Even though it's been almost two years since Daredevil (and the rest of Marvel's live-action shows on Netflix) were cancelled, many fans are still hoping that The Man Without Fear, his friends and enemies will return to the small screen. The series developed such a devoted following, and fans were so shocked at the cancellation after Season 3, that many are still looking to unpack the show and its characters, in the absence of new episodes. Actor Peter Shinkoda, who played villain Nobu on Daredevil, recently spoke about his time on the series, and revealed a shocking reason why we never saw backstories for some characters.
The Save Daredevil campaign recently did a livestream interview with Peter Shinkoda, as well as actors Geoffrey Cantor and Tommy Walker (who played Ellison and Francis, respectively), to talk about their time on working on Daredevil. After a brief chat about comics and each actors' history with the medium in general, the conversation turned more serious when a fan question came in for Shinkoda, about whether or not he'd come up with a backstory for why Nobu had joined The Hand.
After Shinkoda said that did his comic research, and surmised that Nobu had originally been a man with integrity and good intentions, who was deceived and then went on a vengeance trip which brought him to the ancient, powerful and criminally-minded Ninja clan, and eventually to becoming one of its lieutenants. But, after a brief pause, he then added that the writers had told him about a planned storyline for Nobu, which got cut. And, Shinkoda revealed the reason he was told for why we never got to see that backstory for Nobu, and some other characters, on screen:
I'm kind of reluctant to say this, but I'm going to take it and I apologize to Tommy and Geoff that I'm going to take this moment, but I have to because… because I just have to. I'm not really into protecting certain things anymore, but Jeph Loeb told the writers room not to write for Nobu and Gao. And this was reiterated many times by many of the writers and showrunners — that nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people. There were three previous Marvel movies, a trilogy called Blade that was made where Wesley Snipes kills 200 Asians each movie because nobody gives a shit, so don't write about Nobu and Gao. So they were forced to put their storyline down and drop it.
Eesh. Not a good look for Jeph Loeb or Marvel, at all. While Loeb and Marvel have yet to respond to Peter Shinkoda's allegations, the former head of Marvel Television has come under fire before for dismissing Asian representation and generally being tone-deaf when it comes to how those cultures are shown in film and TV. Honestly, to say that the possibility that this happened in the writer's room of Daredevil is "shocking" is a bit naive, because we should all know by now that things like this do happen all too often in every industry, including entertainment.
Peter Shinkoda went on to say that the writers explained the story they were planning for Nobu and Gao (one of the five leaders and founders of The Hand), and were also "very apologetic" for the backstory being scrapped, "but their hands were tied." He then gave some details on what fans would have seen, had Nobu's story not been cut:
It was a very interesting storyline about having to go [to New York] under the guise of getting some kind of transplant for medical reasons and a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy was fudged so that Nobu could get into the country and then carry out his Black Sky plans. But all that backstory was dropped, and the writers that told me they were reluctant to do it because they were so stoked about the storyline, but they were prevented. So I had to concoct this other storyline and then rock that material that I was given. Regretfully, I didn't get to ever explore that.
While it's unfortunate (which is putting it mildly) that we never got to see the plans that the writers had for Nobu and Gao, at least it's a good sign that the writers for Daredevil were thinking along those lines and had sought to expand those characters. It's also good to hear that they were very sorry for not being able to get that story up on the screen.
It will be interesting to see if anyone at Marvel speaks out about what Peter Shinkoda had to say, but at least he was still able to make a grand impact as Nobu on Daredevil, even without getting a larger story to play.