THE MARVEL TELEVISION UNIVERSE [BelserVerse]: The Story of Thor the Viking Ghost and Ninja Devil.

JaDarrell “The Belser”
@TheBelser
Though we have covered all the CBS/Marvel characters under the original deal in the 70’s, I’m going to go ahead and add two extra ones for good measure. I’m doing this for two reasons: 1). I’m a nice nerd and 2) these two are spinoffs of one of the originals: The Incredible Hulk. As previously stated, New World Pictures relaunched The Incredible Hulk TV franchise as a series of TV movies in the late 80’s. Two of the movies served as ‘tryouts’ for some potential new series based on new Marvel characters. The first movie, The Incredible Hulk Returns, introduced a new character from the Marvel TV pantheon: The Mighty Thor.

Thor’s debut

Based on the God of Thunder from Norse Mythology, Thor was created by writers Stan Lee sand Larry Lieber with artist Jack Kirby and debuted on Journey into Mystery #83 (August 1962). Stan Lee described Thor’s creation as a means to one-up his most recent success at the time, The Incredible Hulk:

“[H]ow do you make someone stronger than the strongest person? It finally came to me: Don’t make him human — make him a god. I decided readers were already pretty familiar with the Greek and Roman gods. It might be fun to delve into the old Norse legends… Besides, I pictured Norse gods looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs. …Journey into Mystery needed a shot in the arm, so I picked Thor … to headline the book. After writing an outline depicting the story and the characters I had in mind, I asked my brother, Larry, to write the script because I didn’t have time. …and it was only natural for me to assign the penciling to Jack Kirby…” ( 2019, Wikipedia, Thor( Marvel Comics) ).

DC’s Thor

NOTE: Prior to the debut of the Thor we know now, Jack Kirby did a version of Thor for DC Comics in 1957 for the comic Tales of the Unexpected #16.

“I did a version of Thor for D.C. in the fifties before I did him for Marvel. I created Thor at Marvel because I was forever enamored of legends, which is why I knew about Balder, Heimdall, and Odin. I tried to update Thor and put him into a superhero costume, but he was still Thor. “[I] knew the Thor legends very well, but I wanted to modernize them. I felt that might be a new thing for comics, taking the old legends and modernizing them.” (2019, Wikipedia, Thor (Marvel Comics) ).

Thor has gone on to become one of the most popular Marvel superheroes ever. Journey into Mystery was eventually re-titled The Mighty Thor with issue #126 in March 1966. Thor would become a founding member of The Avengers and would help forms the ‘Holy Trinity’ (along with Captain America and Iron Man).

Thor’s first foray in multimedia was as one of the five heroes featured on the syndicated TV show The Marvel Superheroes in 1966. It was a half-hour program made up of three seven-minute segments of a single superhero each weekday. Thor was (ironically) the Thursday hero.The series was poorly received due to the cheap animation and only lasted 4 months (September to December).

The series, produced in color, had extremely limited animation produced by xerography, consisting of photocopied images taken directly from the comics and manipulated to minimize the need for animation production. The cartoons were presented as a series of static comic-strip panel images; generally the only movement involved the lips when a character spoke, the eyes, and the occasional arm or leg, or a fully animated black silhouette” (2019, Wikipedia, The Marvel Super Heroes).

As the new Hulk TV films went into production, most of the production crew from the series returned. The most notable omission was Hulk series creator Kenneth Johnson. In the years between the Hulk series cancellation and these films, Ken Johnson had created the successful mini-series V and was working on the Fox show Alien Nation at the time. For Thor’s live action debut, a number of changes made to the Thor and Don Blake characters. 

Thor’s original transformation

• In the comics, Don Blake was able to transform into Thor by hitting an ancient wooden stick on the ground. Here, both Blake and Thor are presented as separate entities though it is implied throughout the movie that they are connected by unknown means.
• Thor is not an Asgardian nor is Asgard mentioned. He is merely a warrior king who refers to himself as “the son of Odin” .

Stan Lee flanked by the actors playing his creations

• The intention of the TV movie was to piggyback off the name value of The Incredible Hulk TV series to provide  a backdoor pilot for a  new potential series starring Thor and Don Blake traveling around and solving crimes with some ‘Odd Couple” comedy.

