Let’s alternate shows a bit: in the last pics from the upcoming Daredevil series, we got our first, proper look at the show’s main villain, The Kingpin, who’ll be portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio. The series will be an origin story for Kingpin as much as it is for Daredevil, so we’ll see the two of them struggling for the control of New York City‘s soul while making their first steps. Kingpin is an established character from the comics (and my personal favourite in the entire Marvel Universe), and he already had a couple of live action portrayals: the first one was in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, portrayed by John Rhys-Davies. In the tv movie, he was the true responsible of the crime David Banner was arrested for, and Matt Murdock accepted to defend Banner hoping to bring down Kingpin in the process (obviously, the mobster escaped capture as usual). The second one was in the Daredevil movie, with Michael Clarke Duncan giving an awesome portrayal of the character. Unfortunately, in the script he was little more than the average mob boss, so it all ended up with a fist fight. On the paper, D’Onofrio’s version will give justice to the character, exploring him more deeply in his many sides…but in the meanwhile, let’s see who he is in the comics.
Born in New York City, Wilson Fisk came from an extremely poor family, and was often bullied by his peers at school because of his obese constitution. Continuously put aside and mocked, Fisk grew up as a recluse, and when his parents died (it’s still unknown why or when), he was alone in a world in which everybody were “normal” and he was not. His resolution to become the absolutely best in whatever he did arrived around ten years old, and at twelve he had already killed his first victim. Beliving brute strength brought power, Fisk decided to use his body mass to his own advantage, and started learning martial arts on his own, finally finding in sumo the perfect way for himself: he turned most of his bulk into pure muscle, gaining a remarkable strength, especially for a young boy. He even studied by himself, mainly stealing books from libraries: he got fascinated by Political Science, and nurturing his brain and knowledge just as much as he did his body, he gained a wide culture and a university graduate-level of instruction. When both body and mind were prepared, Fisk started his own climbing to power, and took over some gangs from the NY slums, organizing them like they were part of a business, and leading them with authority, charisma and brutality. Fisk organised his criminal career as a political one, and with his strategical ability he led his small gang to become one of the richest and most powerful in town. He obviously attracted the attention of other mob bosses, one of which, Dante Rigoletto, was quite impressed by the young man’s skills, and offered him to become his right-hand man; as a response, Fisk killed Rigoletto with his bare hands, and won his men by promising (and giving) better rewards than the late boss: Fisk’s gang, having absorbed Rigoletto’s, was now remarkably big, so big it was perceived as a menace by the Maggia (a powerful Italian American crime syndicate) and HYDRA (a terrorist, Nazi-inspired group). With both Maggia and HYDRA allying to take him down, Fisk left New York and went to Japan…but it wasn’t exactly a retreat.
In the Far East, Wilson Fisk (who now considered himself a Kingpin of Crime) widened his fortune starting a spice business, and gaining contacts with the local criminality (first of all The Hand). With his wealth back, he came back to the United States, and from the shadows he pulled the strings of a gang war that weakened his enemies, allowing him to take control. Presenting himself as a “humble dealer in spices”, Fisk was also able to step into New York’s society, becoming a renowned philanthropist and an admired businessman. Secretely, he strenghtened his grip over every single criminal activity in New York, becoming the Kingpin he had always wanted to be, always careful not to leave any trace of himself behind, and avoiding direct involvement when possible. As a rich socialité, he met the love of his life, Vanessa, who became his wife and his only source of true happiness; together they got married and had a son, Richard, and Vanessa tried her best to keep Richard far from his father’s criminal activities, arriving to the point of sending him to Europe to study (Richard would have then faked his death in order to tie bonds with his family). While posing as a honest businessman, Fisk made himself known as Kingpin in the underworld, and expanded his empire from New York to Las Vegas, while all the other bosses paid him respect, both out of fear or convenience. After two decades, The Kingpin was the most powerful criminal in the entire United States, and only the growing number of “superheroes” posed a serious threat to his business. When one of the more annoying of them all, Spider-Man, apparently “retired”, Kingpin decided it was time for his ultimate take on the Maggia, who still had the virtual monopoly of the country’s criminality. Uniting a coalition under his leadership, Kingpin started a major crimewave directed towards New York City, both a demonstration of strength and an open war against his rivals in Maggia. A returned Spider-Man stopped his plan, but the undertaking was just postponed: nothing could prevent Wilson Fisk from getting what he wanted.
Wilson Fisk is an extremely intelligent and cunning man, a master tactician and a skilled politician, with charm and charisma enough to convince anybody of his cover identity of a rich and generous philanthropist. Secretely, however, he is and has always been the Kingpin of Crime, leader of the non-Maggia East Coast criminality. Kingpin mantains his dominion with both his political and intellectual skills and his iron grip: he hires the best henchmen at disposal, including some psychos nobody wants to work with such as Bullseye and Typhoid Mary, and he often manipulates superheroes in taking down his enemies without them even realising it. Brain is not his only skill, as he excels even speaking of brawn: his apparently obese figure is actually composed entirely of muscles, and he’s just as strong as a normal human can be, capable of defeating in hand-to-hand combat even super-powered adversaries like Spider-Man, or some of the best combatants in the world, such as Captain America. He’s a master of sumo and of many other martial arts (judo, wrestling and hapkido among the others), and displays an unusual agility and speed for a man his size. A criminal genius, Kingpin leads the criminal world as a political business, and has organised it in a force to be reckoned with: even if from the shadows, never been convicted, Wilson Fisk is the one and true ruler of New York City…and everyone is well aware of it.