Expectations were high when Daredevil hit Netflix last weekend, but I’m not sure anyone thought it would be one of Marvel’s greatest accomplishments. A huge part of that success involved the epic fight scenes that transcended typical TV action sequences. And the most technically impressive one of all came in just the second episode, as the black-hooded superhero faced down a line of villains for one continuous tracking shot in an apartment building’s hallway. As you may have guessed, something so complex didn’t just happen in one take. It actually took about a dozen.
That fight has earned comparisons to equally epic sequences in Oldboy and the Raid films – both of which showrunner Steven DeKnight has namechecked as influences – and has been a major source of conversation for those who binge-watched Season 1. SlashFilm caught up with star Charlie Cox, and Mr. Murdock himself shared some of the details behind that shoot.
We dedicated our whole day to it. The first half of the day was just the camera movements. And then we got into, it was, as you know, it’s one take, so we had to get everything right. Each attempt that we had at it. And it’s incredibly tricky because it’s not like a long tracking shot with two people speaking; it’s a long tracking shot with people punching. If one punch doesn’t land, it no longer works. It ceases to work as a scene. So I think we did it 12 times. I think three of them, we made it all the way through to the end. And one of them was the one in the show, which is kind of almost flawless. I mean, it’s very hard to find holes in that.
It’s beyond lunacy that the shot was put together and completed in a single day, especially considering it possibly would have taken longer had they gone with a variety of camera angles. It’s a five-minute scene, so that’s roughly an hour of legit shooting time, combined with all of the time needed in between shots to reset everything, including the broken door, the microwave, etc. Plus, the actors had to have a little bit of cool-down time, since many are in constant motion for the entire scene. I expect deafening cheers accompanied each of the three times they got through the whole shebang.
Cox also pointed out that it isn’t always him that we’re seeing on the screen, and that his stunt double Chris Brewster makes a few appearances.
I come in and I go in a door. I hide behind the door, Chris Brewster comes out, he does his bit. Then he goes into a room, I come back out, I do a bit and, you know.
Makes sense to me. See if you can figure out where those actor switches happen in the clip below.
Stunt coordinator Philip J. Silvera spoke with Observer recently and revealed not only was the shot completed in one day, but they only had a handful of days to plan it all beforehand, rather than the weeks-long planning that a feature film would probably dedicate to it. That’s professionalism at its finest.
The ball is in your court now, every other series on TV. Try and top this.