We all remember the failed attempt to bring the title character of Daredevil aka “The Man Without Fear” to the big screen played by Ben Affleck, well at least we try to forget more than remember. At this point, the MCU has hit the ground running well into their second phase with sights on the upcoming phase three and the conclusion of what is to be known as “The Infinity Saga”. Avenger level threats are being taken care of but what about the street level crime? Well, that’s where Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) comes back into the picture.
Is it a part of the MCU or isn’t it? That is the question. Several references to “the event” (battle of New York started by Loki) weeks later would suggest this iteration of Daredevil is in the same universe as Iron Man or Captain America but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as head of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige made it abundantly clear that this first season doesn’t factor into the larger expanding universe that he’s been carefully crafting for the past seven years. Instead, all we are left with is speculation to the fact as the streets are left to fend for themselves, ripe for the picking.
As a boy, Matthew Murdock is blinded by chemicals as he saves an elderly man from getting hit by a car. These chemicals give Matt heightened almost superhuman abilities that allow him to “see” and anticipate things before they happen. Shortly after being blinded, Matt loses his only parent in his father “Battlin” Jack Murdock (John Patrick Hayden) on a fight he willingly threw. Matt is orphaned learning to fight from a man simply known as Stick (Scott Glenn) who teaches him that his blindness isn’t a disability but as something when harnessed correctly will allow him to see better than when he had sight.
“They say the past is etched in stone, but it isn’t. It’s smoke trapped in a closed room, swirling, changing. Buffeted by the passing of years and wishful thinking. But even though our perception of it changes, one thing remains constant. The past can never be completely erased. It lingers. Like the scent of burning wood.”
To understand certain comic book characters a 2-to-2-and-a-half-hour film just won’t cut it. Partnering with Netflix to create a series for Daredevil is probably the best move for this character and universe to fully develop the titular character. Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight and creator Drew Goddard understands these characters a little too well with their motivations, wants, needs and flaws. The MCU as successful as it had been up to this point has had one glaring issues across all films, the villain. Daredevil introduces a villain we’ve seen before in the late Michael Clarke Duncan that blows the films version and any MCU villain out of the water in Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio).
His name is never said aloud (at first) only whispered creating the illusion of an imposing and intimidating figure that controls everything from the shadows like a ghost. It’s like that because he wants it that way – even his associates don’t speak his name including Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore). What makes a good villain can be split in two parts – performance and how the character is written. D’Onofrio puts everything he has into Fisk truly embodying this brutal, damaged, misunderstood character and the writing allows us to actually sympathize with him. His goal is simple: to Make New York, his home beautiful. If that breaks a few eggs along the way, fine by him. At times, you can root for him, understand why he’s in this position and at other times hate him for his actions.
D’Onofrio isn’t the only one who embodies every aspect of his character, Charlie Cox is equally as brilliant. Matt Murdock is a deeply religious and damaged human being who wants to protect his city at all costs. He balances his vigilante crime fighting by practicing law during the day with his partner and best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) who kicks off this storyline when accused of murdering her former co-worker. Charlie, Elden and Deborah have incredible chemistry together – individually and in their respective pairs. Elden nails Foggy’s sense of humor infused into this dark and grounded story while Deborah brings this infectious charm to Karen.
“That’s what makes you dangerous. It’s not the mask. It’s not the skills. It’s your ideology. The lone man who thinks he can make a difference. I’m glad we could talk. I, I respect your conviction even if it runs counter with my own.”
Daredevil nails the conflict of the storyline. There are several – Matt conflicts with himself, Matt and Foggy have their own conflicts and issues, Karen and Wesley and Daredevil and Kingpin. DeKnight fully develops these conflicts over the course of the 13-episode season mainly Matts internal conflict between his religious convictions and doing what’s right the legal way and the vigilante way. Some of the best scenes involve Matt visiting his church and having deep conversations with Father Paul Lantom (Peter McRobbie). It’s here where the inner conflict in Matt comes full circle.
Daredevil’s main theme as seen throughout the season deals with good vs evil. Each character has both qualities deeply rooted in their personalities and are explored flawlessly. There are moments Matt can be seen as the clear cut hero and moments when he can be considered the villain – same goes for Fisk. In Fisk’s mind, he’s the hero of this story, it’s what makes his character so polarizing. His lessons were learned from his father, the cuff links serve as a reminder of the man he became because of his father but he also became damaged at the same time. Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) accepts Wilson as a flawed yet in her eye’s perfect human despite all the violence and criminal activity.
Daredevil came out of nowhere. It’s a series that we aren’t used to as comic book fans. Only DC has shown the darker side, but Daredevil embraces the darkness and uses it as its strength. Daredevil is the type of series we didn’t know we needed until it became available on Netflix for us to binge. It’s a show that has its message and won’t apologize for taking situations further than they’ve been pushed before.
The spirit of Daredevil is captured brilliantly through the cinematography. One sequence in particular stands out among the rest. In episode 2 “Cut Man” the end sequence or hallway scene is shot to look like a single take was used. As a story telling tool this sequence works exceptionally but as a technical tool, showing the brutality of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen going room to room and punishing the boy’s captors without cutting to a different take blows your mind.
Daredevil season 1 hits like a freight train. Casted perfectly and acted beautifully, Daredevil is a force to be reckoned with. Carlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio put their hearts and souls into their characters and are surrounded by strong supporting performances in Elden, Deborah, Ayelet, and Toby. Daredevil season 1 is constructed with precision and skill that tells a dark, brutal, tragic yet hopeful story that pays off by the season finally when the comic accurate costume is reveled. If I were to rate Daredevil season 1, I’d rate it a 5 out of 5.
Daredevil season 1 premiered on April 10, 2015 and can be streamed on Netflix. Daredevil season 1 has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%. Daredevil was created for TV by Drew Goddard, was based on characters created by Stan Lee & Bill Everett and stars Charlie Cox, Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, Vincent D’Onofrio, Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall & Ayelet Zurer
So, tell me, have you seen Daredevil season 1 and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.