“Marvel’s Daredevil” is a live action series that follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who in a tragic accident was blinded as a boy but imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in his old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, New York where he now fights against injustice as a respected lawyer by day and masked vigilante at night.
There was a lot of expectation, and probably a lot of apprehension, that floated around the internet when the Daredevil series was announced. The spectre of the Ben Affleck debacle from 2001 hung over the fandom. The internet has a long memory. Along with that, while Marvel has been putting out movie after movie that has gained fan adoration, DC has dominated the television scene with shows like Arrow and The Flash (among others).
Marvel’s aggressive teaser and trailer campaign left a lot of fans with questions – and a lot of fans (myself included) looking forward to actually sitting down and watching the show.
The show starts off pretty hard with something the movies have not done: it’s shockingly violent. There’s blood and broken bones throughout the show. While we can’t say the movies are tame, this series makes them seem it where violence is concerned. In a show like Daredevil – based on a series known for being dark and gritty – the violence seems more necessary than it is purely gratuitous.
Anyone who has looked up anything about the show so far has probably heard critics and fans alike gushing about the fight choreography, and I will not disagree – the fight choreography is stunning. The now-famous “hallway scene” is arguably the best fight scene in a TV show that has happened in a long, long time. There’s realism to the fights. No one’s wounds are magically healed in one episode. You can see people – Matt especially – get fatigued. My one nitpicky comment is that there’s a distinct overuse of one acrobatic move, taking it from “signature” to “overdone,” but that’s really my only complaint there.
Of course, if you have a weak stomach for violence, you can expect to spend a decent amount of time covering your face. There are no pulled punches in this show (pun intended).
The show doesn’t just focus on Daredevil as a vigilante – it also shows Matt’s struggles to become a successful lawyer without compromising his morals. While the law stuff often seems to pale in comparison, or take a back seat, to the vigilante action, the two things are tied in together. One wouldn’t go the way it does without the other. Being a lawyer by day is a huge part of what makes Matt the character he is, so the tie-ins are much appreciated by this longtime fan (and law student). The show does a good job of not making the law parts too boring or inaccessible to people who aren’t familiar with how law works, without being too Law And Order about it.
For people unfamiliar with Matt’s story, the show does a good job of introducing him and his world. It also does a good job of throwing in connections to the larger Marvel cinematic universe. Anyone who has seen the Marvel movies will catch the references. If Daredevil is a watcher’s introduction to the MCU, that’s all right too – this stands well enough on its own. No outside knowledge is required. Longtime DD comic fans, like me, will appreciate the existing character lineup, and the nods to those who will hopefully come later. There are easter eggs throughout the series for fans to find.
The show does obviously take from specific comic influences, but this is a new story. This is a more modern look at Daredevil, from a costume redesign, to the changing of characters and tropes. There are surprises and twists that no one sees coming, though I haven’t decided yet if I appreciate all of them. But that’s the way a good reimagining should be, isn’t it?
All of the characters in the series are fleshed out. There are no damsels in distress – something that is rare for the superhero genre. There is a multiracial cast – something else that is rare for the genre. Everyone has ups and downs. Everyone, Matt included, has flaws. The big villain is someone who seems very human. No one comes across as a caricature, not even the old blind ninja, Stick, who trains young Matt. The writing, overall, is amazing.
There are some things that I had a hard time with, as a hardcore comics fan. Some things change and I don’t know that they were for the better. The way Matt’s power set is explained, and even utilized, doesn’t make as much sense as it seems to in the written medium. He seems to lack weaknesses in his powers (though he has very human weaknesses), and as a watcher I was a little confused and once or twice frustrated by that. Still, my complaints here are minimal. I didn’t find this show lacking. I found it gripping, and gut wrenching, and satisfyingly dark, with bright touches of humor thrown in for a countermeasure.
I can’t wait to see what they do with the next season, and with the tie-in series that will be joining DD on Netflix in the next year and beyond.
Daredevil can be watched exclusively on Netflix, right over here, via computer, smartphone, tablet, or game console.