Casting Donald Blake and Thor:

Steve Levitt, Thor’s handler

For the role of Donald Blake, the producers picked actor Steve Levitt. Levitt’s most famous film is as Bradley Brinkman in the 80’s comedy Hunk. In the film, Levitt’s nerdy character makes a Faustian deal to be transformed into a handsome popular superstar named Hunk Golden for the price of his immortal soul. Levitt, it would seem, has abandoned the entertainment industry and has become a bit reclusive.

The ‘thunder god’ himself, Eric Allan Kramer

However, for the role of The Mighty Thor, the producers chose stage actor Eric Allan Kramer in his first major film role. Kramer talks about the experience in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment:

“It was literally one of the first things I auditioned for when I first came to Los Angeles. I think it was as much as a surprise to my agent as it was to me when it all came around. I was completely green to the whole process of auditioning and castings so it was a great learning experience, on top of being very exciting. I was big into comic books growing up, and I was a huge Spider-Man fan. So I was well versed in that whole universe”( Alter, 2017, Throwback Thor’s-day: How Eric Allan Kramer became the first live-action Thor, Yahoo!.com)

Eric Allan Kramer today

Eric Allan Kramer has gone on to a very lengthy and diverse career since the early 90’s in movies like True Romance, High School High and American Wedding. My personal role of his is as Little John in the Mel Brooks farce Robin Hood: Men In Tights. In recent years, he has found success in family television, playing dad roles on shows like Disney’s Good Luck Charlie and Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans.

 

Origin:

Donald Blake, M.D. was a young troublemaker with an affinity for Viking culture. Blake was once the student of Dr. David Banner during a stint at Harvard Medical School. Eventually, Don became a physician himself. His love of Norse mythology led to him accepting the position as the team doctor for an amateur archaeologist group heading into the mountains of Norway. One night during the expedition, Blake found himself awaken in the middle of the night by sudden urge to climb a nearby mountain. Blake then committed to climbing the mountain, not knowing where he was headed but entirely sure that he was going in the right direction. Soon after, he found a cave whose entrance have been kept open due to warm volcanic air. As he went inside further, he noticed wall adorned with Viking runes (which he had previously not been able to read but could now). The runes read “You have pierced the heart of Odin. Turn and go away or go forward and be eaten by your fate”.

Thinking the warning is a form of reverse psychology, Blake moved forward. Eventually, he spotted a large stone sarcophagus. On the top of the sarcophagus were more viking runes except these told a story. The writing told the legend of a mighty warrior and king named Thor, the inhabitant of the sarcophagus. The story states that Thor is forbidden from entering Valhalla (the viking equivalent of Heaven) until he performed a number of heroic tasks as a penance for the sin of arrogance. With curiosity overwhelming him, Blake opened the top of the sarcophagus. Inside, he found the skeleton of a large man decked out in viking armor. By his side, Blake noticed a viking war hammer. Blake picked it up and, while dusting it off, the hammer started to vibrate and emit sparks of lightning. Blake could not let go while this is happening. The sarcophagus itself glows with light. Suddenly, the resurrected form of Thor appears before Blake. Blake soon discovers Thor is a part of him in a way that he cannot explain. At that moment, Blake was chosen to be Thor’s guide in his quest to enter Valhalla. After finding Blake’s lost mentor David Banner, Thor and Blake bond and become a very unlikely crime-fighting duo.

Donald Blake:

Prior to funding for finding Thor, Donald Blake had a reputation as a bit of a troublemaker. Most notably, he had a tendency to start trouble and then run away. Blake can also be quite selfish as he ruins Banner’s chance to cure himself to serve his own needs. Blake’s summoning of Thor in anger also broke Banner’s successful two-year streak with no changes into The Hulk. However, Thor was dedicated to finding the heroic side of Don Blake (with some help from David Banner). Blake is a licensed physician and has a light level of technical expertise. He was able to shut down Banner’s Gamma Transponder and help rebuild its computer banks again (after a violent scuffle between The Hulk and Thor). Blake is a skilled tracker as he was able to find out that the long-believed-dead David Banner was alive when no one else could. His past mountaineering skills also allowed him to scale the top floor of the Joshua Lambert Institute to locate Banner. Blake is has also shown to be slightly proficient in both hand to hand combat and with firearms like an M-16.


