TV Review: Marvel’s Daredevil Season 1: The Show Without Fear
Monday, April 13th, 2015 at 9:00 am
Marvel’s Daredevil Season 1
Created by Drew Goddard
Starring Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ayelet Zurer, Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Bob Gunton Netflix
Premiere: April 10, 2015
First off, let me say that I have been thoroughly impressed with every Netflix Original Series I have seen so far and I had high hopes for Marvel’s Daredevil when I first heard it was in production. As the first of four all-new live-action Marvel franchises, the spotlight was trained on this one when it became available on April 10, 2015. And folks, it was well worth the wait. Dark and gritty, it is everything you would expect of a show that features a blind superhero fighting the good fight in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City.
But let me expound on that for a moment. The term “superhero” is not really applicable in this particular instance. There’s not much that is super about Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), unless you count his ability to take a beating. He’s highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, but he’s not so remarkable that he escapes injury. As a matter of fact, it’s amazing how much Murdock does get hit. It’s his sheer force of will that makes him the formidable opponent that he is in this program.
Working as a defense attorney by day, Murdock and his partner Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) are still working out the kinks in setting up a new practice. At night, however, Murdock becomes the man in the black mask that seeks his own brand of vigilante justice for those less fortunate. Blinded by toxic chemicals as a child in a traffic related accident, the man who will become Daredevil has trained himself to use his other senses to their maximum capacity. These other senses have been heightened to such a dramatic point that he almost seems to see things before they happen. Unlike the movie featuring Ben Affleck the same character, this is not treated as a superpower, but is portrayed as being more natural.
Possibly the most exciting part of the entire series is the cast. Charlie Cox is amazing as Matt Murdock, from his realistic humanist approach to the citizens of New York to his unwavering willpower. The drive that makes Daredevil who he is in the comics comes through perfectly in Cox’s acting. The supporting stars are no less brilliant. Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson is more than just a sidekick, he’s a great guy on his own. While he may seem pusillanimous at first, he’s got a lot of protectiveness for those he calls friend. Deborah Ann Woll enters the series as Karen Page and quickly becomes more than a victim; she really comes into her own over the course of the first season. There are many other notable characters who help propel this series forward, though I cannot even begin to name them all. It would be remiss of me to not mention Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) in this article. Less the bruiser and more the mastermind, he is a deep (and deeply flawed) character who, like many villains, feels he is trying to bring about good things…albeit through violent means. The introduction of his love interest is interesting in that it humanizes him slightly, which in turn only makes his violent sociopathic tendencies that much more appalling. Outside of Cox’s Daredevil, the Kingpin is definitely my favorite of the characters in this series.
Taking a step back from the actors and their iconic roles, the most surprising feature of this original series is the darkness that seems to permeate everything. This isn’t the Marvel you know from the silver screen films. This is a down and dirty, in-your-face look at what being heroic and desperate really means. This is a view of how a normal man goes about using his innate abilities to defend the city he loves. I cannot help but compare Daredevil to Batman in this respect. It’s all about that personal connection to their city, their home. But where Bruce Wayne has endless amounts of money and gadgets, Matt Murdock has nothing more than a mask and the occasional random weapon. The passion is similar but the methods are vastly different. This show is so realistic you can almost imagine it happening.
I don’t want to get too deep into the details, spoiling this is not even an option for me. Experience this series as it was meant to be, sitting in your living room with the lights turned off. When I say it’s dark, I mean that both literally and figuratively. Noir doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s violent, it’s moody, and it’s beyond great. Daredevil isn’t afraid to use force to get results, breaking arms and legs with little hesitation. His enemies have even less restraint; murder and violence are second nature to them all.
Marvel’s Daredevil goes places that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never before ventured. I feel that were it not for Netflix, this series wouldn’t have had the same edge to it. On that same note, without the edge this wouldn’t have been nearly as spectacular. This series ups the ante for every other comic book based show to come. Where other films may have contained the same levels of violence (like The Punisher movies) they weren’t balanced by the well-written scripts and impressive acting. And while we are used to glorious special effects in our superhero offerings, this delivers the same dazzling feeling through sensationally choreographed fight scenes and unforgettable performances. It’s obviously drawing heavily from Frank Miller’s work, it shows in the tone of the show. But our hero is fighting for justice and not revenge. And though he seems to blur the lines upon occasion, he’s a good man who wants to do what is right.
Watch this series. Like I said, it’s the first of four from Netflix and it leads to a culminating Defenders miniseries. Tying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these Netflix originals are giving watchers a street-level view of some of Marvel’s lesser-known characters (at least for non-comic readers). Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage are the other three that are getting to shine in this spotlight and I cannot wait to see those, too! Way to go, Netflix and Marvel… you’ve really outdone yourselves this time.