Netflix’s Daredevil series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe becomes available to view this Friday and I, like many, couldn’t be more excited. I didn’t grow up loving Daredevil initially, but when I seriously got into comics in my early teens I got quite the introduction thanks to Kevin Smith’s “Guardian Devil” story under the Marvel Knights banner and would continue following the characters exploits when the writing duties transitioned to Brian Micheal Bendis and more recently Mark Waid, a run that I have collected every single issue for. Every since Marvel forced the world to rethink how super heroes should be done in the live-action medium, I’ve been waiting for Daredevil to get his shot after the much hated, though I will defend the directors cut, film starring the character in 2003. If the buzz is to be believed, it looks like were in for a treat in just a few short days.
Similar to the live action space, Daredevil hasn’t quite got his due in the video game world with only one mediocre solo game to his credit and an ill-fated console game that never saw the light of day. That doesn’t mean that the Man Without Fear hasn’t been absent in the interactive space, having made cameo appearances in some big Marvel titles, and even being playable in some of them as well going all the way back to the mid-90’s.
In the eyes of many, Daredevil has sometimes been viewed as a low rent version of Spider-Man so it’s no surprise that the first time we would see Daredevil featured in a video game was in the sequel to the hit beat-em-up Maximum Carnage from Acclain, Spider-Man/Venom: Separation Anxiety. Upon collecting the appropriate character icon, Daredevil can be summoned to clear the screen of enemies by using his trusty billy club. The next time Daredevil would appear in a video game would also be as a support character in a Spider-Man game, this time in the little played Spider-Man: Web of Fire on the 32X.
Continuing with his appearance in Spider-Man games, Daredevil appeared in Activision’s first ever Spider-Man game on the PSOne/N64/Dreamcast in that games cut-scenes, using his internal lie detector to determine that Spider-Man was indeed not behind the technology heist at the start of the game, and that his claims of the crime being perpetrated by an imposter were indeed true.
Three years later in 2003 Daredevil would finally step out from Spider-Man’s shadow in his own game on the Game Boy Advance that launched around the time of the first and only Daredevil movie to date made it to theatres in the same year. The game unfortunately was a mediocre side-scrolling action game like the lazy tie-ins and licensed games found on the SNES/Sega Genesis throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s and did little to raise the characters awareness outside of the comics circle. A more promising looking console game was in development from the same publisher as the GBA title, Encore, but they bowed out of the publishing business and the game was not picked up.
Daredevil had made brief appearance in his costumed persona in other games, but in 2005 the man behind the mask, Matt Murdock, appeared along with his arch-nemesis’ Bullseye and the Kingpin as well as one time lover the Black Widow in the excellent The Punisher from THQ. Matt tries to use his skills as a lawyer to get Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher, out of prison but Frank shoots down Murdock’s help. For the first time ever in 2005 Daredevil made appearances in not one, but two games: After his brief appearance as Matt Murdock in The Punisher, he would join fellow Marvel heroes along with a slew of original characters in the poorly received Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects from EA.
The characters of the Marvel Universe would reunite in a much better game a year later in the third Marvel themed action-RPG from publisher Activision and developer Raven Software in Marvel Ultimate Alliance, a game which would go on to get a sequel three years later from developer Vicarious Visions. In the first game the player had to unlock Daredevil by collecting items across various acts of the game, but in the sequel he was playable as early as the introduction mission.
Since its start in the mid-90’s, Capcom’s series of Marvel themed 2-D fighting games have featured a wide range of characters from the pages of Marvel comics, everyone from Spider-Man to Rocket Raccoon. One character who never appeared as a combatant was Daredevil, though he did make his presence known in the last chapter, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Matt Murdock was the attorney who prosecuted Resident Evil villain Albert Wesker in Chris Redfield’s ending:
Daredevil can also be seen among fellow Marvel Zombies in Dead Rising star Frank West’s ending:
As well as in the background for the Shadowland stage:
Marvel leased its characters to Sony’s LittleBigPlanet franchise for the purpose of dressing up the games adorable Sackboy mascot in Marvel themed outfits, a relationship that still exists to this day as a stand-alone PS Vita title was released with a bunch of Marvel DLC included. In the first ever Marvel kit, a Daredevil Sackboy appeared along with fellow Marvel alum Iron Man, The Thing, Doc Ock and Mystique.
As the free-to-play market exploded thanks in no small part to mobile and Facebook games, Marvel expanded into this space aggressively across both platforms. Daredevil has become a playable character in a majority of these titles, including Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel Puzzle Quest and will soon be headed to the mobile brawler Marvel Contest of Champions as well.
It’s rare to see a Marvel game that you play on a console with a controller, but one of the best Marvel games to ever come along dropped in late 2013 when WB Games released the TT Games developed Lego Marvel Super Heroes. The game features 155 characters not including DLC, and while some don’t get to share in the spotlight of the main story campaign, many get interesting bonus missions courtesy of the Deadpool red brick extra missions. One such character is Daredevil who gets his own mission that allows players to unlock not only him as a character, but Bullseye, Elektra and Kingpin as well.
Daredevil is one of Marvel’s oldest characters with his first appearance dating all the way back to 1964. Despite this longevity, the character hasn’t really had a chance to enter the mainstream in a big way like fellow Marvel alum Spider-Man and the expansive cast of The Avengers, something that will hopefully change as early as this weekend. I’ve always thought that Daredevil would make an excellent character for a video game with his abilities and gear excellently suited to a shameless Arkham clone, combined with Phoenix Wright attorney segments where the player could use the characters abilities to catch people in a lie while on the stand. Should the character catch on like Guardians of the Galaxy did next year, perhaps Daredevil can stand alone in his own game as opposed to just existing with other Marvel characters.
A VISUAL HISTORY OF DAREDEVIL IN VIDEO GAMES
SPIDER-MAN: WEB OF FIRE (1995)
THE PUNISHER (2005)
MARVEL NEMESIS: RISE OF THE IMPERFECTS (2005)
MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 2 (2009)
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3: FATE OF TWO WORLS (2011)
MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD ONLINE (2011)
MARVEL AVENGERS ALLIANCE (2012)
MARVEL HEROES (2013)
LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES (2013)
MARVEL PUZZLE QUEST (2014)