NOTE: Don Blake was Thor’s alter ego in the comics for years and was created by Odin for that sole purpose. In the MCU, Don Blake is mentioned as an old boyfriend of Dr. Jane Foster (She describes him as ‘good with patients, bad with relationships’). Dr. Erik Selvig also uses a falsified version of Blake’s ID to help Thor to evade SHIELD agents.

Abilities:

Conjuring:

Donald Blake bringing out Thor from the netherworld

‘Odin has made you my guide in this place. And for humility’s sake, I must follow your lead. Well then, lead!” – Thor.

After finding Thor’s hammer, Blake gained the ability to summon the spirit of Thor and give it a human form again. The act takes only seconds to complete. It is at Blake’s discretion when Thor appears but, at moments, he seems to do it against his wishes. The process is as follows:
• Blake holds the hammer in both hands (accompanied with the sound of rolling thunder) and screams the name ‘Odin! at the top of his lungs.
• A bright flash of lightning strikes down (even while indoors). It is usually so bright that Blake has turn away and close his eyes.
• The lightning begins to form into the shape of a human.
• Thor materializes as the thunder and lightning subsides

Of the two, Blake is the one that is tasked to summon Thor as Thor cannot remain on this plane of existence himself. As it is explained, Blake acts as a human anchor for Thor’s presence. Banner describes Blake’s ability to bring on Thor as Blake having ‘the wrath of God in a bottle’. The hammer itself also has a psychological hold on Blake. Blake states he has tried to get rid of the hammer several times only for it to draw him back ‘like a chain’. Banner and Blake have a conversation to help Banner better understand the Thor/hammer situation:

Blake: The closest thing I can come to an explanation is what’s popularly known as channeling.
Banner: The spirits of the dead existing again through the living,
Blake: Right. So this hammer is like a switch that turns the channel on and Bang! There he is! But he’s not a ghost or spirit. He’s real! He’s as real as this {kitchen} counter. Only bigger!

Thor:

The battle happy Thor

Thor is an ancient viking warrior and king who has been infused with more natural power than the average human. Thor has a largely fight-hungry persona due to his many battles over the centuries. At some point, Thor was killed and his spirit was banished to a dark realm for all eternity. His arrogance prevents his soul’s entry into Valhalla until he performs a sufficient amount of heroic tasks. Thor begrudgingly accepts the fact that Blake is his guide and even refers to him on occasion as his “master“. His hobbies include laughing with women and fighting with men. Thor has a very imposing and intimidating presence that can be seen as aggressive to regular people. As such, Thor prefers the company of warriors like himself (He befriends a gang of bikers and likes to hang with The Hulk more than Banner).  Thor speaks in what some people would call a Shakespearean or OId English dialect, using words like ‘Thou’ and ‘Thy”. Thor has a tendency to refer to people and modern conveniences by ancient terms (He calls Banner “a warlock’, The Hulk ‘a troll” and a car “a metal chariot). Our modern world intrigues and confuses Thor( He thinks the justice system is too weak on criminals and he hates science). Apparently, Thor rests as a body-less spirit until summoned by Blake. The process in which Thor is brought back to Earth often leaves him sometimes confused and mostly hungry/dehydrated (His first request whenever he is resurrected is usually to have some form of drink).

Thor explains to Blake what is like for him in the dark realm as he waits for Blake to summon him: “Do you know it is like to be without flesh, Blake? Without flesh that you can feel? Without blood pumping through your limbs? With no heart and no chest to hold it? And still at the same time, to be awake? Not sleeping. Not dead. Not anything. A place of mist and smoke. Darkness. Alone, as if in some terrible dream. And then…..Then, Blake… to hear the call. Like a war horn in battle. And then to awaken as you were, when men and women ate life with shining teeth! None of them are left now. But I am as I always will be!”

Superhuman Strength:

Thor possesses a relative level of superhuman strength. The source of this strength is unknown but might have something to do with his current existence is a non-corporeal spirit. NOTE: In the movie, Thor calls himself ‘The son of Odin” and it is unclear if this was just a boast or if he is actually a demi-god( a god/human hybrid). When charged into corporeal form, it may provide an extra amount of physical power to Thor. Thor is able to rag-doll and toss a full grown man number of feet away and was able to nonchalantly throw another man through a wooden door. In a bar scene, Thor merely flicks his wrist and knocks a man unconscious. His most notable feat of strength in the movie is the fact that he was able to engage in a full-blown battle with The Hulk, the most powerful creature on Earth. This strength also extends to his voice: when hailing a cab in the middle of the night, Thor’s voice is so powerful that it stops a yellow cab in its tracks and nearly deafens Blake.

Superhuman Durability:

Thor has a much sturdier and more durable body structure than the average human. This is first shown when he was thrown through a glass window by The Hulk with no cuts or bruises. Thor also displays an extraordinary resistance to alcohol as he was able to drink at least a dozen full pitchers of beer by himself with no drunken after effects. In the bar scene, a biker punches Thor in the stomach and breaks his own hand as a result. His girth is also hefty enough to temporarily stall the launch of a helicopter.

Thor’s Warrior Garb:

Thor in full regalia

Thor’s warrior garb is composed of dark brown leather pants, and knee-high brown boots lined on the top with white animal fur. His body is covered in a muscle cuirass (a metal chest plate made to look like a man’s torso) with wings on the abdomen and the arm pit area lined with more white animal fur.  Thor wears a pair of leather bracers on each wrist.  He has a leather belt with a large buckle adorned with the symbol of Thor’s hammer.  The belt has a small sword in a holster that is never used in the film. Thor also wears a gray helmet with large gray wings on either side and chain mail to protect his neck. Thor can be seen wearing a beige cloth parka when relaxed. Thor wears a thin leather necklace with a leather charm in the shape of his hammer.

Thor’s Hammer:

Thor’s hammer

The hammer has been Thor’s primary weapon for centuries and It is also his means of entering our world in this new life. After Thor materializes, he uses the hammer in combat.  At no point in this movie is the hammer referred  to as ‘ Mjolnir‘. This version of the hammer also lacks a lot of the enchanted qualities of the comic book version:
• In the comics, only those who are considered worthy can lift the hammer. In this movie version, anybody can basically handle it. (Thor, Blake and David Banner are all seen handling the hammer with no problem).
• The hammer’s ability to return to Thor’s hand when thrown is not included in this version. However, when thrown, the hammer strikes with the same amount of force as a bolt of lightning (It is shown being able to take out a speeding car).
• The mallet portion of the hammer can deflect bullets.
• When Thor uses the hammer to strike an object or a person, the hammer gives off sparks of lightning, giving it an additional ‘stun gun’ effect on its target. The hammer was even powerful enough to (momentarily) stop The Incredible Hulk.

TV Movies:


The Incredible Hulk Returns

Debut: May 22, 1988 on NBC.

In the years since the end of the series, Dr. David Banner has a job at the Joshua-Lambert Research Institute (as David Bannion). He is romantically involved with Dr. Maggie Shaw, a co-worker of his. Even better, he has not changed into the Hulk for two years. David and a team of scientists have completed a machine called the Gamma Transponder. Banner intends to use the machine to cure himself of The Hulk once and for all. However, he is interrupted by a former student of his, Donald Blake. Blake reveals he is now in possession of an ancient hammer that summon The Mighty Thor, an immortal warrior banished by Odin to Earth. damages equipment and angers Banner until he turns into the Hulk, and the mammoth men fight. Meanwhile, a traitor within the Joshua-Lambert Institute uses a group of mercenaries to try to kidnap Banner and the Transponder. The leader LeBeau targets Dr. Shaw instead of Banner and it will take the combined efforts of the Hulk and Thor to save her.

  • Film Notes:
    This marked the first live-action crossover between two major superheroes from the Marvel Universe.
  • At point, Blake refers to Banner as “My Favorite Scientist” as an inside pun on Bixby’s first sitcom “My Favorite Martian” .

• This is also the first live action depiction of the fan favorite ‘Thor vs Hulk’ match-up. This confrontation has been redone in comics, cartoons and movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe like The Avengers and Thor Ragnarok.

Daredevil: The Man Without Fear:

 

 

 

The last of this spinoff line of TV superheroes is Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. Matt Murdock/Daredevil debuted in Daredevil #1 (April 1964) created by writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett. Some of the character’s initial design input came from artist Jack Kirby (Kirby created Daredevil’s billy club/grappling hook) Stan Lee explains the creation of Daredevil in an interview for the DVD special features of the 2003 Daredevil movie:

“I wanted something for Bill Everett to do. When we first did Daredevil, I said to myself, ‘Here’s Bill who had created the Sub Mariner, who was one of the great talents in our business and as far as I know he isn’t doing anything. I gotta dream up something for him’. A number of people had written articles in different papers and magazines about the fact that all of our heroes, all the ones I had come up with were flawed. So I thought well I gotta find a guy with another flaw. That seems to be what turns people on

Daredevil during his ‘Swaskbuckler’ days

Daredevil spent many years as a ‘Scarlet Swashbuckler’ because of Lee’s love of classic actor Errol Flynn and his films.

