• Joe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #113: Kingpin


Humble importer of spices.

If you haven't watched the first two seasons of Daredevil on Netflix, do yourself a favor, block off 24 hours in the near future and get to it. I've always regarded ol' hornhead as a minor player in the Marvel Universe, a poor man's Spider-Man mixed with a poor man's Batman. I just never paid much attention to the character, and the comics I read from his series always felt repetitive and dull. The horrific Ben Affleck film version was the worst kind of superhero drivel, bland formulaic nonsense. I was skeptical of another screen version, but the episodic format of Netflix is perfect for a slow-burning, gripping narrative of an imperfect hero. I give the creators a ton of credit for envisioning a realism that isn't reliant solely on husky voices and gritty alleys.

Charlie Cox is good as Daredevil. Very good, in fact, as is most of the cast. But the instant Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk steps on screen, he relegates everyone else to afterthought. I always thought of the Kingpin as a fascinating study in power, a lurking, subtle evil and wrathful, sudden violence beneath a mannered veneer of civility. D'Onofrio breathes life into that Kingpin, wholly inhabiting the villain's looming menace with an undeniable charisma. He plays Fisk as vaguely childlike, almost autistic, apart from society, seeking to dominate that which he cannot otherwise navigate. It is a masterful performance, a fresh approach to a stale character, and the best part of an enjoyable show.

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