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Review: Netflix’s New Marvel Show “Daredevil”

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Holy sweet mother of comic book TV show heaven! Daredevil, the new Marvel show on Netflix, is an absolute masterpiece of television storytelling, and hands down the best superhero TV show ever produced. 

WARNING: potential spoilers ahead, though I will try to keep things vague.

Let’s start with the basics of what and who Daredevil is. Like so many of Marvel’s heroes, Daredevil was created by Stan Lee, and in this case Bill Everett who also created Namor the Sub-Mariner.

Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is blinded by a chemical solution when he is a child. Said solution enhances all of Matt’s other senses to way beyond dog like status. He can smell, and feel, and hear to such a degree that his blindness has little effect on him. In fact he can sense the world around him far better than any sighted person around him.

Matt is raised by his father, a boxer, in the New York City neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, and of course this wouldn’t be a superhero story without that father dying a tragic death at the hands of nefarious criminals. Naturally someone steps in to fill the father role and to train Matt to become the badass he will eventually become.

Murdock then grows up to be a lawyer with his friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, but is so disheartened by the limits of the legal system that he dawns a mask to fight crime in Hell’s Kitchen.

That brings us to the Netflix show, and oh my what a show it is. So many heroes these days are being made to be dark and gritty even when they have no business being such i.e. the newest Superman movie. DD is more than just “dark and gritty,” the show is straight up noir. The Hell’s Kitchen of Daredevil is seedy and there is crime oozing from every corner, but there are good people and places that make that high contrast happen not just in the lighting, but in the story as well.

And oh my the lighting. Greens and yellows that pop so well in the dark environments, and then a little splash of that iconic red here and there. One particular scene shows off not just the great cinematography, but also the excellent fight choreography. Daredevil, or at this point just “the guy in the black mask,” is fighting a group of guys in a hallway and the action never follows into each room, but stays locked in the hallway with the action spilling back and forth between each of the rooms. 

Part of what makes this great is that the fight isn’t like most superhero fights where he or she just punches everyone out with a single kick or punch and then the fight ends and the hero doesn’t have a scratch on them. Oh no no no, this is a bare knuckle brawl, and Murdock has to really work to take these guys down because while he may have super senses he does not have super strength. It’s very reminiscent of the 2003 Park Chan-wook film Oldboy. 

One of the other big highlights, both literally and figuratively, is Wilson Fisk, the villain of the show. Initially appearing in the Spider-man comics Fisk, a.k.a Kingpin, is a typical supervillain that finds his way into several other series, but has settled into the lead antagonist of the Daredevil series. And that’s where I would leave it if this were any other program, but Vincent D'Onofrio completely steals the show. D’Onofrio brings a crazy amount of depth to what is an otherwise a generic character. He truly makes Fisk a force to be reckoned with. He makes him at one moment calm, but always on the edge of completely loosing it, which he does frequently and with great effect. 

Of course all of the other actors are incredible as well otherwise I probably wouldn’t be fanboying quite as hard as I am right now. Deborah Ann Woll from True Blood takes the scared little secretary/love interest from the comics, and makes her into an active player that pushes events as much as her male counterparts. She might still be playing the victim, but it’s a likeable victim not just a simpering women type from the 40’s and 50’s. 

The whole thing feels really well put together. It feels not so much like a TV show, but a 13 hour long movie, and because of that it’s going to make it really easy for Marvel to bring Daredevil into an actual movie if they so choose. He plays a big part in the Spider-man world, and with Marvel and Sony now working together to bring Spidey into the MCU the chances of a some kind of team up are quite high. 

This success however shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point. Since the debut of the first Iron Man movie Marvel and Disney have put a level of quality into the cinematic universe that few, if any, have been able to duplicate. Daredevil is proof that Marvel is committed to every aspect of every franchise making something that not just fans of the comics love, but something nearly anyone can watch and enjoy. 

So what are you doing still reading this? Go load up Netflix and watch it for yourself and tell me if I’m wrong.


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