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"I'm not worried about difficult, I'm not even worried about illegal."
―Benjamin Donovan to Wilson Fisk[src]

Benjamin "Ben" Donovan is a lawyer whose education into law was funded by the Stokes Crime Family, allowing him to found the Donovan and Partners, which became notorious for representing high-profile criminals. Throughout his career, Donovan had remained loyal to the Stokes, ensuring Cottonmouth remained out of prison and protecting their interests, including Candace Miller and Shades. However, when Mariah Dillard briefly lost all her money, Donovan turned his back and worked for Bushmaster, only to return to Dillard and defended he until her death, where he was tasked with arranging her will, which included giving Harlem's Paradise to Luke Cage as per Dillard's wish.

Donovan's law work outside of the Stokes family had included being hired by Wilson Fisk, in the wake of Fisk's incarceration into Ryker's Island. Donovan and Nicholas Lee worked to not only shorten Fisk's imprisonment, but as per Fisk's requests, returning Vanessa Marianna to Fisk's side. Under the orders of Fisk, Donovan enabled Fisk to build up his criminal empire from behind bars, and arranged his deal with the FBI to be moved inside the Presidential Hotel where Fisk could still continue rebuilding his own power over the criminal underworld of New York City, while also hiring agent Benjamin Poindexter to act as Fisk's personal assassin, which Donovan had arranged for Fisk.


Early Life

Supported by the Stokes

"Mama Mabel put your ass through law school."
Mariah Dillard to Benjamin Donovan[src]

Having grown up in New York City, Benjamin Donovan had been put through law school through the financial assistance of Mama Mabel, allowing him to become a successful lawyer. Due to Mabel's help in gaining his law degree, Donovan then became loyal to the Stokes Crime Family, willing to represent them in the court of law, despite knowing full well that they were a family of criminals who were all guilty of almost every crime which he was defending them for.[6]

Stokes vs. McIvers

Donovan defends the Stokes Crime Family

"My clients owe him nothing. Or her."
"Mr. Donovan, Mrs. Stokes, this piece of paper is an agreement both men signed acknowledging a fifty percent split on everything, from the Rum Company to the club."
―Benjamin Donovan and Terence Rogers[src]

While working for the Stokes Crime Family, Donovan was then hired to travel to Kingston, Jamaica in order to assist Mama Mabel with a dispute against the McIver family, as Gwen McIver was demanding an equal share in both the Bushmaster Rum and Harlem's Paradise in the wake of her husband, Quincy McIver's death, which Mabel was refusing to hand over. As the situation got heated, Donovan had watched on as McIver accused Mabel of arranging the murder of her husband, which Mabel did not deny having involvement with.

Donovan refusing Gwen McIver's demands

Donovan then debated with Terence Rogers over what was owed to McIver, as he had denied Rogers' requests to gain fifty percent of the businesses, claiming that the Stokes never owed the McIver family anything. Rogers, however, produced a signed napkin which had been signed by both McIver and Buggy Stokes, seemingly agreeing to split the businesses, which destroyed Donovan's arguments. With their defense falling apart, Mabel responded by mocking Jamaica, which amused Pistol Pete as he laughed while Donovan considered their next move to try and win their case against the McIvers.

Donovan watches Mama Mabel's arguments

When Rogers then noted that the McIvers would undoubtedly win in an open courtroom, Donovan asked Rogers what he wanted, Rogers then told him that they needed to open all their books in court, which Donovan refused to do. Rogers then suggested that they settle these matters privately, requesting that his client gain half of their shares in both the Rum and Club, which Mabel and Pete laughed hysterically over. In response to Donovan losing their case, Mabel set fire to the McIver's home, killing Gwen as John McIver barely survived, as the Stokes continued making profits without the McIver's support.[7]

Donovan and Partners

Assisting Wilson Fisk

Donovan greets Wilson Fisk in Ryker's Island

"I'm doing everything I can to get you out but we're talking about a process that could take months, maybe years. In the interim, we need you to keep your head down, avoid trouble while you're in here. The state will jump on any infraction."
―Benjamin Donovan to Wilson Fisk[src]

Donovan founded his law firm, Donovan and Partners and was hired by Wilson Fisk when Fisk had been accused of running his criminal organization within New York City. Despite Donovan's best efforts, Fisk was sent into Ryker's Island due to the work of Nelson and Murdock. Donovan spoke with Fisk in jail where he promised that his firm was doing everything that they could to get him freed. Fisk then asked about Vanessa Marianna, who Donovan claimed hoped to come to see him soon, which Fisk refused. Donovan recommended that while he was in prison, Fisk keep his head down and to not get involved with any other criminal activity.

Donovan receives Wilson Fisk's instructions

Donovan continued his work to try and get Fisk freed, meeting him at Ryker's where Fisk ordered Donovan to assist with Stewart Finney's legal case and pay the rent on the Andrea Valdez' home. Despite all Donovan's objections as he had previously advised Fisk not to get involved with any criminal activity within the prison in order to avoid any unwanted attention, but Fisk then ordered him to get it done and ensure that the transactions were untraceable. Despite his reluctance for Fisk to do this sort of work once again, Donovan still got the tasks completed as he was instructed as quickly as possible for Fisk.

