Gladiator (Melvin Potter)
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Art by Alex Maleev
|First appearance||Daredevil #18 (July 1966)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
John Romita Sr.
|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 requires expansion. (January 2015)|
Fictional character biography
Melvin Potter was a costume designer who decided to become a professional criminal. 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 administered chemicals to Potter that caused his outbursts.
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 appears in the live-action Netflix series Daredevil, portrayed by Matt Gerald. He designs protective suits for Wilson Fisk and his cohorts. 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 Daredevil. 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 Potter does not comply or if anyone shows up that wasn't in the company of Fisk. In the episode "The Path of the Righteous," Daredevil finds where Melvin Potter works and has a brief skirmish with him where Melvin Potter states that the only ones that visit must be in the presence of Wilson Fisk. After Daredevil learns of Fisk's hold on him, Potter later assists Daredevil by creating a red costume (that resembles the classic comic book outfit for Daredevil) when Daredevil promises him that Fisk will never hurt Betsy again. In the episode "Daredevil," the second suit for Daredevil is later finished by Gladiator by the time Daredevil goes to confront Wilson Fisk. Potter explained the design noting which areas of the armor were more protective against bullets and knives. Daredevil removed his glove and touched the material before telling him that the suit was indeed up to standard. In the episode "Dogs to a Gunfight," he provides Daredevil with a new mask capable of withstanding gunfire after his first encounter with the Punisher in the episode "Bang" damaged his old mask. In the episode "Penny and Dime", Potter is seen wearing a prototype version of his trademark Gladiator armor asking Daredevil if he would like to see the full suit. Daredevil politely declines. In the episode "A Cold Day in Hell's Kitchen," Melvin Potter gave Daredevil his trademark billy club with grappling hook capabilities. He also made 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
- Gladiator at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe