Gladiator (Melvin Potter)
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Art by Alex Maleev
|First appearance||Daredevil #18 (July 1966)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)
John Romita Sr. (artist)
|Alter ego||Melvin Potter|
|Team affiliations||Emissaries of Evil
|Abilities||Accomplished clothing designer
Superb martial artist
Peak physical condition
Wears thick metal armor
Possesses arsenal of edged weapons
Gladiator (Melvin Potter) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Potter was initially depicted as a supervillain and one of the first enemies of the superhero Daredevil. In civilian life, he is a costume-designer at the Spotlight Costume Shop in New York City. He eventually reformed and became one of the staunchest supporters of Daredevil.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January 2015)
Fictional character biography
Melvin Potter was a costume designer who had the deluded belief that he was far better than any superhero. In order to prove his point, he designed a suit of battle armor for himself, complete with deadly wrist blades, and became known as the Gladiator. He battled Daredevil in his first criminal outing, and then met the Masked Marauder, another enemy of Daredevil's. Gladiator later appeared in Europe, where he fought Daredevil again, and was then invited to join the Maggia. He joined Electro's Emissaries of Evil to attack Daredevil again. Later, Gladiator aided Whitney Frost in a raid of Stark Enterprises, where he first fought Iron Man.
Gladiator later battled Daredevil again. Some time later, he fought Daredevil aboard an airplane in flight. He later allied with the Death-Stalker, and later still allied with the Beetle. While under control of the Purple Man, he attacked Daredevil. Gladiator had one last battle against Daredevil before deciding to reform. He began undergoing therapy from Betsy Beatty, whom he later married.
Potter was pressured into producing a Daredevil costume for a madman in the employ of the crime lord known as the Kingpin, but Murdock comes to tell him to play along. Potter later donned his Gladiator costume again to discourage a youth from a life of crime.
He was later forced into working for the Kingpin's elderly predecessor Alexander Bont, who claimed that Potter had a four-year-old daughter that he had never met and that she would die if Potter did not help. Gladiator brought Murdock to Bont, who attempted to kill Murdock and assume his old mantle but instead died of a drug-induced heart attack. The Gladiator was defeated by the new White Tiger, and went back to prison.
Gladiator is accused of murdering two fellow inmates and Matt Murdock's law firm is defending him. Murdock's super-senses indicate that he is telling the truth when he claims he is innocent. However, at the end of the issue, taunted by another inmate, Gladiator snaps his handcuffs and brutally assaults the inmate and a corrections officer, only to surrender to another officer and claim once again that he didn't do it. Later, after being broken out of an armored car, Melvin beats a confused Daredevil and moves to the sewers, heading for his Gladiator costume. Gladiator then goes on a rampage in Chinatown killing innocent people and then attacking Matt and Milla in a restaurant. After being knocked out, Matt reawakens in a police car to hear a voice that Gladiator will murder his wife. Matt finds the Gladiator and Milla, rescues Milla, and defeats the Gladiator. Melvin realizes what he has done and attempts suicide, but is saved by Daredevil. Potter is taken back to prison, and is heavily sedated after repeatedly banging his head against the wall. It is revealed that Mr. Fear had secretly administered chemicals to Potter that caused him to go irreversibly insane with rage.
Powers and abilities
Gladiator has no superhuman abilities. However, he is a superb martial arts fighter and is very physically powerful. He wore a thick metal armor with a helmet and metallic gauntlets, and was armed with an arsenal of edged weapons and whirling, jagged circular sawblades made of titanium steel, one mounted on each gauntlet. Small rotors in the gauntlets cause the blades to rotate at high speeds, and the whirling blades could also be detached to serve as short-range missile weapons.
In civilian life, Potter is an accomplished clothing designer, proficient in drafting, design and sewing.
House of M
In other media
- Melvin Potter is a recurring character in Daredevil, portrayed by Matt Gerald. He is a craftsman that tailors protective suits for Wilson Fisk and his associates. Designs for and components of his Gladiator costume from the comic books appear scattered around his workshop in various episodes. He fights with circular sawblades, albeit only as an improvised weapon as he throws them at Matt. His relationship with Betsy Beatty is hinted at, as he works exclusively for Fisk (and Fisk's allies) because Fisk has threatened to harm Betsy if Melvin does not comply or if anyone shows up that isn't in Fisk's company. He makes his introduction in the episode "Shadows in the Glass," when Fisk has him tailor a new suit for Leland Owlsley after Owlsley gets roughed up by Matt. When Matt learns about Melvin a few episodes later, and learns about Fisk's hold on him, he convinces Melvin to tailor him a red costume and promises to protect Betsy from being harmed by Fisk. By the season one finale, Melvin has finished his first suit, in time for Matt's takedown of Fisk. Melvin explains the design noting which areas of the armor are more protective against bullets and knives. In season 2, Melvin provides Matt with a new mask capable of withstanding gunfire after his old mask is damaged by a bullet during a confrontation with Frank Castle. When Matt shows up at Melvin's workshop in "Penny and Dime" to pick up the new helmet, Melvin is seen wearing a prototype version of his trademark Gladiator armor under his shirt. He asks Matt if he would like to see the full suit, though Matt politely declines. In the season 2 finale, Melvin gives Matt his trademark billy club with grappling hook capabilities. He also tailors a new uniform for Elektra before their final battle with the Hand.
- Potter appeared in the Daredevil novel Predator's Smile, written by Christopher Golden.
- Daredevil #18
- Daredevil #22-23
- Daredevil Annual #1
- Iron Man #7-8
- Daredevil #63
- Daredevil #85
- Daredevil #113-114
- Daredevil #140
- Daredevil #154
- Daredevil #166
- Daredevil #173-175
- Spectacular Spider-Man #77
- During the Born Again storyline, Daredevil #230-231
- Marvel Comics Presents #98
- Daredevil vol. 2 #67-70
- Daredevil vol. 2 #95
- Daredevil vol. 2 #96-99
- Daredevil vol. 1 #18
- House of M: Avengers #3
- Ultimate Spider-Man #60
- Surjik, Stephen (director); Steven S. DeKnight (writer) (April 10, 2015). "Shadows in the Glass". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 1. Episode 8. Netflix.
- Gomez, Nick (director); Steven S. DeKnight and Douglas Petrie (writer) (April 10, 2015). "The Path of the Righteous". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 1. Episode 11. Netflix.
- DeKnight, Steven S. (director); Steven S. DeKnight (writer) (April 10, 2015). "Daredevil". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 1. Episode 13. Netflix.
- Abraham, Phil (director); Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (writer) (March 18, 2016). "Dogs to a Gunfight". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 2. Episode 2. Netflix.
- Girotti, Ken (director); Joe Pokaski (writer) (April 10, 2015). "In the Blood". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 1. Episode 4. Netflix.
- Hoar, peter (director); Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (writer) (March 18, 2016). "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 2. Episode 13. Netflix.
- Gladiator at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe