Daredevil: Season 1
Ok, I know how this looks. First Jessica Jones and then straight after, Daredevil. Marvel and Netflix are not paying me to do this -HA I wish-. But with season two right around the corner, this is the perfect time to revisit the man without fear. And obviously I’m not talking about the monstrosity, with the same name and character, that made fans bleed out of their eyes in 2003.
The Man without what?
Daredevil is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which means the story shares continuity with the other Marvel Studios releases like Captain America, Iron Man, etc. There are a lot of Easter eggs to confirm this link with the movies but it is certainly not a must to enjoy this show. So calm your genitals, Batman fanboys.
Young Matt Murdock, living in Hell’s Kitchen (New York), had a tight encounter with a truck full of chemicals. The accident completely robbed him of his eyesight but boosted his other senses to extraordinary levels. He can now smell what you had for dinner two days ago and hear when you are lying about your internet browser history. After graduating summa cum laude from law school, he returns to his city to start a law firm. Together with his newfound best friend, Foggy Nelson, they want to clean up the crime infested Hell’s Kitchen. Unbeknownst to his partner though, our titular hero spends his nights scouring the streets, fighting crime. Until he encounters an enemy that pushes his idealistic beliefs and methods to the edge.
For quite some time now we have seen a rise in dark and gritty “superhero” productions. A method that has been proven successful and was popularized further by Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Netflix follows the same trend by giving us a Daredevil that is down-to-earth, morally ambiguous and just damned somber sometimes. We see this in the characters’ obscure moralities but also in the messy fight scenes. This is not the kind of hero that stops hitting you when you’re down. Not to say that it doesn’t have its sunny moments. Matt’s partner, Foggy, for example is more than just a comic relief character. He’s an exceptionally jolly guy who always tries his hardest to lighten up even the darkest of moods. But whether it’s the protagonist or the antagonist, very few characters only show that one side. And that is what I loved most about this show; a “hero” falling in depravity and a “villain” that knows love, is what keeps Daredevil interesting until the very end.
An approach like this can be demanding for the actors but most of them pull it off just fine. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock can be a bit unresponsive -not a blind guy joke- but it’s pretty clear that he is in a moral dilemma for the entirety of the show. Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson, is much more intriguing as Matt’s counterpart -no homo- than the obligatory love interests. Special props to Vincent D’Onofrio for his portrayal of Wilson Fisk. It’s not often, especially in the superhero genre, that you see such a menacing antagonist with this much sadness and frustration in his eyes. Other than that, we have some very Russian…uhm, Russians; and a Chinese lady that looks older than the Great Wall but can still Kung Fu our hero on his ass. It’s a comic book adaptation after all, so just enjoy it and save your politically correct rant for the new Sacha Baron Cohen movie.
“Another man’s evil does not make you good.” -Father Lantom
Plot and pacing wise, the creators did a tremendous job. The pilot episode got me involved and starting from the third episode I was addicted…Charlie-Sheen-loves-cocaine addicted. A smooth balance between flashbacks and present time prevents Daredevil from standing still. The scenes that involve Matt using his powers are usually pretty intense, even though it’s basically just him listening to a heartbeat. And as comic book adaptations do, there is a fair amount of foreshadowing and plot lines left open for the next season(s). But overall, the story concludes just enough to call this a compelling first season on its own; regardless of how the second season turns out.
It’s not as much an origin story about Daredevil as it is a story about a man trying to figure out what it means to be a “hero”. The clashing of different ideologies and the moral conflict that comes with it, keep the show interesting. The creators bring out the best out of a genre that would otherwise bore quickly. I highly recommend Daredevil to anyone who is looking for a gritty take on the super -more like slightly above average- hero genre.
Creator: Drew Goddard
Stars: Charlie Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson
Binge-meter: worth losing a friend or two
Season two comes out March 18th on Netflix and will star some new, but well-known, characters like Frank Castle (The Punisher) and Elektra Natchios. Other Marvel/Netflix productions are on the way to eventually create a crossover series, called The Defenders, which will include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Basically The Avengers, but…uhm, weaker.