Daredevil's Darker Tone Called For A Different Kind Of Superhero Costume

When bringing any superhero into live-action, there's always the question of how much inspiration movies or TV will draw from the costumes in the comics. While purists often struggle with major alterations to a hero's look, the truth is not everything translates well from page to screen. Daredevil is no exception to this. The typically red-clad hero actually debuted in a yellow costume in 1964, created by Bill Everett and Stan Lee. It only took six more issues until Matt Murdoch donned the red suit that would become synonymous with his name. "Daredevil: Yellow," the excellent 2001 miniseries from the late Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb actually gave a lovely explanation for Matt's early yellow design, explaining that he made the costume in tribute to his father, Battlin' Jack Murdoch, using his dad's old boxing gear.

When Netflix's "Daredevil" series was announced, fans wondered if the show would give Matt his original yellow costume. Instead, the show went in another direction entirely, largely pulling from Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.'s seminal 1993 story, "Daredevil: The Man Without Fear" for the black-masked look he wore when starting out. While Daredevil did debut his trademark red suit at the end of season 1, it wasn't exactly universally beloved, with fans being somewhat split. For most, it was a definite improvement over the 2003 film, though one could say that about any aspect of the Netflix series.

One person who's a fan of the TV show costume is Daredevil himself, Charlie Cox. While the actor didn't find the outfit all that comfortable at first, he did feel it suited the tone of the series. What were Cox's feelings on his superhero attire?

'Yeah, I'll wear that'

Cox discussed his time as Daredevil with Collider and revealed some specifics about his feelings about the superhero suit. The actor said:

"When I read a script now, or when I saw the suit, what I liked about it was that it was bold, and it was specific, and it wasn't – it wouldn't have been right to do a bright red suit for our show. It would have felt weird. I felt you had to have it – you know, after that first season felt so grounded, I remember thinking, it's hard for me to imagine a person in a costume in this show. So when it came out I was thrilled. Because I believed that that guy, who'd gone around in a black mask and just a black training top and black cargo pants, I believe that that guy – I don't believe that that guy would go and put on the suit that Ben Affleck wore in the film. I mean, he wouldn't have been able to do that, that would have been too much for him. But I believe that he could look at the suit that Melvin Potter quote-unquote 'created', and because of the armor, because of the protection and because of the need for that, and because of what Father Lantom told him about being a symbol that could be feared, I believe that I can see him saying, 'Yeah I'll wear that. I'll put that on.' And so that's what I liked about it."

It's understandable that the Netflix series couldn't just give Matt his comics costume. Incredible artists like Romita Jr, Miller, Alex Maleev, Bill Sienkiewicz, and so many others all excelled at making Daredevil look formidable in what is probably red spandex reinforced by some Reed Richards super science, but let's face it, Cox would've looked ridiculous.

Not perfect but a definite improvement

Charlie Cox mentioned the suit Ben Affleck wore in the 2003 movie and it makes sense that the actor would want a very different look for his own costume. Like everything about that terrible film, the suit worn by Affleck in "Daredevil" is not remembered fondly. Cox probably said it best when he exclaimed, "The suit sucks!" (via People). The actor did praise Affleck's version of Matt Murdoch, but didn't hold back when sharing his negative feelings on the film itself. Affleck famously wasn't a fan of the movie either. He explained to Entertainment Weekly (via People) that "Daredevil" was made before Hollywood realized you could make superhero movies that were actually good, saying, "There was a cynical sense of 'Put a red leather outfit on a guy, have him run around, hunt some bad guys, and cash the check.'"

There are few films where I can remember my palpable disappointment quite so vividly as when I walked out of the movie theater after seeing "Daredevil." As a huge fan of the character, the movie crushed my live-action hopes and dreams for the Man Without Fear for quite some time. However, I loved the series, and I can't help but feel like Netflix canceled the show when it was at its best. Seriously, season 3 was so great! Sure, Daredevil's costume could've looked better, but it didn't make me love the show any less.

A team effort

It's clear a ton of work went into shaping Daredevil's suit for the Netflix series. "Daredevil" season 1 costume designer Stephanie Maslansky told Fashionista that that particular outfit actually wasn't one of her creations. She said, "That costume was conceptualized by Marvel, and it was a huge deal. Fabrics were created, pieces were manufactured. The costume was created by utilizing a variety of craftsmen — let's put it that way — and it really came together over time." 

Concept artist and Marvel Studios Head of Visual Development Ryan Meinerding told Marvel (via Comic Book) that their entire team worked on designs for the costume, but that they eventually went with one of his. He also talked about the importance of conveying a sense of realism, which is what led to aspects of the suit like armor or padding. He continued, "When you do a superhero costume in that world, it's hard to be as real as you need to be, because you're making it heightened. So you try and find the touchstones for that with armoring pieces that you would want armored, like your shins and your forearms for blocking and hitting as well as having things be riveted on."

Giving Matt a costume that hides his identity, but that he can also fight in is indeed a tall order. Plus, as Cox mentioned, we have to believe he'd actually wear this thing. It's incredibly difficult to make these comic costumes actually look good in live-action, but it sounds like this team worked really hard to try. It was a valiant effort, but honestly, I think Matt's season 3 black costume is the coolest. Now that Daredevil is returning for a Disney+ series, I'm sure we'll see yet another iteration of the hero's famous suit. Let's hope they get it right!