Kingpin, the ultimate villain in Netflix’s Daredevil, and the Donald Trump connection
- Yonden Lhatoo compares the best bad guy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the US president and draws parallels with the real-life drama currently gripping America
- Plot turns in the series about a ‘narcissistic tyrant who uses people’s fears to keep them divided and conquered’ can get a little too close for comfort
I just can’t seem to get away from US President Donald Trump these days, no matter where I turn for distraction and relief from the news.
A case in point is the excellent third season of Daredevil, which I just finished watching on Netflix. While it’s hands-down the best TV/film adaptation of a superhero comic book series so far – forget Iron Man, Thor, or any other two-dimensional, pop-culture fantasy; this is grippingly smart and multilayered storytelling – what spoiled it for me was arch-villain Wilson Fisk’s resemblance to Trump.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s towering portrayal of Fisk, the best bad guy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, evokes Trump in many ways – minus the Kanye West moments, childish tantrums, pettiness, and overall lack of dignity of the real-life presidency.
Like Trump, the villain nicknamed the Kingpin is physically imposing, if overweight, but he sports a bald head instead of a complex comb-over. And he’s a cold, calculating, evil genius who’s always a dozen steps ahead of everyone – which doesn’t quite sound like Trump.
Whatever the differences, the similarities are intended, as Daredevil showrunner Erik Oleson has divulged regarding his live-action interpretation of the “narcissistic tyrant who uses people’s fears to keep them divided and conquered”.
In one dramatic speech the Kingpin delivers, the parallels are glaringly obvious: “I know that most of you find this difficult to accept. That’s only because you’ve been manipulated, poisoned into believing the news media’s fake story that I am evil, that I am a criminal. Quite the opposite is true. Because I challenge the system, because I’ve told the truth and tried to make this city a better place, the people in power decided to tear me down.”
That’s Trump all the way – albeit more coherent – attacking the “fake news” media, complaining of being unfairly vilified, claiming to be the reformer who will “drain the swamp”, and accusing his enemies of seeking his downfall when all he wants to do is “Maga”, or “make America great again”.
The analogy gets a little too close for comfort in one episode when Fisk orchestrates a murderous attack on the New York Bulletin as the tabloid is about to blow the lid on his crimes. It makes you think about the violent rhetoric Trump has regularly employed against the liberal media, which now appears to have manifested itself in a bid to blow up CNN, a news outlet he hates with a vengeance.
I’m not saying the US president is behind the spate of bombs being mailed to his biggest critics, including predecessor Barack Obama and defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but he can’t absolve himself of all culpability when he constantly whips up his fans into a frenzy by celebrating violence against the media – whether he’s praising someone for body slamming a reporter or inciting hatred against journalists, whom he has branded “enemies of the people”.
Which is why it feels like the twilight zone to hear Trump, in damage-control mode, calling for “peace and harmony” and an end to “political violence”.
“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostilities and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” said the man who made 5,000 false or misleading claims in his first 601 days as president, according to fact checkers at The Washington Post.
Not surprisingly, the bomb suspect they’ve arrested is a Trump devotee with a lengthy criminal record, while the president is complaining that all this “bomb stuff” will cost his Republican cronies in the midterm elections. The plot twists in Daredevil couldn’t keep up with this real-life circus.
Oh well, now that the TV show is over, I guess it’s back to the sitcom known as “Maga” for interim entertainment while we wait for the next must-see series on Netflix – season two of The Punisher.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post