Since its creation back in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t really explored truly vicious violence. Sure, Iron Man and Captain America have been known to take people out on the field of battle, but they’ve all been largely bloodless encounters with filmmakers driving more focus towards stylish punches and repulsor ray blasts than the messy conclusions of these actions. As noted in my review, however, the new Marvel/Netflix series Daredevil doesn’t really follow that fold, and instead is quite willing to regularly use bloodshed and brutality to both drive tone and story, and establish personality. And there is one moment in particular from Episode 4 that will not only wind up being considered one of the most shocking scenes we’ve witnessed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but is also one of best character building moments we’ve seen as well.
The following article contains some very detailed spoilers for the fourth episode of Daredevil, and also covers material seen in the first four episodes as well. If you are not yet caught up on the show and don’t wish to know what happens, please click away to one of our other articles.
For those who haven’t quite figured it out yet (though I’m sure many of you have), the scene I am referring to is the first on-screen murder committed by Wilson Fisk a.k.a. The Kingpin – played with exquisite subtly and raw power by Vincent D’Onofrio. Much more just a shocking or hardcore moment in the series – though it certainly is that – the scene is arguably the key introduction to the true nature of the antagonist, and effectively drives home everything we need to know about him going forward. An exquisite portrait of the Kingpin character is painted in the span of just a few minutes, helping the audience both physically and emotionally understand where the character is coming from.
Picking up shortly after Wilson’s first date with Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer) gets rudely interrupted, the sequence begins with Wilson’s right hand man Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) sitting in the back seat of a black SUV with Anatoly (Gideon Emery), the Russian gangster responsible for ruining The Kingpin’s evening. Having only wanted to express his loyalty to his boss’ growing empire, Anatoly is immensely apologetic and remorseful – but Wesley notes that the past isn’t too dissimilar to a floating gas, in that it never really fully dissipates. It is at this point that the car stops, Wilson pulls Anatoly out of the vehicle, and beats him to death with his bare hands – eventually full-on decapitating the Russian with a car door, and letting his brain matter slough to the cold, wet asphalt below.
In terms of demonstrating Kingpin’s physicality, this scene isn’t exactly what you would call subtle, as Wilson Fisk is truly revealed to be an absolute monster. Anatoly is certainly no weakling, as he managed to survive prison in Russia and is clearly demonstrated to be one of the most hardcore criminals in New York City – but that really only makes it the more impressive as Kingpin throws him around like a ragdoll and throws punches that look as though they could cave in a skull. Even when the Russian does try to fight back, managing to pull out a knife during the fight, it’s an element that doesn’t even faze Wilson, and while his suit does wind up getting cut, the weapon does nothing to slow his ferocity. Kingpin is one of most physically intimidating and powerful villains of Marvel’s New York, and this epic moment entirely sums that up.
How the brutality reflects upon the character’s personality and emotions is even more fascinating, however. After all, a normal person would probably respond to an embarrassing moment during a dinner date with a few impolite words and/or (depending on the situation) a bit of yelling. That’s not who Kingpin is, however. He may be introduced on the show as a rather sensitive, fragile (albeit imposing) individual, but that is only a portion of the full picture. Both in the comics and in the show, he is a man who believes in absolute retribution: if you hurt or betray him on any level, he not only kills you, but kills everything you ever loved. Because the character is initially introduced through his relationship with Vanessa instead of directly with the crime world, viewers don’t really see this side of him off of the bat, but that just makes the bloody, brutal finale of Episode 4 all the more significant and perfect.
The Kingpin is easily one of the best villains of Marvel Comics, and when the rights to the character reverted back to the company after spending time at 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios was given the opportunity to bring a big screen version of the character to life in the right way. With Daredevil they absolutely have, and the sequence where we see him kill Anatoly is the perfect representation of that fact.