series creator: Drew Goddard
show runners: Drew Goddard & Steven D. Knight
starring: Charlie Cox, Vincent D'Onofrio, Deborah Ann Woll and Rosario Dawson
genre: Action | Comics | Crime
released: April 10, 2015 on Netflix
Ever since Marvel got their hands back on the Daredevil property, most of us geeks couldn't wait to see how they could possibly tackle it. Gladly, they chose not only the TV route for it, but also the Netflix option. Giving them free creative reign in a medium with a particular audience that the material of Matt Murdock and co could flourish. Not holding back for the wider audience profit margins or the stipulations of what can or can't be seen on advertisement ridden Television. Which in the process let it become the best comic book show on TV to date, having elements that many will find comforting, entertaining and even worthwhile.
In the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen New York. A blind lawyer named Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) has the special ability from a freak childhood accident to have heightened senses. This in combination with his exceptional ninja like training as a boy, made him become the ultimate force of good against the evil that is plaguing his city.
Yet, Daredevil by night still has to manage to have a social and professional life by day. With him is his best friend and partner in law Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). Together they try to get their law firm practice out of the ground and on to the streets accompanied by their new and hopeful employee Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll). Who is adamant at finding justice with them.
At the same time revolving around Matt, Foggy and Karen's little world is the ever growing presence and influence of the Kingpin of New York Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio). Whose behind the curtain actions have brought the city and the trio to their knees.
It will be up to Matt and his friends to find a way to stop him, before Matt goes too far into his devil personality and becomes what he truly hates. To become one of them.
Before I begin, let me touch upon for a second on the ill fated Ben Affleck Daredevil movie. First of all I'm not a fan or hater of it and its director's cut does make into a much more enjoyable experience than its theatrical release. It just was far too comic bookey and unrealistic for its own good. It also rushed many years of great plots and characters into one film and had its protagonists pretty much perform feats that felt arbitrary and preposterous even for a comic book film. Leading to a film that felt disingenuous and pleasing at the same time.
In the new take of one of Marvel's darker characters we find a world similar to the comics in tone and plot and also very similar to the comic book runs of the some of the most famous Daredevil writers Frank Miller, Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker. Filled with corrupt men of the system and of the streets and trying to make a profit off the weak.
However, because of one man's unnatural, but special gift. They will know what it truly means to go up against the devil. Although it should be noted, this is not the only thing the show is about. It also goes much more into the territory of Matt Murdock's day job as a lawyer as much as it does with his activities at night. Following up on his origin, his huge supporting cast and making the show feel much more versatile and diverse than anyone could have expected.
Most remarkable of all of this is how almost each one of the characters that plays a part in Matt Murdock's life, from the second tier friend or foe and up. Seem to all have a mini arc all to the themselves with a backstory, mystery and set of revolving characters and mini stories of their own. I wouldn't say it's required in every situation, but it does make the show feel much more connected to its world, its character motivations and paths. Maybe changing some details along the way, but in the end its making the characters such as the Kingpin feel more in touch with their humanity and also their goals.
Moreover this elaborate showing isn't only left to the secondary characters and Daredevil. It's also kept to a great length with the show's excessive violent material, themes and action. Having enough blood and violence to show Daredevil isn't quite the same hero as Spider-Man or Cap. As well as with the action scenes that get brutal with bone cracking, multiple and creative death scenes and cry's for mercy.
In general it's pretty close to the TV show Arrow in style, in the sense of in your face, hard punching and fast paced action momentum. Not being too choppy or choreographed, but having a finite balance that leads to bloody noses and a lot of injured and wounded men. Most importantly Daredevil has a very specific fighting style. With a real mix of punches, flips and knee moves. Proving adept to face many foes and taking a punch or two at the same time.
Furthermore the show for its budget and medium is quite ambitious. Coordinating many sides to a grand organized crime plan, superhero rise & fall, supporting cast focus and fight scenes that in length and quality try to be a mix of the visceral such as the film Oldboy and fun as the Arrow as I mentioned before. Also in a way this show is with Avengers and Cap 2 the best thing Marvel has done as a Studio. Which for some just means let the good times roll and for others when the heck are we going to get our Punisher MAX series?
Though, unnaturally they do have to keep a level head when it comes to hammering other Marvel elements, story plots or villains. Which in turn will lead to more even minded seasons and arcs to be planned out for the future (fingers crossed).
Moving on with the performance of Charlie Cox's as Daredevil, what I most liked is his level of confidence in his portrayal. Something the character would need to have, being a blind man. He is also a very charming and psychically built man for the role. Jumping at the chance to convince a court room of one individual innocence and in the next scene ready to break someone's jaw. Furthermore a direct comparison to Affleck shouldn't be made as this adaptation is much rooted in a grittier world surrounded by the actual filth society has, instead of the ultra realized comic book environment that the Mark Steve Johnson film had.
For instance the choice and time to get Daredevil into the suit or getting him to simply run after a damsel in distress is taken gradually and in those first crucial episodes it plays a hugely pivotal part in our impact of his powers, mission and drive. As well as to systematically build up to bigger and badder threats throughout the season.
Another thing worth mentioning is what the show kept from the comics unchanged. For example Matt Murdock's catholic faith, his ever present and strong supporting cast, his origin (highly important) and many other little details that could have been easily omitted and instead weren't. Because in this day and age most studios are either too scared to touch certain issues and too eager over portray others.
One such brave inclusion was the grounded in reality and gritty nature of the show. That was kept similar to the comics. Keeping in that spirit, it does go one step further. With a few major deaths here and there and some are really unexpected and new twists on the characters. Some could be said are not only unanticipated but risky. As it takes courage to eliminate a "character" that has pretty much been apart of the comic book universe for such a long time.
Though, with the good comes also the bad and towards the middle of the season. The show does have a slower story progression and dangles on its direction towards its big finale. Focusing a bit more on its secondary characters, when it was so heavily in the beginning Matt Murdock centric. This can also be said in regards to the action. Where the action and intrigue felt to have a certain momentum till it came to a sudden halt. And made way for more plot and character. This is evident when Matt has to come to terms with certain friends of his and we have a slight delay of the inevitable fight of the season of Matt vs Fisk.
Additionally this show borderlines at feeling that it has movie budget and look. With scenes in the Kingpin's apartment building feel like a sleek location for a high budget HBO show. Then later on having a scene in some warehouse or alley location and feeeling more like a fixed studio set. In a way it is what it is and doesn't ruin the show. However, things could have been paced a bit quicker and done a bit finer with a lower episode count. I don't think anyone would have cried foul for one less Daredevil episode or two.
Experiencing an in effect Marvel Knights series should be gratifying to all. As well as seeing Marvel Studios branch out a bit from their comfort zone of very lighthearted and family oriented entertainment. And while there is still a ways to go to fixing some of the minor nooks and crannies this show and the overall MCU has. Its nice to know that we can finally get out of Marvel some adult comic book entertainment with no strings attached or sacrifices to be made.