On March 18th, we’re heading back to the Devil’s playground, Hell’s Kitchen. For fans without fear, both new and old, that Friday will be the start of a binge watch that will cause many to turn a blind eye to other work or obligations they have as Netflix launches all 13 episodes of Daredevil Season 2. The first season took the streaming service by storm and Matt Murdock gained many new fans as he defeated the nefarious Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. the Kingpin). But with a new season comes new challenges and I’m here to get you ready for them. Over the next few weeks leading up to the new season’s release, I’ll be dropping more Daredevil comic history knowledge, focusing on new characters, storylines and predictions. There’s still a fight to be won on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, and with Countdown to Daredevil, you’ll know who all the players are.
So far, we’ve been looking at some pretty dark stuff: Daredevil’s encounters with the vigilante known as The Punisher, the biggest and baddest villains from Daredevil’s near 52 year history, and the deadliest assassin/love interest the Man without Fear has ever had in Elektra. That’s a lot of big, bad, scary folks that the hero of Hell’s Kitchen has had to deal with. So this week, I thought we’d go a different route and have some fun by taking a look at the worst villains ever to grace the pages of the Daredevil comic book.
It’s been a running joke for years that DD has the worst rogues gallery. It’s hard to believe when you look at the likes of Kingpin, Bullseye, The Hand and Typhoid Mary. But those are the first stringers. The majority of villains that have faced off against Daredevil could be deemed third stringers at best. Let’s take a look at some of the Worst Villains to face off with the Man without Fear.
Created By Stan Lee and Joe Orlando
First Appearance: Daredevil (Vol 1) #3
Once a successful financier and financial investor, Leland Owlsley’s career hit a dead end when the IRS exposed evidence of his tax evasion and illegal business practices. So Leland does what any self-respecting businessman would do in his position: he becomes a crime boss and subjects himself to experiments that will give him the power to fly. And to show off just how bad-ass he is, he captures Daredevil and plans to have him executed at a meeting of some of the major New York crime families. But DD breaks free and faces off against The Owl in their first epic showdown….a showdown that ends with The Owl fleeing because he knows he can’t beat Daredevil. He jumps into the river and is eventually fished out by the cops. This would mark his first major failure.
The Owl would face off against Daredevil again and again, always coming off as more of an annoyance to the vigilante than a real threat. There’s a point where Owly is so desperate that he resorts to scraping off pieces of his skin so it can be sold on the streets as the designer drug MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone). Daredevil stopped him on this occasion as well. And when he’s not getting beat on by Daredevil, he’s getting beat on by the Kingpin, or The Hood, or by any other crime boss you can think of. It’s safe to say that The Owl has to be the longest running punching bag for DD, for sure.
Season 1 of Marvel’s Daredevil showcased a more human version of The Owl, played by the phenomenal character actor Bob Gunton. The show did a great job of capturing the spinelessness of Leland Owlsley to a T.
Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan
First Appearance: Daredevil (Vol 1) #42
Jonathan Powers was a bad actor who couldn’t land anything better than being a kids t.v. show stooge who got pies thrown in his face and performed other stupid gags to make folks laugh. Even though he sucked, Powers wouldn’t give up on his dream of being a performer and learned gymnastic and tricks to add to his repertoire of talents. But try as he might, he just wasn’t good enough to make it on the stage. So he took those talents and put them to better use as a costumed criminal, complete with a bag of novelty weaponry created by the Tinkerer specially made for him. He would go on to attempt to get Foggy Nelson to resign from running for District Attorney and even staged his own murder to frame Daredevil. Never once did any of his plans ever work out.
Jester’s also a big fan of mock trials. He kidnapped Matt Murdock for the mock trial of Judge Lewis, the first judge to convict him. Another time, in a bid to take over New York, Jester planned a public trial and execution of Daredevil. The dude loves to play court. I’m surprised nobody’s ever written a story where he takes over a courtroom t.v. show like Judge Joe Brown or something. This would bring his two loves (having an audience and mock trials) together.
