Benjamin Donovan (Big Ben)

bigbendonovanfilmBack to Daredevil, let’s go to episode nine, Seven Minutes in Heaven, where we meet again a pretty familiar face from Season 1, Wilson Fisk. Fisk, of course, is now in jail, and we get to know his lawyer, a man going by the name Ben Donovan portrayed by Danny Johnson. Donovan appears to be managing Fisk’s business following his orders while he’s behind bars, and also takes care of his interests in the prison as well. Donovan is a pretty familiar face for the comics’ readers, not only because he’s crossed paths more than once with the show’s hero, Daredevil, but also because he’s an old acquaintance of another hero, who’ll have his own Netflix series pretty soon. Let’s see together.

Benjamin Donovan was born in HarlemNew York City. He grew up with his brother Paul, and as a teenager already he was a mountain of a man. With such a massive size (and strenght), in a block like Harlem, Ben was often in trouble, even if he meant no arm; because of his appearance, he earned the nickname Big Ben, quite a suitable one. He had a girlfriend, Shaniqua, and even married her; together they had a son, Benjamin Jr. (who obviously was called Little Ben, despite being pretty big himself), but later, for unknown reasons, they got divorced. Big Ben Donovan in the meanwhile had completed his studies and got a degree in Law, becoming a lawyer for the people of his block. One of his clients, Mimi Jenks, hired him to settle her late husband’s affairs: during their time together they grew interested in each other, and they eventually went out on a date. Dinner, play and disco, everything was going fine, until Big Ben got drunk and made his moves on Mimi, getting rejected: worried that the woman would have used the incident not to pay his services, Ben followed her, with the only result of scaring her even more. Mimi ran to the Gem Theatre, seeking help from a friend of hers: Luke Cage, the Hero for Hire. When Ben arrived and found them together, he believed Mimi had fooled him and had a relation with Luke, so he attacked him, even bigbendonovancomics1manging to knock him down a couple of times with his sheer strength; eventually, the enhanced Cage managed to knock Ben out with a single punch, and stayed with him until he came back to his senses and was sober again. Ben and Luke became fast friend, and it turned out the hero needed a good lawyer by his side. For first, Big Ben helped Luke’s girlfriend, Claire Temple, in a case involving the murder of Phil Fox: he succesfully defended her in court, and cleaned her of all charges. He stayed by Luke’s side until another lawyer, Jeryn Hogarth, became the legal assistant of the Heroes for Hire, replacing Ben. From that moment, Big Ben’s life became much more complicated and bitter.

Ben’s brother, Paul, had become the leader of a local gang, the Thunderbolts, and had come in conflict with the criminal carter Maggia; a lawyer, Bill Carver, put Paul in prison, where the Maggia easily reached him and killed him. The death of his brother proved to be a massive strike to Ben’s emotional and mental balance, and he decided to take his revenge on Carver. He hired a sniper to kill Lonnie Carver, Bill’s brother, right in front of the lawyer’s eyes, and then ordered him to kill Bill at Lonnie’s funeral. The assassin failed, and in the subsequent fight Bill Carver got superpowers and became the speedster Thunderbolt. Following that episode, Big Ben moved his vengeful sight on the Maggia, and with the help of crime boss Caesar Cicero he stole a massive drug shipment from them, promising to give the drugs to Cicero, but actually hiding them in a cemetery. With the Maggia on his trails, Ben sought protection from Cage, hoping that he and the gangsters killed each other, but Luke succesfully defeated the gangsters…only to be beaten in turn by Mountain Man Marko, sent by Cicero. Questioned by the crime boss, Ben eventually revealed the location of the drugs, but before Caesar could kill him, Iron Fist and Thunderbolt intervened to save both him and Cage. In order not to be arrested for his drug dealings or his bonds with Cicero, bigbendonovancomics2however, Ben tried to kill both Iron Fist and Thunderbolt with his gun, only to expose himself as the killer of Thunderbolt’s brother. At the end of the day, Thunderbolt died for a side effect of the mutagenic process that had given him his speed, happy to have found his brother’s killer, while Big Ben was arrested, only to be freed soon after by Tombstone, who hired him as a goon along with third-rate criminals such as Bullet and Bengal. With his lawyer career ruined, Big Ben agreed to act as a muscle for Tombstone, but also his criminal career was short lived, as the combined forces of Daredevil, Black Widow and Cloak made short work of him. Big Ben Donovan was subsequently imprisoned in The Cage, an experimental jail, where he was supposed to spend quite a lot of time…until somebody else needed his services, of course.

Benjamin Donovan was once an impulsive yet honest man, who made a living by helping others as a lawyer in Harlem, but the death of his brother completely transformed him, making him a vengeful and blood-thirsty criminal. As Big Ben, he possesses an amazing strength, able to put him on the same level of superpowered individuals such as Luke Cage or Daredevil, but he doesn’t have any superhuman ability. Dangerously smart and with an impressive size and raw strength, Big Ben Donovan has finally become the man everyone believed him to be at first sight…and he quite enjoys this new role of his.


1 Comment

  1. […] new Power Man, who was actually Shades’ son. In jail, Comanche was one of the few villains Big Ben Donovan didn’t manage to bail out: maybe it was really time for him to retire to a more tranquil […]

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