Donovan is ordered to collect the Punisher

Finally, Fisk ordered Donovan to pay off one of the guards at Ryker's Island in order that he could bring Frank Castle to Ryker's. Donovan had another meeting with Fisk to move his final funds to bribe all the guards into joining his side, although Donovan warned that any other money he would need would now be taken from Vanessa Marianna's protection, Fisk, however, assured Donovan that he would not need any more money after this was completed. Donovan then asked if he wanted to know what the Punisher would be doing but Fisk still did not answer, noting that Donovan likely did not want to know.[1]

Fisk vs. Murdock

Donovan greets Matt Murdock inside prison

"You will refer to Mr. Fisk only as Mr. Fisk, and you will not ask any questions until I personally approve of them first."
"That's a lot of rules."
"Rules are what separate us from the animals."
―Benjamin Donovan and Matt Murdock[src]

When Matt Murdock asked to meet with Wilson Fisk inside Ryker's Island, Fisk asked Donovan to make up a legal contract, in Braille, describing the conditions of the meeting and penalties for Murdock not conforming to those conditions. Donovan greeted Murdock and listed all of their legal demands from him before he escorted Murdock to his meeting with Fisk, who was handcuffed to a table waiting for his arrival.

Donovan taking Matt Murdock to Wilson Fisk

As Murdock then asked Fisk if he was responsible for Frank Castle's escape, Donovan advised Fisk not to answer the question. However, Fisk then responded that he was not responsible. Since Donovan did not interrupt the meeting further, he departed from the room, but had continued to listen in closely as Murdock threatened to keep Vanessa Marianna from ever returning to New York City, which resulted in Fisk assaulting Murdock, while threatening to kill Foggy Nelson. Donovan had then told Murdock when the meeting was over and attempted to escort him out. However, Murdock rejected his aid, as he had walked out from the prison alone, without any assistance from Donovan.[8]

Defending Cottonmouth

Donovan frees Cottonmouth from the prison

"Next time, it would behoove you to have actual evidence. You know, something besides the dogged harassment of a misguided beat cop."
―Benjamin Donovan to Misty Knight[src]

When Cornell Stokes had been arrested for accusations that he had been involved in the murder of Rafael Scarfe, Donovan arrived at the 29th Precinct Police Station to defend him. He then showed to the New York City Police Department that there was simply no evidence presented against Stokes other than Misty Knight and Scarfe's recent testimonies, both of which could easily be questioned due to one being personally affected by Scarfe's death, as her emotions clouded her judgment.

Donovan walks away free with Cottonmouth

But before Stokes and Donovan left, they were confronted by the furious Knight, however, Stokes was unintimidated by her attempts to threaten him and called her dog chasing her sticks. But Knight said that she promised Stokes will be seen in the prison where he belonged in the wake of Scarfe's murder, however this had merely made Stokes laugh loud as he then walked outside with Donovan, who handed Priscilla Ridley the papers he had filled out before Stokes was driven back to Harlem's Paradise to enjoy his freedom thanks to all of Donovan's successful work.[9]

Defending Candace Miller

Donovan stops Candace Miller's questioning

"Don't say another word, Ms. Miller. I'm representing you now."
"Is this snake your lawyer? Candace, if you're not guilty, you'll answer my questions."
"Nice try. My client isn't under arrest."
―Benjamin Donovan and Misty Knight[src]

Upon hearing that Candace Miller was being questioned over the murder of Cottonmouth, Donovan was called in to represent her, knowing that she had to be kept from revealing the truth that it was in fact Mariah Dillard who was responsible. Donovan arrived and pulled Miller away from Misty Knight who was conducting the interview, with Donovan insisting she says nothing else and left immediately with him.

Donovan takes Candace Miller out the station

While Donovan insisted that Miller must stop speaking as she had not been arrested, Knight was horrified by seeing that Donovan, who she referred to as a snake, was representing her. Donovan continued to try and remove Miller from the station while she was continuing to insist that Luke Cage was responsible for Stokes' murder, as she had been instructed to do by Dillard and Shades. With the law on his side, Donovan then took Miller out as she was not being charged, much to the annoyance of Knight who could now do nothing to stop Donovan from leaving with Miller and delay her investigation.[3]

Defending Arturo Rey III

Donovan goes to legally defend Arturo Rey III

"I find your charm disarming. This interview stops now."
"Like hell it does. Your client got caught with a–"
"Caught by whom? Luke Cage? A known vigilante."
"It was a citizen's arrest."
―Benjamin Donovan and Misty Knight[src]

Donovan was once again contacted by the Stokes Crime Family as their latest buyer, Arturo Rey III had just been arrested following his attempted murder of Luke Cage, as Donovan then entered the room to find Rey III being interrogated by Misty Knight. Donovan first made a poor joke referring to Knight's missing right arm, before he demanded that his client is allowed to go free, which Knight refused as she noted how Rey had been caught with a Judas Bullet, which was illegal, following the attempted murder of Cage.