I’m 100% sure we will never see any version of The Jester make it’s way on the Daredevil t.v. show. There’s just no possible way.
Created by Stan Lee and Wally Wood
First Appearance: Daredevil (Vol 1) #5
Manuel Eloganto was a famous bull fighter in Spain who didn’t like that the crowds cheered for the bull instead of him. One time, a riot broke out during one of his performances and he got beat up pretty bad. So bad that he decided that he hated humanity and would turn to a life of crime to exact revenge on the unworthy spectators. That’s all the reason you needed to be a badguy back in the 60s. The first time he crossed paths with Daredevil, DD didn’t even bother with him and went and saved a falling window washer instead. That’s how much of a non-threat the Matador is.
Most of the time, Matador would end up playing second fiddle in a duo or team dynamic. Whether it was the Emissaries of Evil, Man-Bull or The Ringmaster, Matador was never the power player. There were times that he was so ineffectual as a villain that he’d help out Daredevil instead, just to spice things up I guess. On a number of occasions, Matador would end up being presumed dead. But then he’d just keep popping up. Nobody ever bothered to check for a body. This brings us back to Maddy being a non-threat.
Much like Jester, Matador is way too goofy of a character to end up on the Netflix series.
Created by Stan Lee, Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia
First Appearance: Daredevil (Vol 1) #25
Vincent Patilio was an inventor of novelty toys who tired of his job and put his talents toward robbery instead. He created a frog suit with electric coils that allowed him leap great distances. And that’s really all you need. Leap-Frog was born and was primed and ready to go head to head with ol’ Hornhead. His first big move involved kidnapping Matt Murdock……and that of course lead to his first defeat at the hands of Daredevil. Funny how that works.
Leap-Frog would go down to Daredevil many times but it would be a chance encounter with Iron Man that would send him to the slammer. When he got out, his wife would pass away from cancer, leaving him to take care of his son on his own. His son would eventually take the Leap-Frog outfit and try to make it as the superhero Frog-Man. This would be just as lackluster and embarrassing as his father’s turn as a crook. Eventually, both father and son would retire from costumed adventures.
I hope and pray every night that no one ever tries to do a live-action Leap-Frog story. Nobody needs to see that.
Created by Wally Wood
First Appearance: Daredevil (Vol 1) #8
Super-powered stilts. Really, it’s a suit of armour connected to a pair of telescopic legs that allow the wearer to shoot up to great heights. But really….it’s stilts. That’s the big power here. That’s what inventor Wilbur Day created (actually stole from designer Carl Kaxton) to become a master criminal. Things don’t always work out the way we want, however, as Stilt Man has been trounced by Daredevil, Spider-Man, The Falcon, Punisher and many more.
While there have been others who have worn the suit (even a Lady Stilt Man – another character birthed from Marvel’s love to create female counterparts for existing male characters), the greatest (or worst) story involving someone besides Day in the suit would have to be when low level thug (and Daredevil whipping boy) Turk bests Day when he’s not in the armour and steals it from him. Turk thinks now that he’s got a super suit, he can become an assassin for the Kingpin. But Kingpin refuses his offer, citing that it didn’t matter the suit or weapons, Turk would still be an idiot. Day would get his suit back by revealing a weakspot to Daredevil so DD could take out Turk for him. While still a shitty villain, this tale with Turk is very amusing.
Even though Turk is a regular on Marvel’s Daredevil, and we did see a glimpse of the Stilt Man legs in Gladiator’s workshop in season 1, there is no way in hell we’ll ever see this character on the show. Yet another stupid character that was a product of it’s era.
So there you go, some of the worst villains to ever make it into a Daredevil comic. Next week, we’ll switch back to a little more serious subject matter as we look at The Hand, the legendary ninja clan that has been a thorn in Matt Murdock’s side for far too long.
Marvel’s Daredevil, Season 2 debuts on Netflix on March 18th.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!