Daredevil‘s 13 episodes all debuted on Netflix this past Friday. It’s very different from any other Marvel movies or tv shows. Certainly more violent, but also more grounded. That said, there’s no question that it takes place within the same shared universe as everything from Hulk to Agent Carter. If you haven’t seen all the episodes, you probably want to avoid spoilers. So I’ve listed any easter eggs or subtle references in chronological order. So you can read the below list up until whichever episode you’ve seen if you want to duck out without ruining anything. But overall, I’m not going to be talking about the plot or character arcs. Just the background references to other Marvel movies or mentions of stuff from the comics that you could miss if you blink.
- The opening credits always credit Daredevil as created by Stan Lee (who everyone knows about) and Bill Everett. A lot of people forget about Everett but he was known as one of the better artists in comics from the 40s through the 60s. He also created Namor, the Sub-Mariner.
- The truck that spills the chemicals which blind Matt Murdock belongs to the Rand Corporation. That’s the company that Danny Rand (aka Iron Fist) is heir to.
- The chemical barrel in the middle has the serial number “0464XXXX” which represents April, 1964 – the date that Daredevil #1 was published.
- The priest that Matt confesses to is Father Lantom. He appeared in three issues of Runaways, by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. He helped teen runaways in New York and knew Cloak and Dagger. Both the Runaways and Cloak & Dagger would be fantastic for TV.
- The black dude working with the Russians on the human trafficking is Turk Barrett. He’s long been in the Daredevil books as a small time crook that’s frequently shaken down for information but he constantly weasels his way into new gangs. He first appeared in Daredevil #69 by writers Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich and artist Gene Colan. He actually appeared in the TV movie Trial of the Incredible Hulk which had Hulk meet Daredevil.
- Trial of the Incredible Hulk was actually the first time Daredevil appeared in his black ninja outfit, which Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr. later retconned into his “year one” costume, which he uses on this tv show. The costume is very literally adapted from their miniseries The Man Without Fear.
- The gym that Matt trains at after hours is Fogwell’s Gym. This was shown in the comics in Daredevil #1 when Daredevil went after The Fixer to get revenge over his dead father.
- Our first clear reference that the show takes place in the same shared Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is everyone talking about the Battle of New York or “The Incident”. In real life, Hell’s Kitchen is now known as Chelsea and is a very affluent neighborhood. Most of the classic Daredevil stories set there are from the 60s through 80s where it was still a rough neighborhood. On the show, Hell’s Kitchen was devastated by Loki’s Chitauri army invasion in The Avengers. It’s now been 18 months since that day which has led to a complete change. Buildings are being rebuilt and there’s been plenty of time for organized crime to infiltrate the area.
- Wesley, Kingpin’s right hand man, was introduced in Daredevil #227 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli in their classic storyline, Born Again. He didn’t have a massive role in the comics (only 4 issues), because Kingpin has had many assistants over the years, but it makes sense to flesh one out on tv.
- Wesley refers to Mr. Rigoletto. In the comics, Rigoletto was the head of the mafia and Wilson Fisk worked for him as a bodyguard. Fisk eventually killed him and took over his empire, growing it even larger and becoming known as Kingpin to his subordinates.
- The bad guys that meet represent characters from the comics. Aside from Kingpin and Wesley, we also meet Leland Owlsley, the Owl of Wall Street. This is one of Daredevil’s main recurring enemies in the comics and his character did start off as a financial wizard and embezzler who turned to crime. In the comics, he spent some of his fortune on serums and weapons to become super strong and had the ability to glide. He calls himself The Owl after this and is frequently depicted as running organized crime. He continues to experiment on himself becoming more owl-like over the years with sharp teeth, talon-like nails and a bit of insanity. Nevertheless, he’s often depicted as someone who gives Daredevil a run for his money and sometimes beats him.
- Also at the meeting is Nobu. In the comics, he is known as Kagenobu Yoshioka, the man who founded the ninja assassin syndicate known as The Hand. Or maybe he just uses the name Nobu to honor the founder of the Hand. Either way, it’s a clear reference to this group. They are frequent recurring enemies for Daredevil. In the comics, they’ve been around a long time and trained Stick, Daredevil’s mentor, and Elektra, a former lover of Matt Murdock and eventually an assassin herself.
- The last member of the group who may be from the comics is Madame Gao. She bears a strong resemblance to a character from recent Iron Fist comics called Crane Mother, created by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and artist David Aja. She comes from one of the Legendary Cities of Heaven. There are several and K’un L’un, where Iron Fist was trained, is another of these cities. They are alternate dimensions which cross over with our own and feature fantastic mystical martial artists.