Donovan arguing with Detective Misty Knight

Donovan, however, had then successfully argued that Cage was still a known vigilante whose involvement with their case actually held no legal strength, to which Knight had claimed that it had simply been a citizen's arrest. While Donovan pointed out that Cage had failed to read Rey his rights when he had assaulted and arrested him, Knight claimed that regardless of Cage's actions they could arrest Rey for having possession of a Judas Bullet. Donovan, however, had noted that Rey III had been granted bail by Mariah Dillard and was able to walk free immediately, much to their considerable satisfaction.

Donovan gets the police to free Arturo Rey III

With Knight unable to make any arguments that would keep Rey in her custody, Donovan then told Knight that he would see her in court, although he remained confident that it would never actually get that far. Donovan had then mockingly questioned if Knight needed a hand with taking off Rey's handcuffs before Tom Ridenhour stepped up and uncuffed him. With their arguments having been made, Donovan and Rey III then left the 29th Precinct Police Station with confident smiles on their faces, leaving Knight to be reprimanded by Ridenhour for failing to follow police procedure while questioning Rey III.[4]

Cockroach v. Cage

Donovan legally defends Cockroach Hamilton

"Speak your truth, my brother. Take your time."
"I've been fighting since I was eight years old. Had to. You know, that's Harlem all day. Survival of the fittest."
―Benjamin Donovan and Cockroach Hamilton[src]

Upon learning that Cockroach Hamilton had been brutally assaulted by Luke Cage, while he was inside of his own home, while Cage had been attempting to assist Drea Powell from his abuse, Donovan was hired to represent Hamilton. Sitting down across from Cage, and his defense lawyer, Foggy Nelson from Hogarth, Chao & Benowitz, Donovan had then requested that the lights be dimmed, since he claimed Hamilton's injuries had made him sensitive, which Cage said was an exaggeration.

Donovan legally goes against Foggy Nelson

Donovan then told Hamilton to speak his mind, as he claimed that he had been fighting all his life, while growing up in Harlem before then comparing that Cage's attack against him to being mauled by a bear, claiming that he had been helpless against Cage. When Cage tried to argue that Hamilton had been striking his girlfriend, Nelson broke up the argument before Donovan told Hamilton to continue, as Hamilton noted how he and Powell often argued but insisted that Cage had no right to burst inside his home and brutally assault him, for his claims of domestic abuse, for which there was little physical evidence of.

Donovan making their compensation request

While Donovan listened closely, Hamilton then claimed that Cage's assault was the story for his life, noting how he had been beaten up by the New York City Police Department multiple times before being sent into prison by Rafael Scarfe, for a crime that he did not actually commit. Hamilton's claims annoyed Cage, to the point that he then broke the table with his enhanced strength, leading to Donovan then making his final offer to Nelson for a single payment of one hundred thousand dollars to put this case to rest, which forced Cage to work for Piranha Jones in order to attempt to make these payments.[10]

Fall of the Stokes

Abandoning the Stokes

Donovan makes an argument to Misty Knight

"Wonderful performance. Two-handed."
"I only deal in non-fiction."
"It's outlandish and full of hearsay. Make sure you don't break my client's sunglasses. They're expensive.""
―Benjamin Donovan and Misty Knight[src]

Donovan was later informed that Mariah Dillard was almost murdered as Bushmaster had captured and tied both her and Tilda Johnson up inside her Brownstone before setting it on fire, only for them to be rescued just in time by Luke Cage. Donovan was let into the interrogation by Nandi Tyler and had then found Misty Knight interrogating Dillard over several recent acts of violence, as Donovan had demanded that the interrogation was ended immediately.

Donovan alongside Shades and Mariah Dillard

Once Donovan had questioned if Knight had a charge against Dillard, she confirmed that she did not and they then prepared to walk out. However, before they could all leave the room, Tyler had whispered something to Knight who asked Shades to stay behind, noting that his car had been identified to be close to a crime scene and he was now the suspect of the murder of Tom Ridenhour, as he was also a close friend of Comanche, the other victim found at the crime scene. Although Donovan had tried to insist that Shades was not involved, Knight gave her evidence as Shades was taken into custody.

Donovan defending Shades from Misty Knight

Donovan listened closely as Knight explained her theory on how Shades had witnessed Comanche shooting Ridenhour before he murdered Comanche. Once Knight was done, Donovan applauded her performance, making reference to her missing arm while claiming that her theory was outlandish and full of hearsay, while also insisting that Knight be careful with Shades' sunglasses. Knight asked about Shades' whereabouts on the night of the shooting, as Donovan still defended him, insisting that Shades could speak for his whereabouts and that Knight had no physical evidence to actually link him there.

Donovan dumping Shades as his legal client

Donovan had told Knight that she had nothing and that she had once again wasted his time, before Donovan then got a phone call, as he stepped out of the room to answer it, telling Shades not to speak one word to Knight. However, a phone call informed Donovan that Piranha Jones had handed the Stokes Crime Family's cash to the Stylers, and therefore Dillard could not pay Donovan for his legal services. Having learned this, Donovan had stepped back into the interrogation room and had simply explained that he would no longer represent Shades, wishing him good luck before walking out.

