Review: Daredevil Series 1

(Netflix, ABC Studios, and DeKnight Productions – 2015)

Starring – Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vincent D’Onofrio

 

Summary: In Hell’s Kitchen crime runs rampant and Matt Murdock feels he has what it takes to bring the criminals down, through the power of the law and by his own hands. A lawyer by day, and a masked vigilante by night, when the Kingpin begins his ascent in the underworld, Daredevil vows to stop him… or watch his city burn trying.

[SPOILERS!!]

Review: A few years ago Marvel and Netflix announced that they’d be making four shows for Netflix under the characters of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. These heroes would then collectively come together in one mini-series called The Defenders. At the time the Internet exploded in excitement, and we all collectively bided our time until finally Daredevil showed up with all 13 episodes and finally we lost our shite.

Really though, after a failed first attempt at live-action stardom in 2003, would this new rebirth prove itself to be just what the doctor ordered, or yet another bust? Audiences were given all 13 episodes at once, and we had 13 episodes to binge in order to find out. By the time this review is released, there are some fans out there still finishing the show, but many of us finished it within’ the first weekend it was released. Ah, the price of fandom.

At an hour long each, its within these 13 episodes that we’re given the origin tale of Daredevil and evenly so Wilson Fisk, otherwise known famously as the Kingpin. Both characters are given equal amount of time to flesh out their arcs and both come up being equally sympathetic. While watching Daredevil I found myself rooting for Fisk several times even while he was in the middle of doing some rather bad stuff.

It’s a testament to this show’s versatility in writing, and willingness to push the boundaries of what we’ve come to expect in stories, where long gone are the tales of the conflicted hero and the cookie cutter bad guy. Now, the bad guys are just as conflicted and I don’t think I’ve seen a show where I like majority of the villains as much as I like the villains here. From Fisk, to Madame Gao, to the Russian Mob Boss Bros., there really were genuine times I wanted them to win.

However, I’m stressing the bad guys a little too much at the moment. That’s simply how good they were written, though – with the exception of Nobu, an operative of the Hand and Hell’s Kitchen’s branch leader of the Yakuza. Of course there were a few plot points in this show, along with a few other characters, that just didn’t get the screen time I think they deserved. And that I’ll admit is one of the things that didn’t work when it came to this series, it’s that it tried to juggle A LOT of characters and A LOT of plot points.

It did majority of them quite well though, so the other stuff comes off as quite minor in the grand scheme of things. Before I get to the big characters though, I’ll discuss the tone of the series. This Marvel’s darkest story by far. With plenty of gruesome deaths, blood, as well mature themes that definitely wouldn’t make it on ABC or in one of the films. For the street level Daredevil, this tone actually works quite well. Does it need to be the norm from now on? No, definitely not. Each series should be treated with its own tone, but there is definitely a maturity to Daredevil that makes sense for a hero running around in the corrupt space of Hell’s Kitchen.

It’s like growing up on the mean streets and learning the dark secrets this world has to offer, where as when your in the sky you seem to forget about the everyday problems and deal with the big things only as they come at you. The Avengers are in the sky, Daredevil is on the streets.

Charlie Cox gives a stellar performance as Matt Murdock and as Daredevil, pulling off the two sides of the coin where we have the soft spoken Murdock, and the fist flying DD with intense ease. Having come into this character knowing nothing about him, he really channels the characters well and gives it all. I wish Cox could win an award for his performance cause it really is that good.

When you watch this show, you will believe the blind can do what DD can do.

He’s not the only one who gives it their all, as Vincent Philip D’Onofrio gives just as beautiful and emotional performance as Wilson Fisk. Although, his portrayal isn’t as perfect as most would have you believe. One of my favorite scenes for Fisk is when he tries to ask out his future wife, Vanessa, on a date and there’s a very apparent lack of confidence in the man. It really hits home, but in this scene and every other scene Fisk is in he has this sort pause in between his words. Like, he can never fully come out and say what he’s thinking and he’s thinking it all through as he speaks. – I love Fisk in this, but that trait was wearing incredibly thin by the third episode I had to deal with it.

The other main characters, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Ben Urich, and Madame Gao are shown to be incredibly complex characters. Foggy is treated with just as much character and smarts as Matt, and their friendship comes off as truly genuine straight from the get-go. When it all comes crashing down by the end the emotions are raw and you feel it right along side the characters, Gao presents herself as a sort of enigma all the way through to the end and I’m really curious to see where they go with her next.

This series is also chock full of Marvel Easter eggs, which is too be expected, but interestingly enough without the exception of the blatant comic characters come to life, majority of these eggs are hidden extremely well. To the point that people are still finding new Easter eggs no one noticed before. Stan Lee does make his obligatory cameo, but not in the way you think. There’s also a POSSIBLE – take it with an extreme grain of salt – Spider-Man reference in here in the form of a hard-to-point-out-in-a-crowd newspaper clipping.

I really don’t need to tell you by this point that the action is amazing, but, well, here we are. It’s freakin’ awesome. These are some of the best-choreographed fight scenes in Marvel’s history in my opinion. There’s a hallway fight scene that was done in one take and it’s a glory to behold. And really illustrates how Daredevil stacks up in strength when it comes to the other Avengers characters. For most stories, you have your standard fodder soldiers that the heroes take out in one hit. This is apparent in every single Marvel movie and even in Agents of SHIELD. Oddly enough, and is fully illustrated in this hallways fight scene like I mentioned; there are no fodder soldiers in this show. Nearly every single henchman in this show has to be taken down by Daredevil in more than a few hits, and each one puts up some kind of fight.

It is both refreshing, and allows Daredevil to be put in far higher danger than any of his MCU counterparts. No fodder soldier will take out the Avengers. But any one of them can take out Daredevil. And yet, by the end of the show you fully believe DD can go toe-to-toe with the Avengers.

Daredevil by Marvel and Netflix is one of the very best things the MCU has put out. I put is alongside both Agent Carter and Guardians of the Galaxy in sheer golden quality. Is it perfect? No, nothing is. Is it damn near? You bet your sweet bippy. It’s no wonder the Internet is giving it rave reviews, it totally deserves all of them. And here I am, giving it a similar rave review. Go watch Daredevil, now, because before you know it will be 2016 and Netflix will be rolling out season 2 and you’ll be behind. What’s that you say? Season 2? Yes, a whole week after its release Marvel announced Daredevil has been renewed for season 2 for 2016. So go get caught up, you got 13 episodes in order to do it, and trust me they’re ALL worth it. Binge! Binge! Binge!

 

Final Score: 4.5 Devils in Hell’s Kitchen out of 5

DERRICK-imageDerrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.

You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net

@KazekunForever

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