Frank Miller’s dark and gritty reinvention of Daredevil

However, in the late 70s, writer-artist Frank Miller joined the book and changed it completely. Miller played up elements like street violence, religion and a splash of Kung-Fu mysticism. Miller’s run made the character into a critical hit amongst fans and creators alike.

Prior to his appearance in Trial of The Incredible Hulk, several attempts were made to bring a Daredevil TV show to fruition.

Daredevil and Black Widow ( sort of..)

• In 1975, Angela Bowie (ex-wife of rock icon David Bowie) secured the TV rights for a show based on the Daredevil and Black Widow comic at the time. A series of pictures surfaced online of Bowie as Black Widow and actor Ben Carruthers as Daredevil
• In 1983, ABC wanted to do a live-action Daredevil pilot with Academy Award-winning writer Stirling Silliphant as the writer. It never made it past the drawing board,

the first multimedia appearance of Daredevil

• Daredevil’s first ever multimedia appearance was on an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends entitled “Attack of the Arachnoid”. Voiced by veteran voice actor Frank Welker, Matt Murdock serves as Spider-Man’s lawyer when he was framed for a crime by a chemical scientist. Daredevil appears in a flashback.

Casting Daredevil:

For the dual role of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, the producers cast actor/singer Rex Smith. In the late 70’s/ early 80’s, Smith was considered a teen idol  and was regularly featured in magazines like Tiger Beat. Smith also enjoyed success as a singer with his biggest hit being the Top 10 single “You Take My Breath Away“. When Smith transitioned into acting, he appeared as a guest star on shows like The Love Boat and was the host of the music show Solid Gold.

Rex on ‘Street Hawk’

Smith’s biggest acting credit was as the star of the Knight Rider rip-off Street Hawk as a cop with a super motorcycle. Rex Smith as Matt Murdock played the character as kind but , at times, temperamental. . Rex Smith talks about getting the role of Daredevil in a podcast interview:

“I had to pass muster with Stan{Lee} at that time, not Disney. it was his baby. He was very hands-on. I really liked portraying Matt maybe more than the Daredevil, the human side of him. I really emotionally felt empahty with his plight. Anyway you look at it, even his super power is a plight. It was a part of his life that he didn’t ask for and it was accidental but he made the best of it and turned it into a positive. I admire him. I admire that he was a lawyer. It was truly a wonderful experience from A to Z”.

Several changes were made to the character for his live action debut:
• The most notable change being his costume. Instead of an all red costume with horns and two Ds on the chest, Daredevil wears an all-black ninja like suit with a mesh bllndfold over the eyes. The black costume has become a popular alternative choice and has been featured in the comics and on the Netflix Daredevil show as a ‘starter’ uniform for the character.

This TV movie marks the debut of the ‘black’ Daredevil suit
The black suit was used as the early Daredevil suit on Netflix

• The characters or Foggy Nelson and Karen Page are mixed together as Krista Klein, Matt’s legal partner/potential love interest.
• This version of Daredevil secretly works with a police captain. Daredevil in the comics had no such relation.
• His religious views and complicated past life are left out.

  • Origin:

Matt Murdock was the son of a boxer whom Matt describes as ‘a good middleweight’ and his mother passed when he was too young to remember. The criminal element gained control of Matt’s father and, when he fought back, he was murdered. In 1968, fourteen-year-old Murdock saved an old man from being hit by a speeding truck. That truck was illegally carrying radioactive waste into the city. A metal drum got knocked loose in front of Matt and its radioactive material spilled and hit his eyes (A wave of green liquid was the last thing Matt ever saw). Matt was given an award for bravery for the act. He was blinded, but his other senses increased tenfold and he has a kind of radar sense that allows him to detect objects. 10 years prior, Matt had just become a lawyer and was ready to fight the criminal plague but had no idea how. One day, he happened upon a press conference on the steps of the local courthouse. At the center was police officer Albert G. Tindelli, who just walked out of a police task force. Tindelli called the task force ‘a sham’ and accused the officers involved and the DA’s office of corruption. When asked who can stop the criminal organization, Tindelli makes a unique suggestion:

“Maybe somebody who could work alone can do some damage. Maybe somebody could get behind the lines, hit and run. Keep himself a secret. Maybe some kind of a….I dont know…crazy…daredevil, if you will, could hurt them. You can laugh all you want but it will be somebody that can’t kill off, pay off or scare off”.

