Marvel have officially announced the casting of Sin City, Men In Black II and Death Proof star Rosario Dawson for their Netflix Daredevil show, opposite Charlie Cox’s Man Without Fear.
In an official statement, the studio described her (unnamed) character as “a dedicated young woman whose quest to heal the wounds of Hell’s Kitchen brings Matt Murdock unexpectedly crashing into her life, while her own journey forever alters the course of his battle against the injustices of this broken city.”
Marvel’s head of television Jeph Loeb said, “Rosario Dawson is one the most charismatic, talented and powerful actresses in Hollywood, so she was always at the top of our list for Marvel’s Daredevil. Her role in the series is absolutely critical to Matt Murdock’s journey to become the hero we know as Daredevil.”
Fans have been quick to cry Elektra, Daredevil’s classic love interest from the Frank Miller era of the book, depicted by Jennifer Garner in the not-as-bad-as-you-think 2003 Daredevil movie.
Arguments as to why she couldn’t possibly be playing the assassin antihero are twofold – the fact that colour-blind casting hits a wall when you’re dealing with a character who is explicitly Greek, and Marvel’s description of a “dedicated young woman” who is healing “wounds” doesn’t exactly fit the bill.
Strangely, the explicit Greek identity of the comic-book Elektra Natchios that travels fairly badly into the world of live action. In comics it’s perfectly appropriate to have a young woman called Elektra who loses her father, swearing vengeance she then becomes a deadly assassin.
It’s a neat little callback to her heritage. In Greek mythology Electra was the daughter of King Agamemnon, who is murdered on his return from the Trojan War and Electra sweats revenge. Neat, but in live action it becomes pretty goofy.
The big lesson of Arrow and Batman Begins is very much that if you meet the viewer half-way with trying to make some of this shit appear naturalistic, then they will meet you half-way with their suspension of disbelief.
Having someone actually born Elektra and have her father murdered is about as easy to stomach as the idea that anyone could be even remotely surprised when Victor von Doom turns out to be a maniac.
No, in this case, it would be easier to stomach of Elektra was a name she took when she swore vengeance – in which case it doesn’t particularly matter whether or not she’s Greek. (Although, apropos of nothing, Dawson did play the mythological Greek queen of the underworld in Percy Jackson).
The real case against Rosario Dawson being Elektra is simply that there’s no evidence she is. All we know is that she’s out to “heal the wounds of Hell’s Kitchen,” which could well mean she’s a clever rewriting of Elektra, but we’d much prefer to see the dominant characters in the Daredevil myth teased out a bit longer.
It’s just a gut feeling, but Karen Page might fit the bill better.
Although introduced as a typical Silver Age object of desire, a demure legal secretary who constantly needs to be rescued and is constantly humiliated by the contrived attempts to keep Daredevil’s secret identity a secret – the panel above, for instance, comes from the era when Matt Murdoch is pretending to be his own twin brother…
Despite those inglorious beginning, Karen Page became much more proactive in Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr’s post-Miller run where she starts a pre-bono drug and legal clinic in Hell’s Kitchen.
Now that definitely sounds like the actions of a “dedicated young woman” on a “quest to heal the wounds of Hell’s Kitchen.”
Daredevil will air on Netflix in 2015. Find out more about the comics that inspired the series with new digital magazine Uncanny Comics. You can buy Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli for £10.34 at Amazon.co.uk.