the same name, who worked for Danny Rand’s (Iron Fist) father and even represented the X-Men’s Kitty Pryde once. They were joined by Rachael Taylor (Transformers), who plays Jessica’s best friend Trish Walker, Mike Colter (The Good Wife), who plays Luke Cage, and finally Jessica Jones herself, Krysten Ritter.
In the panel discussion, Melissa Rosenberg talked about the “pretty crazy ride” of four years of development for the Jessica Jones show and was happy with the payoff of getting it picked up by Netflix. Erin Moriarty wasn’t allowed to say much about her role of Hope, but she enjoyed working with Krysten Ritter and Carrie Ann Moss and that the show features strong women in amazing roles. Eka Darville joked about the Punisher sniping him if he gave away too much about his part, but the show went into some dark spaces and “kicks ass”. Wil Traval talked about laughing and crying about working with Rosenberg again (He had a guest role on Dexter and a recurring role on Red Widow.) and about geeking out about working in New York City for a Marvel TV show.
Carrie-Ann Moss received both a phone and in-person pitch from Melissa Rosenberg and said that the script provoked an “Oh my God.” reaction from here, which is surprising because she gets a lot of scripts. She remarked that as someone who as embodied the female warrior in pop culture (from her turn as Trinity in The Matrix trilogy) that Ritter’s Jessica Jones is on a different level as far as that is concerned. Next, Rachael Taylor talked about how she was playing Jessica’s best friend Trish Walker based on the Marvel character Patsy Walker, who used to star in romance comics in the 1940s and eventually became the superhero Hellcat in the 1976. She praised the richness of the female friendship between Jessica and Trish, and that is flawed, complicated, loving, and “real life girlfriend stuff”. She also said that no actor other than Ritter could embody Jessica Jones’ dark backstory as well as her sassiness and dark humor.
To the cries of “Luke” and “Sweet Christmas” (His catchphrase in his original series Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.), Mike Colter said the role of Luke Cage was his “new best friend”, and that he was currently filming the Luke Cage Netflix series. He said that his character is simple and real, and that his arc will get a slow build running into the very different Luke Cage show. Loeb turned the tables and asked Krysten Ritter what it was like working with David Tennant, who plays the creepy, villainous Kilgrave in the show. She said Tennant is a magical actor with great range and go from funny to scary on a dime.
There was a pause, and fans clamored for David Tennant to appear, but Loeb said that he couldn’t attend because he was doing a play in London. He showed a video instead and gave the audience what they wanted most: an extremely early look at the first episode of Jessica Jones.
The episode was definitely the darkest Marvel has gone yet and is its farthest from superhero fare yet falling in the detective/psychological thriller was filled with the cadence of the Brian Michael Bendis dialogue from the original comic and pitch black humor, but also had many scenes that were disturbing in a grounded and realistic manner. Krysten Ritter showed off her range as an actor and could go from making snarky jokes to being extremely anxious in the blink of an eye. Mike Colter was charming as Luke Cage, and David Tennant was unsettling in the few scenes he appeared in. If the other twelve episodes match the psychorealism of this pilot, it could be the best Marvel comic book adaptation. It is the mind to the pulpy thrills of Daredevil‘s body.