As you all know, Netflix dropped its latest series, Marvel’s Daredevil, over the weekend. I diligently avoided all social media discussions and articles related to the series. I like to go into movies and shows with only my expectations. With Daredevil, I went in with an even cleaner slate. I’ve never read any series with him, and know so little about him, that my most informative description I could provide you with is that Ben Affleck starred in an apparently crappy film adaptation of Daredevil sometime back in the early 2000s.
So while I had no particular expectations of how Daredevil should be portrayed, or even how the setting and story should go, I had my own list of wishes for this series. It’s essentially the same for any series premiere, and particularly for one involving comic book characters. Even though I don’t know Daredevil, every comic book brought to the screen, big or small, is important to me. I want it to feel right. I want these shows and movies to introduce people to the world of comics and create new fans.
Obviously, more than anything, I wanted Daredevil to be good. I also wanted the show to be gritty. I like my superheroes to be edgy. While 1960s Batman, and the one Tim Burton brought us, will always hold a special place in my heart, it’s Christopher Nolan’s dark depiction of Gotham and Batman that’s my style. I want depth in characters, flaws in my heroes, and I like to see violence when my comics hit the screen.
Episode one delivered. The show takes place in New York City, Hell’s Kitchen to be exact, and of course is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, is magnificently played by Charlie Cox. You may recall Cox from Theory of Everything or Stardust, which is currently streaming on Netflix. Daredevil is a lawyer by day and a vigilante by night. He’s also blind. He uses his exceptional hearing and inherited boxing skills to fight the bad guys. This show has the action, the realism, and the flawed hero. I have a thing for human super heroes. I like to imagine, if only while reading or watching, that I too could be one. I like to see my heroes be conflicted with right and wrong, because we all know it’s often not simply choosing between good or bad. I also love the thrill of not quite knowing who is going to win a fight.
Speaking of fights, Daredevil has epic action sequences. One in particular had Daredevil lifting himself up from a puddle, with rain and blood dripping from him. It was a couple of seconds, but it really caught my eye. His killer reflexes and super hearing make for fight scenes like none I’ve seen before. Daredevil not only uses his hearing as a tool while kicking ass, but also to gauge if others are telling the truth.
Second on my list, after all the being good and gritty, was to learn the backstory of Daredevil, but not be bored to tears. We learn how Daredevil comes to be with just enough information and screentime so we understand the character but are not overwhelmed by it. Interesting to me was seeing a superhero who is religious; Matt Murdock is Catholic, and one who goes to confession. I wanted backstory and I got it. They showed me what I needed to know and that was it, back to the action and story at hand. Well done.
In episode one, we meet Foggy Nelson, who is Daredevil’s – I mean, Matt Murdock’s – law partner, and Karen Page, their newly-hired assistant. I like these characters, because solid acting combined with depth makes them more than just extras in Daredevil’s world. Foggy offers comic relief, but not too often and without shtick. Karen proves she can fight back and is not simply a damsel in distress. I’d like to personally high-five the writers for this, and hope it continues on throughout the series.
We’re briefly introduced to Wilson Fisk, the powerful businessman and all-around bad guy behind the trouble in this episode. We never see him, but hear him once over a speakerphone. Oh, did I mention Fisk is played by Vincent-Freaking-D’Onofrio? Had anyone told me this sooner, I would have had a premier party on Friday and even made those deviled eggs for the occasion. As a huge fan of D’Onofrio, I look forward to many more scenes with the big, bad Fisk.
The final thing on my wish list for a comic-turned-series was a hook. Look, I have Netflix, an overstuffed DVR, and three circus rings to keep up with. With so many choices and so little time, a show has to suck me in. Interest me, excite me, make me want to know your characters and get on the ride! Well kudos, because I’m typing this review as fast as my fingers can go, anxiously waiting to click “play” for episode two. Someone bring me some caffeine, it’s going to be a long night…
Binge along with me! Daredevil is streaming now on Netflix.