The suggestion inspires Matt to physically train himself to his limits (and beyond) and adopt a new identity: a secret vigilante known only as ‘Daredevil’. His motivation to become Daredevil was not revenge but to protect people from criminals who have corrupted the law. One night, Matt introduces himself in full costume to Tindelli and the two form a secret partnership. Tindelli is unaware of Daredevil’s true identity but contacts him with an untraceable phone link to provide clues and tips on cases. Daredevil has been regarded as an urban legend that is feared by the underworld. Daredevil is also respected by the street populace( His name is adorned as street graffiti and the neighborhood kids ask of his well being when he goes missing for a brief period). 

Wilson Fisk:
Matt’s primary villain in this film is also his primary villain in the comics, Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin).

Kingpin as he appears in the comics

Initially a Spider-man villain, The Kingpin was created by Stan Lee and artist John Romita Sr. His physical appearance on actor Sydney Greenstreet, best known from classic Humphrey Bogart films like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon.

Kingpin as he appears in this TV movie

In this film, Fisk is played by British actor John Rhys-Davies. Rhys -Davies is a classically trained actor who has appeared in major blockbusters like Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Lord Of The Rings. Rhys-Davies doesn’t look much like comics’ Kingpin aside from his stocky build. He has slicked back hair, a beard, wears dark suits and frequently wears special Aviator shades. Operating out of a large penthouse office, Fisk acts as the head of a large organization responsible for much of the criminal activity in the city. Fisk is shown to be quite sadistic and ruthless (at one point, he orders the deaths of David Banner and an innocent school teacher). Fish even personally supervises the major crimes like a diamond heist and an ambush of Daredevil. It is unknown why Matt has such a strong personal vendetta against Fisk. Fisk is never referred as ‘The Kingpin’ at any point in the movie.

Powers/Abilities:
Lawyer/ Investigator: Murdock is a skilled and respected attorney with his own law firm, Murdock & Klein. Because of his profession, Matt is shown to be a skilled detective and tracker. He often uses his condition as a blind man to eavesdrop on conversations or to evoke sympathy to his advantage. Matt is also shown to be an expert in interrogation and can switch from sympathetic to aggressive at the drop of a dime.

Radar Sense:
Banner: How can you see?
Matt: I don’t. I sort of sense things. A kind of radar sense with amplified hearing and scent and touch. I can listen in on your heartbeat. It changes if you are lying or anxious. And I can read normal print with my fingertips.

Due to his exposure to radioactive material, Matt develops an extra sense which operates similar to echolocation in bats. It allows him to sense numerous things, including balance, direction, minuscule changes in air vibrations, and blankets of temperature variations, that are usually imperceptible to human beings. The radar sense is represented to the viewer as night vision with a greenish tinge.

Superhuman Hearing:

Matt’s hearing is extremely acute. Matt can clearly overhear conversations from several meters away (even on a telephone). Matt mostly uses this ability in his duties as a lawyer to hear peoples’ heartbeats (acting as a human lie detector). Matt was able to keep track of a person’s movements by listening to their heartbeat or breaths. This ability would be his greatest weakness as high-pitched noise can disorient him.

Superhuman Smell:

Matt’s sense of smell is even sharper than a dog. Matt was able to smell that the perfume his legal partner wore was brand new and exactly what she had for breakfast (‘pancakes and syrup with strawberry jam’).

Enhanced Touch:

Matt’s sense of touch is so sensitive that he can read regular print with his fingertips. Banner tests him by writing a sentence on a piece of paper. Matt reads it with his fingers and repeats to David what the paper says: ‘I don’t believe you’. Matt’s sensitivity allows him to take a ‘photograph’ of people with their consent ( rubbing his hands over the contours of a person’s face and committing it to memory). Matt discovers David’s secret by touching The Hulk’s face and holding it as he transforms back. Matt says “ David…you poor soul…” as he remembers Banner’s ‘photograph’.

