Kingpin: A New Leaf
Matthew Rosenberg makes the case for a change in Wilson Fisk!
Three issues in to the new KINGPIN series, Wilson Fisk seems to be nicer than ever.
Wait a sec, did you say nicer? Yes, I did.
The Kingpin has returned to New York City under the direction of writer Matthew Rosenberg and he’s determined to be fair and honest in all of his dealings this time around. But can we trust him? We spoke with Matthew who told us that Kingpin certainly deserves a fair shake and moreover, could be viewed as a super hero from a certain perspective.
One of the most violent characters in the Marvel Universe a noble super hero? Continue on to read the compelling case in favor of Fisk!
Marvel.com: We’re three issues into Fisk’s solo series and all signs point to him genuinely wanting to turn over a new leaf. Why should we trust him all of the sudden, especially after his actions during Civil War II?
Matthew Rosenberg: How can you not trust that face? He’s just a sweet old businessman. But seriously, I don’t want to tell the reader who to trust and who not to trust here. Wilson Fisk has done a lot of bad things, and he is honest about that. He is a man asking for forgiveness, and that is a personal thing. I hope every reader, like the characters in the book, will weigh whether or not he deserves it. And maybe some won’t think he does. The story works in that case too, I hope. Fisk genuinely wants to accomplish big changes in his life and go down a different path. Personally, I hope he can.
Marvel.com: You’ve go on record saying you wanted to portray Fisk as more of “The Godfather” than “Scarface.” What was the process like of separating the more volatile Kingpin we’ve seen and known before with the more patient and methodical one we see in this arc?
Matthew Rosenberg: The Kingpin who throws men out windows, zaps them with laser beams, or cuts their heads off with car doors is great. He is terrifying, and fun, and exciting. But he is a man who can only go so far in the world. Admittedly, it’s pretty far. But it’s not as far as he’d like and it’s not as far as I’d like. He’s a smart man though. He understands that if you leave bloody footprints everywhere you go there are a lot of places you won’t be allowed in. But the violent and impulsive Kingpin we all know and love, that’s his true nature. So it’s not so much that I am dismissing the man who beats people to death with his bare hands, but Wilson Fisk himself is doing whatever he can to suppress that man. And it’s a struggle for him on the page. There are a lot of people whose heads Fisk would love to remove, but he has bigger plans and eventually that gets in the way. But if movies have taught me anything, you can always trust a violent man to go back to his violent ways at some point.
Marvel.com: In the past he’s used extortion, murder, and blackmail among other methods to achieve his ends. How hard is it for him to go straight after years of bending and breaking the law to his will?
Matthew Rosenberg: He has always used those tactics for sure. But he’s also run legitimate businesses as well. And he is nothing if not smart. Obviously hanging people out of windows gets things done faster than negotiating, but if Fisk is determined to walk the straight and narrow he knows how. It’s just a question of patience and the world not getting in his way too much. But the world has a way of doing that.
Marvel.com: Do you think were there times in the past when Wilson Fisk was simply misunderstood? Has he always just been misunderstood?
Matthew Rosenberg: Yes. 100%. If you look at Kingpin and who he is, where he comes from, he has all the makings of a great Marvel super hero. He is smart, determined, and exceptional. But he was always different and he had to face a lot of adversity. Now he has a love of his city, a strong desire to make it better, and a firm belief that he knows the right way to do that. It’s no different than Daredevil or Spider-Man. The only differences are that he kills people, but so does The Punisher, and he personally profits from what he does, but so does Iron Man. It’s all a question of scope. While Spider-Man and Daredevil spend a lot of time fighting in alleys, Kingpin wages his war across the whole city. He wants a better class of crime, less dangerous for the average person. He wants a generally safer city and he is willing to get his hands dirty to get there. And just because Spider-Man and Daredevil don’t agree with Kingpin’s tactics doesn’t mean they are right and he is wrong. It just means for years they have had people like [writers] Dan Slott and Charles Soule telling their side of the story, making them look good. And now Wilson Fisk has me.
Marvel.com: How do his nemeses, both heroic like Daredevil and criminal like opposing crime bosses, feel about his new outlook on getting ahead in life? What about his associates?
Matthew Rosenberg: I don’t think anybody likes it or particularly trusts it. But your nemeses aren’t supposed to believe in you.
Marvel.com: The art style by Ben Torres in this series has been described as heavy on the noir influences, a genre known for its morally ambiguous characters and machinations. Can you tell us how the noir-ish overtones factor into Fisk’s motivations over the course of this arc and its underlying themes?
Matthew Rosenberg: Yeah, for sure. First of all, Ben is amazing. His art speaks in a language I think both avid comic fans and casual readers will get. I see a lot of Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, and Eduardo Risso in his work, and that just screams “noir” to me. But for folks not familiar with that stuff, I think the heavy shadows, the brooding characters, the worn look of the characters and world, they tell a story beyond the one I tell. As for the noir-ish elements of the story? For starters it’s not just about Fisk. Sarah Dewey, a down on her luck reporter, is one of the leads and this story is about their relationship. So Fisk’s operating in morally grey areas, his schemes, all of that plays a big part. But more than that it’s about how damaged people survive and what effect they have on each other. Nobody in this story comes out as the shiny hero, that’s not Fisk’s world. Everybody is a little broken and Fisk uses that to his advantage. Wilson Fisk is a dangerous man; a dangerous man to be enemies with and a dangerous man to be allies with. And he knows that. So watching him pull people into his circle, or watching them put themselves there, it has an ominous feeling. There are good things, but nothing good will stay.
Marvel.com: If you had to make a compelling case of why Kingpin should be given a fair shake in a sentence or two, what would you say?
Matthew Rosenberg: He’s a smart, passionate, and deeply flawed person, but he wants forgiveness. And there is no greater feeling than offering forgiveness to someone who wants to do right. Come forgive The Kingpin.
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