By now I’m sure most of you have finished streaming Marvel’s Dardevil on Netflix; but what if I told you that there was something you missed. No, I’m not talking about the countless Easter Eggs of the series. Instead, forget Foggy Nelson, Wilson Fisk and even Matt Murdock for a moment because there is one character that is not only the most overlooked, but also one of the most important in the history of Daredevil: Hell’s Kitchen itself.
When Daredevil was first created back in the mid 1960s, Hell’s Kitchen was a neighborhood ruled by crime, mob warfare and an extremely violent Irish mob known as The Westies. As an Irish-American lawyer/vigilante struggling to make his city a safer place, this setting made perfect sense for this street-level Avenger; but not so much today. Today, Hell’s Kitchen is very different and is now home to clubs, fancy restaurants and even some high-end hotels. Sure there’s still a lot of old-world charm, but it is nowhere near the hotbed of corruption and violence it was in the 60s.
If Matt Murdock is in his late 20s or early 30s in the TV show his Irish family would have been one of the last left in the neighborhood. The Westies were broken in the mid-80s, which is about when Murdock would have been born. The neighborhood’s rise would have coincided with Murdock’s maturation – every day he lived he would have seen his neighborhood improving
Marvel Studios usually tries to keep the world as true to real life as possible. So why place this new Daredevil series in a neighborhood that no longer needs any saving?
Well as I said previously, Hell’s Kitchen has been the setting for Daredevil since it’s first issue and has become its own character through the years. It’s almost impossible to tell a Daredevil origin-story without this landmark. So the real question is: HOW was Marvel & Netflix able to present a Hell’s Kitchen just as dark as the 1960s version while still maintaining the realism of the present day? The answer is The Avengers (2012).
“The Incident” – How The Avengers (2012) Turned Back The Clock On Hell’s Kitchen:
In Daredevil, we hear a couple of mentions to ‘The Incident’, but this is much more than just a simple Easter Egg to The Avengers (2012). As you’ll remember New York was attacked by an army of Chitauri Warriors and Leviathan Ships. Despite the Avengers being able to stop this attack and defeat the invading forces, most of Midtown was basically in ruins. Though the majority of the attack took place over what is Grand Central Station, so how did the damage get all the way to Hell’s Kitchen (West of 8th ave)?
Well as Captain America famous advised, anything that gets more than three blocks out should be turned back or turned to ash. Containing ground forces and the alien speeder bikes might be easier, but corralling the massive Leviathans is a much more difficult task. Between being blocks long and smashing through buildings, it’s safe to assume a few of those could have made it to the West side before they were taken out. Additionally, you have to remember all the alien tech that was thrown around. In the Marvel One-Shot Item 47, we see how a couple used some tech to start a crime spree all the way down to Florida. So if tech could make it that far, you can be sure there were repercussions to Hell’s Kitchen.
This event became so horrifying to people that they decided rebranding it as just ‘the Incident’ rather than “death and destruction raining from the sky.” A State of Emergency was even called, which led Fisk’s shell company, Union Allied getting the government funding to rebuild the West Side (aka Hell’s Kitchen) – it’s safe to assume the East Side had a different contractor. Even if the physical destruction just hit the outskirts of Hell’s Kitchen, it’s reasonable to believe that the terror and chaos was enough to undo all the growth Hell’s Kitchen had in recent years and bring gangs back into power. Though with the real Hell’s Kitchen not suffering from an alien attack, how could Marvel Studios turn the clock back physically for this neighborhood?
Recreating Hell’s Kitchen – Filming Locations For Marvel’s Daredevil:
With all the lounges, nice restaurants and Starbucks, it’d be pretty hard to pass off the real modern day Hell’s Kitchen as Marvel’s ‘neighborhood of dark corners’. So in order to get around this, Marvel scouted out places in Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side of Manhattan that could all lend themselves well to a cohesive and crowded reimagining of Hell’s Kitchen that has just as much character as the original.
Take Matt and Foggy’s go to bar for example, Josie’s. This isn’t a rebranded bar of Hell’s Kitchen or even a prop set, but actually a bar in Williamsburg Brooklyn called the Turkey’s Nest. As for the new location of Nelson & Murdock (in the Season 1 finale), that’s also in Williamsburg (the corner of Hooper and 4th to be exact). Though whereas Williamsburg could provide the dive bar and brownstones, finding a bowling alley for the show’s 3rd Episode “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” would take the crew up to Flushing Queens for White Stones Lanes. Now to be fair, we don’t exactly know if this Bowling Alley murder was meant to be in Hell’s Kitchen or not; but the pinball machine actually does bring us back to Manhattan itself.
