Daredevil Season 1 Review

Since the 2003 atrocity starring Ben Affleck, Daredevil is one Marvel character that has left a bad taste in my mouth. I shudder at the thought of the red leather clad Ben Affleck flipping blindly through Hells Kitchen to a soundtrack of numetal bands.

 

“I’m really into Evanescence at the moment”

Thankfully Netflix has arrived to cleanse my pallet and offer a grounded series filled with excellent action.

Ben Affleck’s Daredevil notwithstanding, I was hesitant to begin this series. Sure, I enjoy superhero films as much as the next guy, but a 13 episode saga about a blind guy who knows kung-fu? That might be pushing it. Superhero films are fun, but they don’t always offer the most compelling story lines. I struggled to see how such a genre could transfer from the 2 hour blockbuster format to a drawn out television series. But… Netflix did it. I couldn’t wait for the next episode and I’m hanging out for season two, and here’s why:

1. The action

“It’s a superhero series, of course it’s going to have action. Duh.” 

Sure, but so did Taken 3, and I never want to watch that again. The difference? The action in Daredevil is good. 

We seem to be in an era of shaky-cam and quick cuts, where the average director’s idea of filming a fight scene is to point a camera at the action and have a seizure. It’s lazy film making and it leaves action sequences incomprehensible.

Liam Neeson is in there somewhere

By contrast, Daredevil’s action sequences are crisp, choreographed and literally packing a punch. When Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox) hits someone, you see it and most of all, you feel it. Instead of a frantic camera cutting relentlessly from shot to shot, a fight scene in Daredevil is carefully arranged to show every flip and every hit. It seems like simple stuff, but it is what the action genre is often sorely missing.

Part of the brilliant one-shot hallway fight scene from episode 2

2. It’s first and foremost a gritty crime drama

Daredevil is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it’s not like any other property Marvel has put on the screen before. It’s less about a superhero and more about an attempt to fight the crime and corruption that has infested a community, whether that be through the law, the media, or by violence. There are nods to the Avengers throughout the series, but the tone of Daredevil could not be more different. Matt Murdock isn’t a demi-god, flying around and saving the day, he’s a man struggling to fight his way through the levels of criminality, uncover the enterprises draining his city and get to the man at the top. Such a narrative naturally lends itself to a television series format and the 13 episode series gives ample time to develop the histories and motivations of the characters. It allows the story of Daredevil to be more than ‘hero saves the day’.

As mentioned, the tone of Daredevil is completely different to any other Marvel franchise. This is especially true in regards to the violence – it is no holds barred. We are so used to the almost family friendly violence in the Avengers movies that it can come as a surprise to see Matt Murdock delivering relentless beatings (or being relentlessly beaten). If you want to see a man get his head impaled on a fence post, Daredevil has it. You want to see a man be decapitated by a car door? Maybe see a psychologist… but yes, it’s there too. What I’m saying is don’t be mistaken in thinking that this is a superhero show you can let your kids watch.

3. Vincent D’onofrio

“Who?” You know, the Law and Order guy:

At least that’s who I knew him as before I began watching Daredevil. Turns out he is a criminally underrated actor and may just be the best Marvel villain yet.

D’onofrio plays Wilson Fisk, or ‘the Kingpin’, an imposing mob boss with a vision for Hells Kitchen and a tendency to break into violent tantrums. He owns the role, bringing a combination of intimidation and fragility to the character. Needless to say D’onofrio  singlehandedly lifts the series up a notch. I even found myself empathizing with the character of Fisk – a credit to D’onofrio and the writers.

  Big, bald and badass

I recommend Daredevil to those who prefer their superhero sagas a little more on the dark and grounded side, or for those who are simply looking a for a quality action series or crime drama.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Also check out the Frank Miller comic!

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