- We meet Claire Temple, a nurse. She is a mashup of two Marvel characters. Night Nurse is a character who patches up New York superheroes, but her name in the comics was Linda Carter. Night Nurse was the title of a 1972 Marvel comic by writer Jean Thomas about three nurses who worked the night shift. It was a medical drama/romance book. She later appeared in Daredevil volume 2, #58 by writer Brian Michael Bendis calling herself Night Nurse and helping superheroes. Linda was white. Claire Temple was actually a doctor. She was black. Claire Temple was the ex-wife of Bill Foster, also known as the growing superhero Black Goliath. She was introduced as a romantic interest for Luke Cage back in 1972 in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #2. Luke Cage is set to appear in the next Marvel Netflix series, AKA Jessica Jones and then in his own self-title show on Netflix after that.
- Claire decides to call Daredevil “Mike” since he won’t give her a real name. This is a reference to an early second identity that Daredevil created for himself in the comics. For reasons too soap-opera convoluted to explain, in issue #25 of Daredevil, Matt Murdock begins pretending to be his never-before-mentioned twin brother Mike Murdock. Writer Stan Lee kept up this bizarre charade where Matt lied to his coworkers Foggy and Karen and pretended to be two people for a year and a half of comics issues. It’s pretty much never mentioned again because it was so weird, but it’s a fun reference for long-time comics fans.
- The bar that Foggy and Karen go to, Josie’s, is a long-time hangout in the comics, although usually frequented by lowlifes like Turk, not Foggy. However, the owner, Josie, does not allow any violence in her bar. It first appeared in issue #160 back in 1979.
- The Irish boxing fixer is Roscoe Sweeney, and he was in fact known as “The Fixer” in Marvel comics. He fixed fights and was a lowlife gangster. He was created by Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Bill Everett.
- The boxing match that Matt listens to features his father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, fighting Carl “Crusher” Creel. This ties the show directly to Marvel’s other TV show, Agents of SHIELD. Creel is referred to in the match as being much younger and that’s believable. Mike Tyson won the heavyweight title at 18 years old, after all. When we see Creel on Agents of SHIELD, he’s become the superpowered villain Absorbing Man. Absorbing Man appeared in Journey Into Mystery #114 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as an enemy of Thor. But before he got powers, he was a boxer and he fought Jack Murdock in Daredevil: Yellow by Jeph Loeb (a producer on this show) and artist Tim Sale.
- Father Lantom seems to want to talk to Matt about something. There’s a good chance it’s that he knows where Matt’s absentee mother, Margaret, is. In the comics, she became a nun. We first learn this in the comics in Daredevil #229, part of the Born Again storyline.
- Reporter Ben Urich is a longtime Daredevil character who first appeared in Daredevil #158. In the comics, he works for the Daily Bugle, where Peter Parker (Spider-Man) works. But the show was made a few months before Sony and Marvel agreed to work together on the film version of Spider-Man so he works for a paper called the Bulletin on the show.
- Ben Urich refers to looking into Karen’s “past activities.” There are several mentions like this throughout the season that Karen has a shady past. I hope the show doesn’t go quite as dark but in the comics (specifically Born Again), Karen ended up doing some porn and getting into hard drugs.
- Art curator Vanessa is a character from the comics. She is introduced in 1969’s Amazing Spider-Man #70, as Wilson Fisk’s wife, by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.
- When Wilson Fisk ruins his suit fighting one of the Russians, he tells Wesley to contact Mr. Potter for a new suit. In the comics, Melvin Potter is a tailor who has mental issues that make it easy for others to manipulate him. He becomes an enforcer known as the Gladiator but with Daredevil’s help, he eventually gets the assistance he needs and reforms.
- Vanessa tells Wilson Fisk about a man who once seduced her who wore a white suit and ascot. They laugh about it but Wilson also wants to impress Vanessa. And here’s what he usually looks like in the comics, shown above.
- The news covering the devastation in Hell’s Kitchen is WHIH. They’ve appeared in Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Agents of SHIELD.
- An unseen sniper works for Wilson Fisk in this episode. We later see his bag, which leaves a playing card (see image above). There’s a good chance this refers to Daredevil’s frequent adversary Bullseye. He’s an assassin who never misses and can turn anything into a weapon, including a playing card.
- The orphanage Matt grows up in is St. Agnes. This is the same orphanage that Skye, from Agents of SHIELD, grew up in.