There’s not many pinball places New York City. In fact, only one comes to mind and it made not one, but two location cameos in Marvel’s Daredevil – guess the cast & crew are pinball fans. In the Pilot episode of Dardevil “Into the Ring”, we find Foggy walking past some restaurants, a few neon signs and an advertisement for pinball. Well whereas those first two facts could literally make this any block in Manhattan, the pinball sign places this scene firmly at 26th and 3rd. Why? Because there’s only one dedicated pinball place in NYC: Modern Pinball near Kips Bay. Now sure this isn’t Hell’s Kitchen either; but as someone who’s played pinball there quite a few times with my friends, it was so much fun spotting this East Side haunt.
Actual NYC Landmarks in Marvel’s Daredevil:
Though despite repurposing different NYC locations for filming, there were actually some fairly specific references to actual Hells Kitchen locations. The first comes during the initial meeting between the Russian, Nobu, Owlsley, Madame Gao and Wesly when Owlsley bemoans the choice of venue and wishes to make the next one at Per Se. Per Se is one of – if not – the most expensive restaurants in the city and is located 3 blocks above Hell’s Kitchen in Columbus Circle.
Now there are some other scenes that take place out of/near Hell’s Kitchen, such as Madame Gao and Wilson Fisk’s roof top meeting. Despite being in a very heavily trafficked area, this rooftop is a well-kept secret of Rockefeller Center. It’s officially called the 620 Loft and Gardens and is usually a private event space. Its pristine shape confirms that Hell’s Kitchen really got the short end of the stick, and the rest of the city was rebuilt in full.
Thankfully though there was one direct location reference to Hell’s Kitchen itself, and it was the most random of all – Claire’s cat-sitting apartment. When Claire told Matt where she was cat-sitting, she said it was 54th street and 10th Ave above the liquor store. Well there is actually a liquor store right on the corner of 54th and 10th. Again, an incredibly random nod to the actual Hell’s Kitchen, but a noticeable one to anyone who’s lived around Hell’s Kitchen – or gone to a tapping of The Colbert Report half a block away.
As a lover of all things New York, I’ve been searching for more little tie ins. Such as where Fisk’s apartment was located as well as those restaurants he took Vanessa to. Thanks to some incredible commenters, we have now identified where Fisk’s apartment was as well as the first restaurant he took Vanessa too. Commenter ‘AC’ did a great job of recognizing the landmarks views in Fisks apartment as 270 Greenwich Street, 206 West Street, 143 Reade Street and 60 Hudson Street. These findings were later supported when Commenter ‘C’ ID’d Fisks apartment as the top floor of 71 Murray Street – a site usually used for filming.
After a quick search of the surroundings all of these locations and iconic buildings were confirmed. Though ‘C’ went a step further and even pointed out that the Restaurant with the ‘horizontal bottles’ was the Brasserie in the Seagram Building. Sadly, this place isn’t a ‘recently opened Italian Restaurant’ but rather an East Side French Restaurant; but it’s so satisfying to know it does exist.
As for the restaurant he took her to in “In the Blood”, it featured a view of Time Warner Center and what appears to be the stunning rooftop pool of Press Lounge to the left. This would make the ‘restaurant’ a tall (15 story or so) building facing uptown. This also makes sense since the devastation of his explosions is seen from the windows – placing this again in prime Hells Kitchen area.
So if any of my readers think they have the answers or have more pieces to the puzzle, then please let me know and I’ll update this article with more. And if you spotted something else, let me know that too.
Marvel’s Daredevil did a fantastic job of blending the fictional Hell’s Kitchen with the actual city at large. They even threw in some NSA and Measles jokes, two things that were hot topics during and in New York specifically during filming in 2014. It’s this attention to detail with creative license that makes Marvel Studios so great, and I can’t wait to see what new ‘Manhattan Easter Eggs’ they’ll bring to the rest of the Netflix Defenders series.
This marks the last of my Daredevil articles. If you want a Spoiler Free Review for this series, Easter Egg Per Episode Guide or What To Expect From Season 2, please check out my related articles on those topics. Otherwise, I’ll see you all later this year when AKA Jessica Jones hits Netflix as entry #2 in the Netflix Marvel series. So stay tuned for this and so much more!