Marvel’s Daredevil: The Show Without Fear
There are a couple significant points to consider with the premiere of Netflix’s new original series, Marvel’s Daredevil. There’s the obvious and insane detail that this is the first live-action return of “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” since his debut in 2003’s Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman, Dogma). The movie was heavily bashed by critics and moviegoers alike for its over the top characters and terrible dialogue. The second and definitely more interesting point is that this marks the start of a 5-show deal with Netflix to help expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The other shows include A.K.A Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders. All provided with the mandatory “Marvel’s” prefix attached. So how is the long-anticipated return to Hell’s Kitchen? In 2 words: Brutally Glorious.
The Devil is in the Details
In a mad “TL;DR” manner, I say stop reading this and go watch the show. In true Netflix fashion, all 13 episodes of Season 1 are online as you’re reading this, undoubtedly being streamed to millions of computers, iPads, PS4s, and the like. To give you a taste without spoiling the fun, I’ll be only mentioning events from the first 4 episodes. In-fact, one can see the first 4 episodes as Act I of the story being told in Season 1. They do a fantastic job at setting up all the players, both good and bad, and mark the tone for what’s to come in the episodes that follow.
If you don’t know about the character of Daredevil, that’s ok. In-fact, its one the show’s best attributes. We essentially have an origin-story on our hands, but told in a much more interestingly than your typical training montage kinda way. Daredevil is kicking names and taking skulls within the first few minutes of the show, and the backstory is delivered through flashbacks as needed. The character of Daredevil’s alter ego is Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire, Stardust), is a lawyer who was blinded as a child after an accident involving toxic chemicals. The accident also heightened his other remaining senses, which provide him with his very special abilities. When Matt was a child he got a taste of corruption as he witnessed his boxer father killed for not throwing a fight he was paid to lose. That lead Matt down the path to end corruption in his neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, (which isn’t a terribly large part of New York, but I guess the Avengers got the rest of the city covered.)
The Show Without Fear
It’s hard not to compare the show to other Netflix shows and other Marvel properties. In a very interesting way, it manages to feel like it belongs to both. The show is undoubtedly graphic and would pull a nice MA rating if it had aired on Legacy Broadcast (yeah I went there). There is plenty of blood and even some gore. Definitely not for the squeamish. I’d say I’m fairly desensitized to hollywood gore, but still found myself cringing during certain scenes. Sometimes its just the sounds that do it. The level of maturity is very refreshing in the current Marvel landscape. It shows that Disney isn’t afraid to treat a property with the respect it deserves, even if it means limiting it to an older audience. Moves like this one make me hopeful for not only the other Netflix Marvel shows, but for inevitable future projects like The Punisher.
Disney isn’t afraid to treat a property with the respect it deserves, even if it means limiting it to an older audience.
In many ways, Marvel’s Daredevil reminds me of Netflix’s first original series, House of Cards. Just replace the politics with crime (I realize that those two words might already be interchangeable in some circles), and you’re all set. Things like the way conspiracy investigations thread through the episodes to the pristine photography, make you happy that you can binge-watch the show, and in the cleanest 1080p stream you’ll find this side of the Mississippi. The show is methodic. Every frame is precise and with purpose. At least almost every frame. This is where the Marvel-ness of the show takes over and makes sure the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. The character of Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock’s lawyer partner, is played by Elden Henson (The Hunger Games, Jobs). Him and the character of Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), help add a certain human charm to the show. Other Marvel properties like X-Men and Spider-Man somehow miss this vital component. It’s what made us fall in love with Iron Man and every Marvel-run movie after that. There needs to be a human element even if it can be a bit awkward at times. Rosario Dawson (Clerks II, Josie and the Pussycats) plays Claire, a nurse and Murdock’s requisite love interest. Her character is the anchor to his humanity, and Marvel’s Daredevil wastes no time reassuring you that this incarnation of the character is a much more human one. Matt Murdock has no real speakable superpowers and can be on the receiving end of some brutal beat ups. There is a very noticeable The Dark Knight level of realness to the fights and action that also make sure the show stays humble. This makes Daredevil’s abilities that much more impressive to watch as he kicks the living crap out of the various goons he encounters.
Once Upon a Time, There Lived a Devil
As far as the storyline and characters are concerned, you will find that this time around many of the aspects are pulled from Frank Miller’s take on the masked vigilante in the Daredevil: The Man Without Fear books. Aspects borrowed are both in story elements and in general feel, lending the show its grit and realism. The story pulls include featuring the Kingpin Wilson Fisk, played by Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order: CI), as our big bad, and Murdock’s “hobo” rookie costume of a black outfit and black mast covering the entire top half of his head.
As far as how the show will impact the MCU, I wouldn’t expect too much, at least not in this first Season. The show is definitely focused on establishing itself in the landscape and has its own story to tell. To be honest, I prefer it that way. Although I’m willing to bet we’ll see him crop up to the silver screen eventually, one way or another. Either way, Looks like we’re finally getting the Daredevil we deserved 12 years ago, and I’m super-excited to see where the show goes from here.
*Comic book images sourced from Wikipedia.