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Gladiator (Melvin Potter)

The Gladiator by Alex Maleev
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceDaredevil #18 (July 1966)[1]
Created byStan Lee (writer)
John Romita Sr. (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoMelvin Potter
Team affiliationsEmissaries of Evil
AbilitiesAccomplished 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 a consistent supporter of Daredevil.[citation needed]

Potter was portrayed by Matt Gerald in the streaming television series Daredevil, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Publication history

Gladiator first appeared in Daredevil #18 (July 1966), and was created by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.

Fictional character biography

Melvin Potter was a costume designer who delusionally believed 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.[2] During his first criminal outing, he battled Daredevil before encountering his recurring enemy, the Masked Marauder.[3] Gladiator later appeared in Europe, where he again fought Daredevil again and joined the Maggia.[4] Eventually, he joined Electro's Emissaries of Evil to attack Daredevil once again.[5] Later, Gladiator aided Whitney Frost in a raid of Stark Enterprises, where he first fought Iron Man.[6]

Gladiator returned to battling Daredevil.[7][8] He later allied with the Death-Stalker,[9] and later still allied with the Beetle.[10] While under control of the Purple Man, he attacked Daredevil.[11] Gladiator had one last battle against Daredevil before deciding to reform. He began undergoing therapy from Betsy Beatty,[12] whom he later married.

After reforming, the Gladiator allied with Daredevil and Elektra against the Hand.[13] Donning his Gladiator costume again, Potter met Spider-Man.[14]

Kingpin, on behalf of a madman in his employ, pressured Potter into producing a Daredevil costume.[15] Potter later donned his Gladiator costume again to discourage a youth from a life of crime.[16]

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.[17]

In prison, Gladiator was accused of murdering two fellow inmates. Matt Murdock's law firm defended him, after Murdock's super-senses indicated that he was telling the truth about his innocence. 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 beat a confused Daredevil and moved to the sewers, heading for his Gladiator costume.[18] Gladiator then went on a rampage in Chinatown, killing innocent people and culminating in an attack on Matt and Milla in a restaurant. After being knocked out, Matt woke up in a police car to a voice claiming that Gladiator will murder his wife. Matt tracked down the Gladiator, whom he then defeated, and Milla, whom he then rescued.

After this incident, Melvin realized the weight of his actions and attempted suicide, only to be saved by Daredevil. Potter was taken back to prison and heavily sedated after repeatedly banging his head against the wall. Separately, it was revealed that Mr. Fear had secretly administered chemicals to Potter that caused him to go irreversibly insane with rage.[19]

Powers and abilities

Gladiator has no superhuman abilities. However, he is a superb martial arts fighter and is very physically powerful. As a villain, he wore thick metal armor with a helmet and metallic gauntlets. He was armed with an arsenal of edged weapons and whirling, jagged circular sawblades made of titanium, 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.[citation needed]

In civilian life, Potter is an accomplished clothing designer, proficient in drafting, design and sewing.[20]

Other versions

In the alternate time of the 2005 "House of M" story-line, Gladiator appears as an assassin of the Kingpin.[21]

The Ultimate Marvel universe version of Gladiator is an enemy of Spider-Man, and a crazed madman obsessed with "the emperor".[22]

In other media

  • Melvin Potter appears in Daredevil, portrayed by Matt Gerald.[23][24][25] Introduced in the first season, this version is an inventor who was forced by Wilson Fisk to make protective suits for him. Upon learning of this, Matt Murdock convinces Potter to make him a suit in exchange for ensuring Fisk cannot threaten him anymore. In the third season, Fisk forces Potter to make a replica of Murdock's suit for Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter to frame Murdock as a criminal. Potter later attempts to corroborate the lie, but is arrested for violating his parole and assaulting federal agents.
  • Melvin Potter appears in the Daredevil novel Predator's Smile, written by Christopher Golden.


  1. ^ Conroy, Mike (2004). 500 Comicbook Villains. Collins & Brown. ISBN 1-84340-205-X.
  2. ^ Brevoort, Tom; DeFalco, Tom; Manning, Matthew K.; Sanderson, Peter; Wiacek, Win (2017). Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History. DK Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 978-1465455505.
  3. ^ Daredevil #18
  4. ^ Daredevil #22-23. Marvel Comics (New York).
  5. ^ Daredevil Annual #1
  6. ^ Iron Man #7-8. Marvel Comics (New York).
  7. ^ Daredevil #63
  8. ^ Daredevil #85. Marvel Comics (New York).
  9. ^ Daredevil #113-114. Marvel Comics (New York).
  10. ^ Daredevil #140. Marvel Comics (New York).
  11. ^ Daredevil #154. Marvel Comics (New York).
  12. ^ Daredevil #166. Marvel Comics (New York).
  13. ^ Daredevil #173-175
  14. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #77. Marvel Comics (New York).
  15. ^ "Born Again" storyline, Daredevil #230-231. Marvel Comics (New York).
  16. ^ Marvel Comics Presents #98. Marvel Comics (New York).
  17. ^ Daredevil vol. 2 #67-70. Marvel Comics (New York).
  18. ^ Daredevil vol. 2 #95. Marvel Comics (New York).
  19. ^ Daredevil vol. 2 #96-99. Marvel Comics (New York).
  20. ^ Daredevil #18. Marvel Comics (New York).
  21. ^ House of M: Avengers #3. Marvel Comics (New York).
  22. ^ Bendis, Brian Michael (w), Bagley, Mark (p). Ultimate Spider-Man #60. Marvel Comics (New York).
  23. ^ White, Brett (March 11, 2015). "Netflix's 'Daredevil' Announces Casting for Turk, Gladiator & More" Archived 2015-03-13 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  24. ^ Abraham, Phil (director); Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (writer) (March 18, 2016). "Dogs to a Gunfight". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 2. Episode 2. Netflix.
  25. ^ Fraser, Toa (director); Sarah Streicher (writer) (October 19, 2018). "Aftermath". Marvel's Daredevil. Season 3. Episode 7. Netflix.

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