Donovan tells Mariah Dillard he's dropping her

With nobody paying his bills, Donovan then informed Dillard that he was quitting her service as her personal lawyer, which had enraged Dillard as she noted how Mama Mabel had paid for Donovan to go to law school and therefore he could not simply quit on them. Donovan however calmly told Dillard that he was only loyal to Dillard's money and no there was nothing left, telling Dillard not to make the situation more upsetting than it needed to be as it was simply business before walking out, which had left Dillard frustrated and angry at Donovan's sudden and unexpected betrayal to her and her entire family.[6]

Working for Bushmaster

Donovan is hired to represent Bushmaster

"Go on, tear up the club. The only thing you're gonna discover is what I already know. You have no power. I have the power. And I don't need a gun, a badge, a plastic arm to use it, see?"
"That's enough harassment of my client today. Anything else?"
John McIver and Benjamin Donovan[src]

Seeking a new client, Donovan was then almost immediately hired to represent John McIver, who had taken over Harlem's Paradise in the wake of stealing almost all money and assets from the Stokes Crime Family with the assistance of Piranha Jones. Now loyal to McIver, Donovan had greeted Misty Knight once she arrived with yet another search warrant in the wake of McIver's seeming assassination attempt against Dillard, with Knight and Nandi Tyler shocked that McIver had stolen Dillard's personal lawyer as well as her club.

Donovan tells Misty Knight to leave

Donovan then listened closely as McIver had explained that he was taking back what had belonged to him, pointing to a picture of his grandfather, Quincy McIver alongside Buggy Stokes who built up Harlem's Paradise together. Getting back to the matter at hand, Tyler noted that the New York City Police Department had two members of the Stylers in custody who were claiming that McIver had put out a hit on both Dillard and Tilda Johnson, which McIver had denied, insisting that they could not prove otherwise, while Knight asked McIver about all of the recent beheadings.

Donovan stands with his client Bushmaster

While Knight continued and questioned Bushmaster over the burning down of Dillard's Brownstone, McIver had still insisted that it had nothing to do with him and that they did not have any evidence to link him to it, telling Knight that he had the power and did not need a gun or a Prosthetic Arm to use his power. Finally, Donovan stepped up and told Knight to stop harassing his client, just as another office informed them that the search had come up empty. Once Knight and Tyler left, Donovan then checked if McIver was okay as he had looked weak, only to be told that he could leave there as well.[6]

Restoring Mariah's Fortune

Donovan returns back into Harlem's Paradise

"I'm here because it's the right thing to do. All of your holdings, Harlem's Paradise, your cash, everything has been restored. Check your phone. It's real."
"One cannot sign a contract under extreme duress."
―Benjamin Donovan and Shades[src]

Once Bushmaster had eventually been briefly recaptured by the New York City Police Department, although he had managed to escape and gone on the run, Donovan focused on restoring the stolen money to the Stokes Crime Family. Donovan had then joined Mariah Dillard as she had returned back to Harlem's Paradise, finding some candles and other ritual items which Bushmaster had left on the floor, much to Dillard's annoyance as she blamed Donovan for everything.

Donovan gives Mariah Dillard her money back

Donovan, however, insisted that he had called Dillard in order to fix the current situation, although Dillard claimed the only reason he was there was because his partnership with Bushmaster failed. Donovan informed Dillard that her money and ownership of Harlem's Paradise had been restored. As Shades questioned how this had happened, Donovan explained that due to Piranha Jones being captured and tortured when handing over the money, the transaction was not legal, telling Dillard that he had it expedited as he claimed he was going the extra mile for his client in order to regain her own trust in him.

Donovan being threatened by Mariah Dillard

As Shades questioned the situation with the police, Donovan then explained that they were not an issue as they would be tied up with litigation for years which would then keep Misty Knight from finding any real evidence against them, while Dillard's fortune, as well as all of her assets, were restored to her from the Stylers. With everything explained, Donovan questioned if this had settled things between them, which Dillard answered by grabbing Donovan by the crotch tightly, causing him considerable pain while claiming that this did not fix the situation which Donovan had caused by a long shot.

Donovan's manhood being insulted by Dillard

While twisting his testicles tightly, Dillard then began questioning if he had stolen money from her which Donovan had adamantly denied. Satisfied that he was telling the truth, Dillard then let go of her grip over Donovan's testicles and allowed him to leave Harlem's Paradise so she could then speak with Shades alone. As Donovan had then grabbed his suitcase and prepared to leave, Dillard made a mocking comment about his privates, claiming that his nickname of "Big Ben" was inaccurate, which Donovan chose to ignore before walking out of the Paradise despite now being annoyed by the comment.[5]

Defending Mariah Dillard

Donovan defending Mariah Dillard in the court

"Your Honor. I object to the prosecution's grandstanding during what should be a simple arraignment for a first time offender."
"I'm not grandstanding, Your Honor. Ms. Stokes Dillard's hands are drenched with blood."
―Benjamin Donovan and Blake Tower[src]

Donovan was called upon to represent Mariah Dillard when all of her numerous crimes had eventually caught up with her and Dillard was arrested by the New York City Police Department once she had been betrayed by Shades. Donovan stood in the court room and objected to Blake Tower's statements four separate times as Tower accused Dillard of murder in the first degree, including the murder of Cornell Stokes, as Donovan claimed that Tower had been grandstanding for the case should have been a simple one for a first time offender.

Donovan going against Blake Tower in court

However, Tower still insisted that he had not been grandstanding and had told Amanda Garmon that Dillard's hands were always drenched in blood, noting her involvement with the massacre at Gwen's while he also gave evidence that Dillard had been involved in illegal trading with Atreus Plastics with aid from Piranha Jones. While Donovan had attempted to make his defense for Dillard by claiming that she had in fact always been an upstanding member of her communities, several friends of Dillard's victims then got up and furiously yelled out abuse before being immediately taken outside under Garmon's orders.

Donovan loses his legal case to Blake Tower

Despite Donovan's efforts, Dillard's bail was still denied and she was found guilty on all counts, before told she was to be sent to Ryker's Island to serve her prison sentence, as Dillard then gave a speech in which she warned of the war coming to Harlem once she has gone, claiming that these other crime families would be scrambling to take control of the crime world without the Stokes Crime Family running Harlem. While Donovan listened, Dillard just warned how neither the NYPD nor Luke Cage would be able to stop the situation that would put innocent lives at risk, claiming that they had needed Dillard.[11]

Meeting at Ryker's Island

Donovan meets with Mariah Dillard in Ryker's

"Everyone not protected by blood or attorney-client privilege."
"I appreciate that."
"I thought you would."
―Benjamin Donovan and Mariah Dillard[src]

With Mariah Dillard now locked up into Ryker's Island, Donovan had paid her a visit as Donovan confirmed that they could speak truthfully in there, without any risk of getting overheard as it would be illegal for anyone to listen in, also noting that he had bribed the CO and ensured that the monitors were turned off. Dillard had first asked about dealing with Shades, although Donovan explained that he was now untouchable, much to Dillard's great frustration as regardless, Shades had already gone on the record so it was too late to stop him.

Donovan discusses how to get Shades killed

However, Dillard suggested that they could focus more on the jury, claiming that they could build a narrative around the widow who had been seduced by an aggressive gangster like Shades who had led her into a life of crime against her will through seduction and threats. Agreeing to this concept, Donovan noted how Shades had already confessed to numerous murders, which included Candace Miller and Comanche, while the Stokes' Revolver had been used as evidence against Dillard was her family heirloom, which Shades had actually stolen away from her in order to commit several of these murders.

Donovan gets his orders from Mariah Dillard

Donovan went on to note how Shades also confessed to tampering with Cottonmouth's corpse and therefore, in their courts of law, there would be reasonable doubt about Dillard's involvement with any of the crimes she was being accused of. Dillard then ordered Donovan to put out a hit against Shades, before questioning if her former allies had flipped, telling Donovan to have them all killed before they could consider it. Donovan confirmed she meant everyone, including Alex Wesley, noting Donovan would still be kept alive for all his legal work, as well as Sugar for giving Dillard some of his wife's clothes.[11]

Assisting Mariah Dillard

Donovan informs Dillard about Tilda Johnson

"Why? Because Tilda just lied to you?"
"No. Harlem's Paradise is the crown jewel of Harlem. It should go to someone who loves Harlem as much as I do."
―Benjamin Donovan and Mariah Dillard[src]

Knowing he would be safe, Donovan enacted Mariah Dillard's order, and ordered assassins to murder anybody who was ever associated with Harlem's Paradise or their Stokes Crime Family, with the limited exception of who Dillard had told him to protect, which was limited to family and a select few. However, when the assassination attempt on Shades failed, he requested that Donovan bring him to Ryker's Island so that he could have a one on one talk with Dillard. Once Shades had left, Donovan informed Dillard that Tilda Johnson had called and was finally ready to see her mother which Dillard accepted.

Donovan arranging for Luke Cage's next visit

Donovan arranged for Johnson to visit Dillard into Ryker's, as Dillard had desperately attempted to make peace, only for Johnson to reject her mother, not wanting anything to do with the Stokes family or their career in crime. When Johnson then prepared to leave, she had first kissed Dillard onto the lips before walking past Donovan on her way out, who had just been called by Luke Cage who also wanted to see his client. Donovan then spoke with Dillard, who was commenting on Johnson calling her mother not her mummy, before Donovan then old Dillard of Cage's phone call as they agreed to arrange a meeting.

Donovan organizes Mariah Dillard's final will

Donovan was first recruited by Dillard to write up her new will. Dillard told Donovan that the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting would be given to the Studio Museum in Harlem and her remaining millions would go to their Family First Initiative. Dillard then informed Donovan that she decided to hand Harlem's Paradise onto Cage, rather than Johnson, who would instead only gain Cornell Stokes' keyboard. As Donovan questioned why, Dillard explained that the Paradise was Harlem, and she wanted it to be left to someone who also loved Harlem as much as she did, also hoping that the Paradise would corrupt Cage.

Donovan and Mariah Dillard greet Luke Cage

Donovan was present as Cage arrived to meet with Dillard, as he had then acknowledged how their situation was highly unusual, while also being awkward for all involved. However, Cage simply told Donovan that, if he found the situation awkward, he should simply leave, which Dillard laughed at, while Donovan then accepted the suggestion and left to talk in private. However, Donovan later discovered that, during Dillard's final conversation with Cage, she had begun spitting out her blood and collapsed in Cage's arms, before dying from a poison that had been given to Dillard from Johnson's final kiss goodbye.[11]

Bequeathing Dillard's Will

Donovan asks Luke Cage to come with him

"Her leftover millions will transform the Family First Initiative into the Family First Foundation. Tilda, she left you Cornell's keyboard. And I quote, "To Carl Lucas, known on the streets of Harlem as Luke Cage, I give Harlem's Paradise.""
―Benjamin Donovan[src]

As it soon turned out, Tilda Johnson's visit was her way to get close to Mariah Dillard in order to kiss her with poisoned lips, resulting in Dillard dying a painful death inside of Ryker's Island. As her lawyer, Donovan was tasked with arranging Dillard's will, as he collected those who were mentioned in it, paying a visit to Pop's Barber Shop where Donovan found Luke Cage, while Cage was with Sugar and D.W. Griffith and told him that they needed to talk, with Cage insisting that he would not speak with Donovan at the Barber Shop.

Donovan reading from Mariah Dillard's will

Returning to Harlem's Paradise, Donovan then sat down with those mentioned in Dillard's will to inform them of her final requests for her assets. Donovan explained how the Jean-Michel Basquiat painting would be given to the Studio Museum in Harlem and her remaining millions would then go towards the initiative and help it to transform it to Family First Foundation and continue to grow in the wake of her death. Donovan had then turned towards Tilda Johnson first and informed her that Dillard had left her the keyboard which had once belonged to Cottonmouth which had seemed to satisfy Johnson.

Donovan gives Harlem's Paradise to Cage

Finally, Donovan then turned towards Cage, quoting Dillard's will as she had named him Carl Lucas and then gave him the ownership of Harlem's Paradise, much to the complete shock of both Cage and Johnson. While Johnson walked out in disgust at her mother's final insult onto her, Cage then questioned if Dillard also really said that, to which Donovan claimed that Dillard had stated Cage could not rule over Harlem from a barbershop. Donovan had calmly watched while Cage looked out over Harlem's Paradise as he then questioned if he wanted to take all this, which Cage had eventually accepted.[11]

Kingpin's Freedom

Helping Vanessa Marianna

Donovan and Nicholas Lee visit Wilson Fisk

"It's going to be more complicated than we anticipated."
"How so?"
"The federal government have now decided to charge her as an accessory. If they locate her overseas or she sets foot on U.S. soil, she will face prosecution and prison."
―Benjamin Donovan and Wilson Fisk[src]

With Wilson Fisk continuing to serve his time in Ryker's Island for his many crimes against New York City, Donovan had focused his efforts on securing his release. Donovan and Nicholas Lee went to see Fisk in person while he was eating his breakfast, informing Fisk that while his appeal was moving forward as they had originally intended, however, they also had to regretfully inform Fisk that Vanessa Marianna's return was now hitting several new setbacks, as she would be arrested as an accomplice to Fisk's crimes, as the sadden Fisk ordered them to leave upon hearing this.[12]

Donovan and Lee trying to stop Wilson Fisk

In order to get Fisk out of Ryker's Island, Donovan had then arranged payments for Jasper Evans to attack Fisk, so the FBI would have him then moved into the Presidential Hotel instead, with Donovan making his several demands to Ray Nadeem for the deal, much to Nadeem's annoyance.[13] However, during their transport, Fisk was attacked by the Albanian Syndicate, narrowly escaping with his life. Donovan and Lee found Fisk inside the hotel, explaining that they were his lawyers, while Benjamin Poindexter then ordered them to stay away. However, Fisk demanded that Donovan find Marianna and ensure her safety.

Donovan says Vanessa Marianna is missing

Although Donovan had attempted to insist to their FBI that Fisk did not actually know how to contact Marianna, who was still in hiding, Fisk ignored this and demanded that Donovan ensure that she was safe, before being taken up into his penthouse. Once Fisk had been moved into the hotel, Donovan and Lee arranged to meet with him, as Donovan insisted to the FBI agents standing guard that all of the cameras in their room be turned off, so that he and Lee could speak with Fisk in private, however, Fisk simply insisted that they not worry about these cameras and say whatever it was they had to say.

Donovan and Lee ask the FBI cameras off

Donovan was then forced to inform Fisk that Marianna had recently gone missing. Getting through to Felix Manning, Donovan learned that Marianna was safe and had simply been relocated, as he and Lee returned to the Presidential Hotel to inform Fisk of this update, with Lee noting that they were avoiding being tracked by not using cellphones. Donovan and Lee explained that Marianna was in a safe house outside of Barcelona, which angered Fisk who did not want Marianna in Spain which would have put her at risk of extradition, as Donovan noted that he and Lee had advised against the decision.