- Stick is Matt’s mentor who taught him how to hone his senses and how to fight. He was introduced in Daredevil #176 by Frank Miller. Stick’s mission is to stop The Hand and he trains a group he calls The Chaste to stop them. His favorite student is Stone, who is the guy Stick talks to at the end of the episode.
- The shipping container that holds “Black Sky” translates to Asano Robotics. They are a frequent enemy for Iron Man in his comics. As for whatever “Black Sky” is, which Stick says is no ordinary kid? There’s a good chance it has something to do with the Heavenly Cities mentioned above and that he’s a mystical martial arts figure from one of these realms.
- We finally see Melvin Potter, working as a tailor. The suit he’s measuring for Leland Owlsley is a more grounded version of the green suit that The Owl wears. There’s a poster in the background for movie called Revenge of the Gladiators, referring to Melvin’s character in the comics. Actor Matt Gerald plays Potter and previously played White Power Dave in the Marvel One Shot “All Hail the King” where we learn that there is a real Mandarin in the Marvel Universe and he’s mad at Trevor Slattery for pretending to be him.
- Nobu’s red ninja outfit pretty much confirms he’s part of The Hand as that’s exactly how they look in the comics. They first appeared in Daredevil #174 by Frank Miller.
- Matt finds a heroin packet that Madame Gao is selling. It has a symbol on it which is the exact same symbol that Davos, The Steel Serpent has tattooed on his chest. Steel Serpent is one of Iron Fist’s enemies and first appeared in Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #10 by Tony Isabella and Frank McLaughlin, back in 1975.
- During the flashback to Matt and Foggy’s college days, Foggy mentions “that Greek girl” that Matt used to date. That would be Elektra, Matt’s first true love who went on to be mentored by Stick and went down a darker path than Matt. She first appeared in Daredevil #168 by Frank Miller.
- In Ben Urich’s office, we can see two newspaper headlines he wrote, which cover the events of The Incredible Hulk (where Hulk and Abomination fought in Harlem) and The Avengers.
- The company that Landman/Zakk are defending is Roxxon. In the comics, they are a frequent opponent of Tony Stark/Iron Man. They’ve appeared in the MCU in Iron Man 1-3, the One Shot “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer”, Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter. They first appeared in Captain America #180 by Steve Engleheart and Sal Buscema.
- The corrupt politician that we meet, Senator Randolph Cherryh, was created by Frank Miller in Daredevil #177.
- At the fundraiser, Owlsley mentions Van Lunt. In the comics, he’s a real estate developer and also the supervillain Taurus from the Zodiac crime syndicate. You can also see he used to own the office that Foggy and Matt use because they haven’t scraped off the old name from their door yet. He first appeared in Avengers #72 by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema.
- Owlsley also says: “Make sure Richmond’s on the guest list. He won’t come, but he’ll get pissy if he isn’t invited.” Richmond is most likely Kyle Richmond, a rich playboy who eventually becomes the superhero Nighthawk. He first appeared in Avengers #71 by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. In the comics, he became a founding member of the superhero team The Defenders. But the Netflix version will share only that name, not the same members.
- We get to know Melvin Potter more in this episode. When Matt walks through his shop, we see designs for the Gladiator costume, straight out of the comics, and also a pair of metal legs. These refer to a comics villain Daredevil has gone up against many times but we almost definitely will never see in TV or film, called Stilt-Man. His powers are in fact stilts (as well as a mechanism that keeps him balanced).
- The “Betsy” that Melvin refers to is Betsy Beatty, a social worker who helps him and who he has a crush on. She first appeared in Daredevil #166 by Roger McKenzie and Frank Miller.
- Across the hall from the Nelson and Murdock office, you can pretty clearly see their neighbor Atlas Investments. Before Marvel Comics were Marvel Comics, they were known as Atlas Comics. In 2006, Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk created a superteam called Agents of Atlas that was formed back in the 1950s, which is when Marvel was known as Atlas.
Episode 13: Daredevil
- The opera song that plays while everyone is arrested is an aria from Puccini’sTurnadot, called “Nessun Dorma” which has lyrics that translate as this:
But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!
Vanish, o night!
Fade, you stars!
Fade, you stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win! I will win!
- Stan Lee does have a cameo but it’s easy to miss. He’s hanging on the wall of the police station, maybe a Captain or something.
- The artwork on the New York Bulletin is Alex Maleev’s Daredevil art from the cover of Daredevil volume 2, issue #60.