Marvel’s made its maiden voyage into streaming television this past Friday as the red hooded vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen, Daredevil, invaded Netflix. Like a lot of people, I spent the weekend binge-watching all 13 episodes of the inaugural season. The journey of attorney/crime fighter Matt Murdock carries the flavor of Frank Miller’s The Man Without Fear, while EP’s Drew Goddard and Steven De Knight very much made this their own.
Daredevil is very much grounded in the street-level aspect of things like the dark side of humanity paints a pretty grim picture. The series focuses on New York City, years after the invasion from The Avengers film. There are references to events in the Marvel cinematic universe; however, they are subtle and well placed without hitting the viewer over the head ad nauseam. This show will appeal to Marvel fans and those who have never heard of the character.
I was excited about this show when I heard that Charlie Cox was cast in the lead role. I was impressed with his work as Irish con man Owen Slater in Boardwalk Empire. Here, as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Cox shines in every scene and made me believe he is a blind lawyer that beats people up at night. Trust me, his phone will be ringing off the hook with offers after people see his work here.
Besides Loki, the MCU has produced a slew of one-note villains. I’m happy to report that we have a new baddie of substance in Wilson Fisk, played by the talented Vincent D’Onofrio. The best bad guys are those who don’t see but ignore the error of their ways because they truly believe they’re doing good. D’Onofrio exudes this conviction every moment he is on the screen.
Toby Leonard Moore has a commanding presence as Fisk’s second in charge, Wesley, that made you sometimes wonder if there really is a puppet master lurking in the shadows. Elden Henson is perfect as the lovable best friend and law firm partner, Foggy Nelson. Deborah Ann Woll, as victim-turned-fighter in Karen Page, carves a brave niche into this unforgiving world.
Even though this is categorized as a television show, there was a cinematic quality that is engrossing from the opening frame to the explosive closing crescendo. It’s essentially a thirteen-hour movie that builds upon itself with every element inserted brilliantly and executed to near perfection. The production also did a great job of using New York City’s landscape as it became a character itself.
The fighting in this show is amazing and carried a real and raw back-alley brawling style with a touch of fanciful spin kicks thrown in for good measure. I like how Daredevil’s fights were laid out with a sense of urgency where punches and kicks took their toll on him throughout the series. This was a nice change of pace from when the good guy normally cleans house pretty easily.
When it was announced that Daredevil would be wearing the black mask instead of his classic red costume, I initially gave it thumbs down because I’m old school that way. However, wearing all black street clothes really sold the story that this is one man trying to make a difference instead of a superhero. Later on, the realization that things need to evolve from a practical and symbolic standpoint ushers in the transition from do-gooder to devil.
This series has received critical acclaim across the board and with very good reason. The thing is, there is no amount of telling you how awesome this show is that is truly going to prepare you for how awesome this show really is. The captivating story and well-realized character development work hand-in-hand to make Daredevil something special that you can devilishly sink your teeth into.
On a side note, I never bashed on the Daredevil movie starring Ben Affleck that was released in 2003. The film gets a lot of hate among comic book fans, but I never completely understood why. After watching the Netflix/Marvel rendition, I absolutely understand now.
***Check out the video below of the Daredevil opening title sequence. It was really well done and captures the essence of the city Daredevil is fighting to save.