Daredevil is frequently lauded for its action sequences, and rightly so, but it’s also home to some of the most gripping and dramatically satisfying dialogue scenes in the entire MCU. Case in point, the seminal third episode of Daredevil’s second season, which not only features one of the show’s legendary hallway fight scenes also contains an electric two-hander between Matt Murdock and Frank Castle in which they clash over their very different moralities.
Both Charlie Cox and Jon Bernthal give electric performances that are equal to the very best work they did as those characters and the tension and energy in the scene are palpable. And it seems all of that is thanks to a rogue suggestion from Bernthal that caused the scene, which was originally planned to shoot across two days, being recorded over one long night. Director Marc Jobst spoke exclusively to We Got This Covered, to promote Netflix’s One Piece, and revealed the inside story of how this moment came about.
Jobst admitted that “there was a lot of nervousness” about the episode as it was the first time the Punisher spoke and Marvel even warned him that they were concerned this scene “feels a bit like a stage play.” However, Jobst knew that he could make something special if he concentrated on the important things and trusted in the actors.
“I think it’s a combination of me feeling very confident working with actors – I’m not afraid of them – and going back to the basics of the question. What’s the story? Who the character is and what do they want? You go to those basic things. And then when you start to work with actors of the caliber of Charlie Cox and Jon Bernthal, we were rehearsing, we were shooting from five o’clock in the afternoon until five o’clock in the morning, over a period of I don’t know, maybe six nights in Manhattan in the middle of the summer, super hot on the rooftops in Manhattan, and we started rehearsing that long two-hander between the two of them, and it builds in its temperature and its intensity.”
Despite the intention being to spread out the work, a plan that evolved on the fly between “incredible pros” Bernthal and Cox led to the whole thing being shot on the same night, which likely only added to the intensity of the scene.
“And in a day of that kind of drama, you can really only shoot maybe six, seven, eight pages maximum at a day with these scenes that were like 14, 15, 16 pages long. So it means you would have to break the day, and then come back to it and find the same intensity. The next night, we started rehearsing it, we started shooting it. And then Charlie turned around at one stage to John and said, “Should we just do this all tonight?” And I’m saying, “But it’s like 15 pages long.” And they said, “Yeah, but it’s just the two of us.” And so I said, “Okay, do you know it?” Because very often, they just learn a day’s dialogue. And because they’re such incredible pros, of course, they knew it, because they’ve learned the whole thing. You can’t do part of the scene on one day, and then learn the second part of the scene for the next day.”
Something like this makes it clear once again why there was no question that both Bernthal and Cox deserved to return to the Marvel world even following the dissolution of Netflix’s Defenders Saga. And return they shall in next year’s Daredevil: Born Again Disney Plus series (although that’s currently being held up by the strikes). No doubt that will showcase some bone-crunching corridor clashes for ol’ times’ sake, but hopefully it’ll find room for these kinds of meaty character moments as well.