Donovan claiming Vanessa Marianna is safe

Donovan however then explained that Marianna enjoyed the art and insisted upon going to Spain, as he and Fisk agreed that Marianna could be very insistent. Although Fisk had calmed down, he had still noted that it would be too easy for the Albanian Syndicate to target Marianna there and demanded that Manning move her onto another, safer location for the time being, noting that he wanted it to be closer to New York City. With that being said, Fisk then sat back down and looked at the white wall in front of him, as Donovan and Lee took this as their queue to leave him in peace and fulfill his instructions.[2]

Daredevil's Assault

Donovan is strangled in his car by Daredevil

"I don't know what you're talking about. You've got the wrong person. Fisk hated prison. The FBI got him out."
"No, no. He could have turned on anyone. Why the Albanians?"
"I'm just a lawyer."
"What is Fisk really getting out of this?"
―Benjamin Donovan and Daredevil[src]

Following his meeting at the Presidential Hotel, Donovan returned into his car and prepared to leave, only to find that Daredevil was waiting for him in his car, who proceeded to wrap his wire around Donovan's throat. With Donovan's life now in danger, Daredevil then questioned why Wilson Fisk would turn over the Albanian Syndicate to the FBI, although Donovan had still continued to deny any knowledge of whatever the Masked Man was asking him about.

Donovan explaining Wilson Fisk's recent deal

With Donovan still refusing to answer him, Daredevil tightened the wire around his throat and had threatened to continue doing so until Donovan wanted to breath again. With few options, Donovan finally confessed that Fisk was doing this for Vanessa Marianna, explaining that if Fisk did what they wanted then the FBI would drop all of their charges against Marianna and allow them to be reunited. Although Daredevil still had his doubts, Donovan had insisted it was the truth. However, before he could ask anything more, Daredevil heard the FBI coming and made his escape, with Donovan calling out for help.

Donovan tells Wilson Fisk about the Daredevil

On his way to escape, the Masked Man was confronted by six FBI agents, however, he was able to subdue all of them and then escape, without killing anybody on his way out. Following the assault against him, Donovan returned upstairs to speak with Fisk in his Penthouse Suite and updated him about the situation, with Donovan believing that the Masked Man was in fact Daredevil, while he had then also commented that although he was not in his usual Red Suit, he was sure that it was him. With this, Fisk looked out of the window, which overlooked New York City, commenting on Daredevil's return.[2]

Condemning Matt Murdock

Donovan explains how Matt Murdock survived

"Mr. Fisk is entitled to the return of certain personal belongings, supervised movement within the hotel."
"He'll get everything he was offered, in time."
"That time is now, Special Agent Nadeem."
―Benjamin Donovan and Ray Nadeem[src]

Donovan later returned back to the Presidential Hotel with his latest update for Wilson Fisk who was waiting for him, having just recently attempted to have Matt Murdock assassinated by locking him inside his taxi and launching it into the river. However, Donovan was forced to inform Fisk that while the police had now recovered the taxi, they had failed to find Murdock's corpse, to which Fisk had ordered Donovan to remind Felix Manning that he would not tolerate any lose ends like Murdock surviving, which Donovan then agreed to do.

Donovan learning Murdock is really Daredevil

Finding it hard to believe that Murdock could have survived, Donovan suggested that his body could have been swept away and suggested that if he survived the crash it was unlikely that any blind man could have swum to shore. In response, Fisk had shown Donovan footage of Murdock fighting guards and inmates at Ryker's Island, confirming that Murdock was, in fact, the Daredevil, much to Donovan's shock as he insisted that Donovan and Partners had investigated Murdock and confirmed he lost his sight, with Fisk now fearing that Murdock would come between him and Vanessa Marianna if he had survived.

Donovan makes his demands to Ray Nadeem

Their conversation was interrupted as Ray Nadeem entered the room alongside Benjamin Poindexter. Donovan sat down with the agents and insisted that they honor their agreement, noting how all Fisk's statements allowed the FBI to capture the Albanian Syndicate, while Nadeem agreed that they would not press charges against Marianna before Donovan demanded Fisk be returned his personal belongings. Fisk then promised to continue cooperating with the FBI, before Fisk claimed that Murdock was a criminal working for him, hoping that the FBI would arrest Murdock and ensure he could not stop Fisk.[14]

Researching Benjamin Poindexter

Donovan gives all Benjamin Poindexter's files

"Without getting into specifics, what's this all about?"
"I am New York's scapegoat. Downstairs there are protesters chanting prayers to drive me out into the wilderness. The attention it brings is an impediment for my plan. Fortunately, the public is easily distracted. Which makes the solution for my problem quite simple: the city needs a new villain. And I think I might've found him."
―Benjamin Donovan and Wilson Fisk[src]

Following Wilson Fisk's orders, Donovan had then collected all of the paperwork he could regarding Benjamin Poindexter's life for Fisk to inspect with the assistance of Felix Manning's investigators. Looking over everything that was there, including the audio recordings of Poindexter's therapy sessions, Fisk noted that it would take him some time to get through it all, to which Donovan noted that he had brought an audiobook with him as he sat in the corner and then allowed Fisk to begin his research.