Martial Artist/Acrobat:

Matt Murdock is a very fit man who is extremely skilled in martial arts. As Daredevil, Matt’s fighting style incorporates boxing, kung-fu, and karate. Daredevil could take down street criminals with ease, defeat a professional hit woman in a hospital and single-handedly took down multiple gangsters at Fisk’s headquarters. Matt also rigorously trained himself in gymnastics and excelled in it. He could do several agile flips with ease. He is also highly skilled with moving over rooftops and climbing buildings.

Daredevil’s Billy Club:
Matt’s primary weapon is a billy club that he uses in a variety of uses in his fight against crime:

Daredevil putting his billy club to use

Baton: Daredevil mainly uses the billy club as a close combat weapon that could bludgeon people and trip up criminals when thrown. The club could be used as a stop to silence closing doors or prop open an elevator.
Grappling Hook: The billy club can converted into a grappling hook. The billy club shoots a plunger onto a structure and then Daredevil can descend or ascend on the cable. Matt does this to Fisk’s building from a nearby rooftop.

TV Movie:

The Trial of the Incredible Hulk 

Debut: May 7th 1989 on NBC

After the events of The Incredible Hulk Returns, David Banner makes his way towards a large city with the hopes of renting a room and staying buried. Unknown to him, the city he arrives in is under the control of a powerful criminal named Wilson Fisk. When David travels on the subway, two of Fisk’s men harass a woman named Ellie Mendez. David reluctantly attempts to save a young woman but ends up being attacked and transforms into The Hulk. After changing back, David is arrested by the police and wrongfully charged with the crime. While awaiting trial, David is approached by Matt Murdock, a blind defense assigned his case. David doesn’t want any help, saying “Maybe I belong in a cage”. Matt, however, has faith in David and is determined to prove he is innocent. One night, David has a nightmare about transforming into the Hulk on the witness stand of his trial. The stress of this causes him to transform for real and the Hulk busts out of prison. Daredevil tracks the escaped David down and reveals his secret identity to win David’s trust. At Matt’s home, Matt explains how he became Daredevil and that he needs David’s help to take down Wilson Fisk. The two bond over their mutual misfortunes caused by radiation exposure and set out to save Ellie Mendez and stop Fisk.

Banner and Daredevil: Radiation Bros.

Film Notes:

Hulk and Daredevil behind the scenes

• The film was directed by Bill Bixby.

Looking quite ‘devilish’

• The film’s damsel in distress, Ellie Mendez, was played by late actress Marta Dubois. Star Trek fans will remember her as ‘Ardra’, an evil con artist pretending to be The Devil in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Devil’s Due’.

The first cameo of many…

• The most notable part of this film is that it features the very first cameo of Stan Lee in a Marvel film. Stan can be seen as one of the jury members overlooking Banner’s trial. These cameos would become Stan Lee’s signature until his death in 2018.
• There is no ‘trial’ in The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk. The trial seen in the film is actually a nightmare had by David Banner.

Conclusion:
I hope these articles gives you a better insight to these older versions of heroes that are fresh in our minds. It shows that a well crafted character can survive from generation to generation. Until Next Time!!

References:
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• Parker, R. JUNE 27, 2017 11:09AM. ‘Stan Lee Hated 1970s ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ TV Series’, The Hollywood Reporter
• Stan Lee, December 27, 2006, “Stan Lee on Realism in the World of Comic Heroes” NPR.com.
• 2019. Hulk( comics), Wikipedia
• Greenfield, D. Nov 9, 2018. LOU FERRIGNO: When I Was the INCREDIBLE HULK, The 13th Dimension.
• Cecchini, M. Nov 6 2016, Doctor Strange: The Wonderful Weirdness of the 1978 TV Movie, Den of Geek,
• Ryan, M. June 4,2014, The Bizarre Case of the 1978 ‘Doctor Strange’ Movie, Screen Crush
• Couch, A. November 01, 2016. ‘Dr. Strange’: The Untold Story of the 1978 TV Movie Everyone “Had Great Hopes For”, The Hollywood Reporter
• 2016, AICN COMICS Q&@ with Peter Hooten the Original Doctor Strange!, Ain’t It Cool News.
• 2019, Dr. Strange(1978 film), Wikipedia).

-JaDarrel Belser

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