WARNING!!!! POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR “DAREDEVIL”
The first season of Marvel's "Daredevil" debuted in its entirety on Netflix last week and has garnered nothing but high praise from critics and fans alike; primarily because of its cinematography, fight scenes and characterization. As the first of Marvel's Netflix series that will lead into the Defenders crossover miniseries, there were several winks and foreshadowing elements to the comic books, the MCU as a whole, but of particular note elements that could very well tie into a potential second season and even the Iron Fist TV series still in development.
The biggest piece of foreshadowing involves Stick (Scott Glenn, Sucker Punch), who was the mentor of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, “Boardwalk Empire”) and trained him as a child. Stick returns to Hell’s Kitchen 20 years later to enlist Matt’s help in stopping a Japanese criminal consortium in league with the Kingpin from obtaining a biological weapon known as “Black Sky” (more on that later). In spite of some philosophical and moral differences between Murdock and Stick, the mission gets accomplished and Stick reports back to a partially obscured colleague on the matter. The mysterious figure then questions if Murdock will “be ready when the gate opens”, to which Stick replies, “I have no idea”.
There has been rampant fan speculation as to the identity of the man Stick was talking to, but judging from his attire and litany of bodily scars, it seems almost certain that he is Stone, one of Stick’s other favored pupils and member of The Chaste, a mystic martial arts enclave whose primary function is to combat The Hand, a demonic ninja cult. If that is true, it stands to assume that the opening of the gate and constant hints by Stick as to his motives for seeking Murdock out and training him reference some sort of upcoming conflict between the series’ version of The Chaste and The Hand.
Speaking of The Hand, the Japanese crime syndicate that Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”) is allied with is said to have ties to the Yakuza but it is never outright stated who they are. They are led by a man named Nobu (Peter Shinkoda, “Falling Skies”) a Japanese businessman who is characterized as “unsettling” by Leland Owlsley (Bob Gunton, The Shawshank Redemption) for being completely stoic and unfazed by the freezing temperatures during a meeting atop a skyscraper. Murdock also took note of his disturbingly strong heartbeat before their fight, during which he wore bright red ninja garb. These details almost certainly designate Nobu as a member of The Hand, which is seemingly backed up by Fisk’s fear-laden cautiousness in opposing him outright, for fear of reprisal from his group.
Another potential connection to The Hand also involves the city block of property that Nobu acquired from Fisk on behalf of his organization for some as-yet unknown purpose. Purely speculating, this could tie into Shadowland, a prison/temple from the comics constructed by Daredevil on the ruins of a Hell's Kitchen building which was leveled by the assassin, Bullseye (who is rumored to be making an appearance in the almost certain second season). The Shadowland story arch saw Murdock become the leader of The Hand and wage an increasingly violent war against crime in Hell’s Kitchen; which was later revealed to be the result of him becoming possessed by The Beast, the primordial entity whom The Hand serves. This could also be involved with the statement Stone made to Stick about Murdock “being ready”, alluding to the assumption that Stick and The Chaste trained Murdock to help them destroy the Beast and, by extension, The Hand.
In the seventh episode, “Stick”, Murdock and his mentor seek to intercept a shipping container from Nobu said to be transporting a deadly biological weapon which turns out to actually be a child called Black Sky. Who this child is, what exactly makes him so dangerous and what Nobu plans to use him for are never revealed as Stick murders the boy while Murdock is fighting Nobu’s men. The lengths that Stick went through to stop Nobu and his organization from gaining possession of the child and his description as a weapon imply that he is gifted with powers. While this would make him seem more than likely a candidate as one of the Inhumans, Nobu’s statement that finding another Black Sky is rare but possible, it’s more than likely that they are supernatural in nature; one theory is that Black Sky is a codename The Hand uses to refer to corporeal manifestations of the Beast. Of interesting note, the map that identifies the city block of property owned by Nobu has the words “Black Sky” in Japanese written across it, which could further tie into the Shadowland theory.
Now, on to the Iron Fist connections. Wilson Fisk’s syndicate traffics in a particular brand of Chinese heroin nicknamed “Steel Serpent”. The bags of product are even marked with a peculiar curvy, red line meant to invoke a snake. These are the exact name and symbol of a character from the Iron Fist comic. Steel Serpent (also known as Davos) was born in the ancient city of K’un-Lun and is, along with Iron Fist, one of the Immortal Weapons; the champions of the Seven Capitals of Heaven. His father was Lei-Kung the Thunderer, responsible for training those who inherit the Iron Fist legacy, which Davos sought to take for himself. After failing to do so numerous times, he eventually allied himself with the Crane Mother, ruler of the city of K’un-Zi and became her champion, Steel Phoenix, after the WWI era Iron Fist murdered her previous one, and she only gives birth to a new one every 300 years. From all of this, you can bet that Davos or the other Immortal Weapons will make an appearance or at least be mentioned in the upcoming “Iron Fist” and/or ”Defenders” TV series.
On the subject of Crane Mother, let’s turn our attention to Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) another of Fisk’s associates. She is the one responsible for the trafficking of the Steel Serpent heroin, using couriers whom have willingly blinded themselves in service to some vaguely alluded to higher purpose. An early hint as to her not so normal nature is when she revealed to Fisk that not only has she known that he secretly understood Chinese and Japanese the entire time she’s known him, but that she herself speaks English. Fisk inquired as to what other languages she could speak, to which her reply was, “All of them”. Later, after she and Leland Owlsley try and fail to murder Fisk’s girlfriend Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer, Man of Steel), Gao opts to cut her losses and return to her homeland. When Leland asked if she meant China, she elusively answered that it was “a considerable distance further”. On top of that, when Daredevil confronted her as her production warehouse was burning down and demanded answers about Fisk, she knocked him clear off his feet with a single palm-strike to the chest. This mountain of evidence points to Gao actually being Crane Mother, setting her up to return in the “Iron Fist” series.
With the success of "Daredevil". Marvel has proven that they are capable of not only continuing their trend of successfully adapting their own properties but doing so in a new format across multiple platforms. As a result, further excitement is being heaped upon the next Netflix/Marvel series, "AKA Jessica Jones" (currently filming) followed up by "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist" (presumably in 2016) before concluding with "The Defenders" mini-series. By this time next year, we will see if the seeds planted in "Daredevil" actually grow into what they appear to be or into something else entirely.