Netflix’s highly anticipated superhero show ‘Daredevil’ may spotlight Matt Murdock and his alter ego, but it also features a more famous star: the Big Apple.
The show, which starts streaming Friday, marks the first time a Marvel Studios’s production was entirely based in New York City. The cast and crew said using real locations throughout the city helped them translate the spirit of the comic from panel to screen.
“I don’t think the show would be successful without that character of New York,” says the show’s executive producer, Steven S. DeKnight. “It has a look and feel that you can’t replicate.”
In the comics, Daredevil uses his heightened senses and martial arts skills to fight gangs, the mob and the occasional alien in Hell’s Kitchen. DeKnight says he knew that the show would have to take some liberties with creating a decaying Hell’s Kitchen.
In the show, the neighborhood is on the rebound following the destruction caused in “The Avengers” movie, but producer said they avoided going to far into the fantasy elements.
“We wanted to go for a more muted tone and explore the decay of the city,” he says. “If you shoot it right, it’s absolutely beautiful in the decay.”
The show shot in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx between May and December and its stars said they had a fun time during the experience. Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Daredevil’s ally Karen Page, says she prefers acting in the real life surroundings over a back lot or green screen.
“I call it NAR — no acting required,” the Brooklyn native jokes. “When you don’t have to spend extra energy making believe of the scene, you let the elements work for you.”
Woll recalls a time when she had to film in the street and a siren went off in the background.
“Here in New York you can’t wait and you have to incorporate it into the filming,” she says. “It adds life to the scene.”
Charlie Cox, who plays the title character, says he got to know the city “more intimately” because of all of the filming.
“We went up into the Bronx some times, and there were some parts that I had never seen, never been to that I really liked,” says Cox, who also filmed “Boardwalk Empire” in Brooklyn.
The Big Apple’s star turn in the Marvel universe isn’t over. The state agreed on a $200-million deal to film the Netflix shows “Daredevil,” “AKA Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist” and “The Defenders” concurrently in the city.
The deal, which created 3,000 jobs, is part of New York’s surge in movie and television productions over the years, due to lucrative tax breaks enacted by Albany.
DeKnight encourages more filmmakers to set up their productions here and take advantage of the tax breaks and the artistic possibilities that come from the city.
“I can’t wait to come back with various other projects I’ve got floating out there,” he says.