Donovan questioning Wilson Fisk's motives

Having given Fisk some time to look over the information and learn what he could about all Poindexter's time at the Riviera Psychiatric Institute, Donovan finally spoke up and asked Fisk what his sudden interest in Poindexter was all about, to which Fisk noted how he had become the scapegoat for New York City, with protesters who were outside the Presidential Hotel wanting him to disappear. Fisk then explained his intention was to distract the people of New York with a new villain, and he wanted to turn Poindexter into that villain so that he could have his chance at freedom and redemption.[14]

Wilson Fisk's Freedom

Donovan and Nicholas Lee waiting for Kingpin

"One hour ago, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Wilson Fisk. Having seen the proof that they were wrong, the Department of Justice will not be going forward with charges. As of tonight, we are proud to announce that justice has prevailed and Wilson Fisk is once again a free man."
―Benjamin Donovan[src]

Through their work, Donovan and Partners managed to successfully convince the Court of Appeals to overturn their convictions of Wilson Fisk, as Donovan and Nicholas Lee had met with Fisk inside the Presidential Hotel in order to make their public announcement about this development to all the public who were waiting outside, many of whom had continued protesting Fisk being placed in the hotel rather than Ryker's Island, believing Fisk was being treated too well.

Donovan announces Wilson Fisk's innocence

Stepping out first, Donovan addressed their protesters who furiously booed at the sight of Fisk, as Donovan noted over the last two years, Fisk had maintained his own innocence over the many crimes he was accused of. Despite the people of New York City clearly disgusted as they believed Fisk to be a murderer, Donovan then explained that the charges were being dropped and therefore Fisk was now a free man, having seemingly been found innocent of everything he was accused of, including murder, which only resulted in the public there furiously booing Fisk as he stepped up to the podium to speak to them.

Donovan watches Wilson Fisk's public speech

Donovan watched as Fisk addressed the crowd and acknowledged that while they might find this difficult to accept, he claimed that they had been manipulated by the New York Bulletin into believing that he was a criminal, claiming to have been a hero of the people, fighting for them. Fisk then accused Daredevil of being the true villain, noting how he had recently murdered several people, as the crowds went silent upon hearing how Daredevil was the killer and their true public enemy, much to Donovan's satisfaction as he watched the public all changing their minds and turning onto Fisk's side at long last.

Donovan and Wilson Fisk discuss Esther Falb

Back upstairs, Donovan watched Tammy Hattley had finally removing the tracking bracelet from Fisk's ankle, noting how the FBI would still continue protecting Fisk, as Donovan noted that they were terrified of the PR hit if Fisk was killed while under their protection. Donovan had then informed Fisk that Vanessa Marianna was currently flying back to New York to be reunited with him, while Fisk had noted that all that was left was for him to regain his "Rabbit in the Snowstorm" painting from Esther Falb, despite Donovan and Lee noting how Falb was not accepting any of their offers of money to regain the painting.[15]


"I was loyal to your money. And you no longer have it. Don't make this more sad than it needs to be. It's just business."
―Benjamin Donovan to Mariah Dillard[src]
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On first glance, Donovan is a scummy man who only offers his services to the highest bidder, namely criminals like Cockroach Hamilton and Kingpin, and will not hesitate to cut them off when they can no longer afford him, as shown when he stopped representing Shades and Mariah Dillard because they lost their money, despite the fact that it was Mama Mabel who paid for his education, making it possible for him to be a lawyer in the first place.

However, despite how crooked he may appear, there may quite possibly be some good in him. When Matt Murdock was assaulted by Fisk, after ending the interview between the two, Donovan attempted to help him by offering him his arm to guide the blind man out of the room. Murdock however, rejected his help.


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"Look, I wish there was something I could do, but Mariah's favorite lawyer is just too damn slick."
Misty Knight to Luke Cage[src]
  • Expert Lawyer: Benjamin Donovan is an expert lawyer, able to allow Cottonmouth to be released from prosecution.


  • Harlem's Paradise: As Mariah Dillard's lawyer, Donovan visited Harlem's Paradise for legal meetings. He read Dillard's will from inside the club.
  • 29th Precinct Police Station: Donovan frequented the 29th Precinct Police Station, where he defended his clients, including Cottonmouth and Arturo Rey III.
  • Presidential Hotel: Donovan visited Wilson Fisk in the Presidential Hotel while Fisk was under house arrest. Donovan regularly visited Fisk to give him updates on his requests, and stood with him at the Hotel to announce that Donovan had overturned Fisk's convictions.
  • New York State Supreme Court Building: When Donovan was called upon to represent Mariah Dillard, after all of her numerous crimes had eventually caught up with her, he defended her in the in the New York State Supreme Court Building. Donovan was up against Blake Tower in court and lost the case when Dillard was found guilty on all counts.


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Appearances of Benjamin Donovan

In chronological order:


  • In the comics, Benjamin "Big Ben" Donovan was a towering lawyer from Harlem and an acquaintance of Luke Cage. Ben Donovan was later a criminal after his brother was killed by the Maggia.
  • In 2021, Danny Johnson portrayed a character with a similar name, Benjamin "Big Ben" Dante, in The Equalizer episode Reckoning.


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