How do you pick a best friend? Sometimes, it’s obvious. Other times, it’s like picking a favorite child (or Star Wars movie). But how do you pick a best enemy? Usually, the pick you, because – well that’s just how it works – but sometimes it’s more complicated than that.
Kingpin is one of the greatest Marvel villains, and he belongs in the Rogues Gallery of two of its greatest heroes: Spider-Man and Daredevil. But who is he a bigger villain to? Does he square off against one better than the other? Let’s take a look at some ways Kingpin is better for Spidey or The Man Without Fear.
10 Spider-Man: There’s Plenty To Go Around
Kingpin’s defining feature is how much real estate he takes up. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a hard problem to solve and in that way, he makes sense as a Spider-Man villain. Spidey’s best villains tend to be exaggerations of their personas, and Kingpin is no different. Kingpin is introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #50 as a crimelord in New York City. He has no superpowers as such, and he existed mainly to provide a comic book-sized version of a real-world type villain Spidey would encounter.
9 Daredevil: The Street
While Spider-Man’s adventures can range pretty wildly, from stopping an average robbery at a convenience store to saving the Earth from psychotic cosmic aliens, Daredevil’s concerns are by and large his local neighborhood. The Man Without Fear is synonymous with Hell’s Kitchen in New York City and over the years he has become its caretaker. Kingpin’s ambitions. while robust, are likewise largely on New York and criminal enterprises closer to the ground, making them more natural, and often direct, enemies. Since the 1980s, they’ve gone head to head many times.
8 Spider-Man: Kingpin Made The Black Cat
While it may not exactly be personal, Kingpin is responsible for one of the more disruptive influences in Spider-Man’s life. Felicia Hardy was a normal cat burglar (so far as that goes) until she submitted to a naturally insane science experiment by Kingpin. This experiment gave Hardy the ability to psionically manipulate probability fields, or in other words, project bad luck onto people. With the power of her namesake, Black Cat became a real problem for people if she crossed their path. Sometimes this worked out for Spider-Man when he and Black Cat were working together. But when they weren’t…
7 Daredevil: On The Same Level
Since Kingpin has no powers of his own, and Matt Murdock’s are limited to his heightened senses, the two are arguably more evenly matched. Spider-Man, despite the distinct size advantage, has Kingpin outclassed in the abilities department by a fair stretch.
Daredevil trained as a boxer, and Kingpin trains every day in a variety of different skills against world-class martial artists. Both are excellent hand to hand combatants who know how to throw and take a punch. In a battle for the street, it makes sense that theirs would be a street fight.
6 Spider-Man: Kingpin Just Really Hates Him
Sometimes it’s not about ideas or philosophy or the principle. Sometimes, you just want to smash things. That’s pretty much how it is with Kingpin and Spider-Man. Case in point: early in the 80s, a classic story for Wilson Fisk. Kingpin had amassed a significant criminal empire in New York City. His wife Vanessa had enough, though and gives him an ultimatum. Leave crime behind, or she leaves. She gives him 24 hours to decide. What does he with his last 24 hours as a crimelord? He tries to kill Spider-Man. And when that last day of being the absolute worst is up and Kingpin hasn’t succeeded, he just walks away.
5 Daredevil: It’s Personal
Oh, it’s personal. After Wilson Fisk believes Vanessa has died, he goes back to a life of crime. This leads him into conflict with Daredevil. When Kingpin walked away from his criminal life, he turned over sensitive files on many of his underlings to the authorities. These are the same underlings that he thinks have killed Vanessa. Matt Murdock was tangled up on the legal side and Kingpin discovers his true identity. Daredevil’s worst fears of being discovered are realized in Hell’s Kitchen as Kingpin destroys Murdock, personally and professionally. But that’s not the worst thing he did.
4 Spider-Man: Also Kind Of Personal
Kingpin always has his hand in something. That’s impressive, considering how big they are, but the fact remains he’s always working an angle. During the Civil War crisis, Kingpin tries to jam Captain America by selling out his location to Iron Man. When this doesn’t work, and Spider-Man joins Iron Man by publically revealing his identity, Kingpin does what he does and goes after Spidey personally. Aunt May is nearly killed by an assassin, which leads Peter Parker to hand Kingpin one of the most brutal – and humiliating – takedowns of his entire life.
3 Daredevil: Shades of Gray
Spider-Man tends to view things in black and white. There’s right and there’s wrong, with little wiggle room in between. Matt Murdock is a little older, and a little more experienced with how things work not just on the street, but in the courtroom. Law and order is often a deal. A plea. A negotiation.
Daredevil, it must be said, is a vigilante. He operates outside the system. Technically Spider-Man does too, but his position relative to the law is not one of obstruction or evasion. He’s their support. Kingpin, in his own way, wants order. There’s a shaky middle ground that often happens between military and political rivals where compromises are made for the greater good.
2 Spider-Man: Kingpin Isn’t Just The Street
Despite the fact that Kingpin is not really a physical threat to Spider-Man, his criminal aspirations stretch far beyond New York City. At various times, Wilson Fisk has been involved with The Hand, HYDRA and the Emissaries of Evil. Kingpin has brokered with mafia dons and criminal gangs all over the world, and as much as Spider-Man would like to only be the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, this just isn’t possible. Kingpin represents the uncertain and shadowy horizon Peter Parker sees when he slings over the skyscrapers of Manhattan. There’s always a bigger fish.
1 Daredevil: Elektra
Perhaps the most significant event of Daredevil’s history is the death of his lover and sometime rival, Elektra. This was the result of the Kingpin and went far beyond revealing Matt Murdock’s identity and destroying his public and personal lives. At the time, Elektra was an assassin for hire and Kingpin sent her to kill Murdock’s friend and associate Foggy Nelson. When she ultimately didn’t go through with it, he sent Bullseye after her and she was killed. This single horrible event made a profound impact on Daredevil and comic book fans alike.
Kingpin has long been a violent thorn in the side of both Spider-Man and Daredevil. However, he must be a bigger enemy for one of the heroes.