Photos (c) 20th Century Fox/Marvel
By Jim Beard
|Michael Clarke Duncan as The Kingpin in "Daredevil"|
Today, Marvel pauses to reflect upon the life and career of actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who left us unexpectedly at an all-too-young age and the height of his powers. Not only did he forge his own path through the twists and turns of the acting industry, he also touched the Marvel Universe by personifying two of its characters.
A native of Chicago, Duncan paid his dues with physically-demanding jobs at a young age that didn’t leave much time for acting, but helped him support his family at a time of great need. After a stint as a bodyguard to some of the biggest names in Hollywood and rap music, he made a leap into full-time acting and never looked back. Duncan’s star rose swiftly with roles in high-profile films like “Armageddon” and “The Green Mile,” the latter of which earned nominations for both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award.
In 2002, Duncan took on the persona of The Kingpin in “Daredevil,” alongside actor Ben Affleck in the title role. His total immersion in the part, for which he gained weight and spoke out about its importance, brought him even more notoriety and led to him later reprising the part on TV’s “Spider-Man: The New Animated Series.”
|Groot from "Ultimate Spider-Man"|
His distinct voice led the actor to delve deeply into lending it to several more parts in animated productions, including commercials, features and video games. One of his very last acting challenges before his untimely death came in the form of Groot, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s living plant being, in a second season episode of the animated “Ultimate Spider-Man.”
“He had that all too rare ability to be incredibly talented and warm and funny,” says Marvel Head of Television Jeph Loeb. “We were extremely lucky to have him join our show and will be dedicating the episode to him.”
“I had just watched a rough cut when I heard the news that this was one of Michael’s last, if not his last, job,” notes Brian Michael Bendis, who penned the episode. “I wish his family nothing but good wishes and condolences and I hope they take some satisfaction in that he brought his everything to this, too.”