Neglected Nemeses: Kingpin
Typically with this series, I try to take on rogues that are a bit more obscure and a bit less obvious, a majority of which have yet to be seen in a big screen production. However, there are a few villains that were either handled so poorly in other films, or just need a revamp, that I have included them in my articles. Today, for example, I will be taking a look at the Kingpin, a baddie that has already been featured in Daredevil, but I’m thinking he could be re-worked a bit and updated.
Before I delve into why I chose this villain, I’d like to give my readers a bit of history on the character and what makes him the way he is. Wilson Grant Fisk is thought to have been born in New York City, but that has yet to be determined. He did however, grow up on the street of the Bronx, and was known for his violent and brutal ways. Having noticed this, Don Rigaletto quickly brought the young Fisk into his ranks as an enforcer. Fisk, seeing an opportunity, eventually murdered his mentor and inherited the mob empire that Rigaletto had once managed, bringing life to the Kingpin. Fisk enjoyed a long tenure in his new role, but over time, he angered several factions, including the Maggia crime syndicate and HYDRA. The two groups banded together to bring an end to Kingpin, who was forced to flee to Japan. Slowly but surely, he regained his wealth via a spice company. Eventually, he returned to New York and forced his way back into the crime scene. With the city’s factions in chaos, Kingpin weaseled his way back into control.
Fisk’s wife, Vanessa, did all she could to keep their son Richard away from the life of crime that his father so embraced, but Richard eventually discovered his father’s ways. After faking his own death, Richard returned to New York to put an end to his father’s regime as the Schemer. He also took on the name Rose, as well as Blood Rose, but to his dismay, his work did little to take down Fisk.
Kingpin attempted a reformation after a final go at taking Spider-Man out. Not surprisingly he fail. During this reformation, Fisk attempted to make good by turning over all of his records and paperwork to authorities, in turn incriminating all of his lieutenants. Not liking this, these lieutenants kidnapped Vanessa and put a bounty on his head. After believing his wife to be dead, Fisk returned to his life of crime and quickly made his way back to the top.
Later on, the Kingpin learned the identity of Daredevil thanks to his ex Karen Page, who was working as an adult film star. Fisk used this knowledge to destroy the personal and professional life of Daredevil. Having seen the results of his handy work, Kingpin became obsessed with Daredevil which leads to a series of Kingpin-led offenses towards Daredevil and Hell’s Kitchen. Fisk doesn’t reserve his ire for heroes. After Crossbones attempted, and failed, an execution on Kingpin, the gangster sent Bullseye after Red Skull, who ordered the hit on Fisk. That attempt also failed, but Kingpin faced Skull one-on-one and defeated him.
I could go on and on with the numerous story lines and arcs that Fisk has been involved with, but that would make for an extremely long article. Let’s just say he has many enemies and therefore has huge potential for the big screen; an opportunity greatly missed in Daredevil. Kingpin has an extensive past in running drugs, murder, smuggling and the like, but he actually has no criminal record, as well as a large group of lawyers to help keep that record as such. He has made a name for himself as being a criminal-financial genius with no one being on the same level with him. Fisk has no super powers, but his 400 pound frame is built of solid muscle. His fighting skills have helped him take on the likes of Spider-Man and be able to stand his ground. He has also gone head-to-head with several of Marvel’s greatest heroes including Captain America, Moon Knight, Dr. Strange, the Punisher, and Ghost Rider, as well as the team of the Avengers. He has utilized several masked assassins as well, including Elektra, Bullseye and Typhoid Mary.
But it is Kingpin’s notorious battles with the “Man Without Fear” that give him his notoriety. One of few people to know Daredevil’s secret identity, thanks to the drug cravings of Karen Page, Fisk has proven time and again to be a very formidable foe. In fact, IGN named Kingpin as the #10 on their list of “Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time,” only behind baddies like Magneto, the Joker and the Dark Phoenix. They paid him this compliment:
And now, despite first appearing in a Spider-Man comic book, Fisk is the darkness to Daredevil’s light. In fact if he’s not somehow involved in Matt Murdock’s life or superhero antics, we feel like something is missing from his series. You’ll see us say it again later on, but that’s the truest sign of a brilliant villain, one that has benefited from years and years of excellent storytelling.
There are many rogues in the comic book world that come and go, but there are only a few who have withstood the test of time and continually prove themselves to be the real deal. They hold the attention of the readers over and over again, and Kingpin is one of those few.
In 2003’s Daredevil, Kingpin was portrayed by Michael Clark Duncan, who did a decent job given the material he was given. He was able to provide the dominance and confidence that Fisk requires, but it seemed that something was missing. Many other fans have had some great suggestions including Michael Chicklis, James Gandolfini, and Bob Hoskins, all of whom would be good choice, but I went with a different option. I’ve chosen an actor who has spent the last several years playing a giant in the Harry Potter films, but he has proven himself many times by taking on such villainous roles as Valentin in GoldenEye, as well as myriad other parts in films like From Hell, Ocean’s Twelve and The Brothers Bloom. Robbie Coltrane is considered to be one of Britain’s top comedians, but when it comes time to take on a more serious role, he can do so and own the hell out of it. I have no doubt that Coltrane would be able to pull this off: he has the size, the look and most importantly, the talent.
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