I started at 8am the day Daredevil released and finished at about 11:20pm. Let me tell you, it was a hell of a ride. I’m sure you guys have been hearing the hype about Daredevil non-stop now, and I’m only here to enforce it. Having seen all thirteen episodes, I’ll let you guys know exactly what you can expect, from the great, to the good, to the just okay.
Right off the bat, this show is far different than anything Marvel has done to this point. It’s darker, grittier, and more gruesome than we’ve seen. There’s blood all over the place, deep gashes, broken bones, and even decapitated bodies. They aren’t afraid of this dark, adult world; the show embraces that aspect with open arms. It really gives Daredevil a distinct, refreshing feel. The spectacular lighting throughout the show gets the style and atmosphere across that much better. It gives Hell’s Kitchen, once again a breeding ground for criminals after the events of The Avengers, the feel it deserves.
Some of the best parts of this show are the fight scenes. They do not disappoint, with every single one beautifully choreographed and shot. There are several standouts, from one in the rain in the first episode to a really awesome, extremely brutal one-on-one battle in episode nine — not to mention the two incredible long-takes in episodes two and five. Not a single punch, kick, or clubbing looks fake. Thanks to the practical nature of the fight scenes (with no added CGI!), this series shows off some of the best bouts in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One of my favorite shots.
The important question is: what about Daredevil himself? I’m glad to report that you can put the Ben Affleck movie into the “never actually existed” category — this is the Daredevil fans have always wanted. Charlie Cox is to Matt Murdock/Daredevil as Robert Downey Jr. is to Tony Stark/Iron Man. He truly embodies everything that Matt Murdock is as a character, including important Catholic aspects. While it disappears for several lengths of time, it makes for some of the strongest moments when it comes into focus.
This series is essentially a thirteen-hour origin story for Daredevil, and with that comes thirteen hours of our basic black Daredevil outfit. Thankfully, this outfit is badass, and boy, does Charlie Cox look intimidating in it. You almost want to back up yourself when Daredevil stands down an enemy. Don’t fret, you will get your classic-ish red costume, but don’t expect early on. The black costume looks fantastic in action (something you thankfully get to see), and has a cool explanation as to why it seems more armored. As for Daredevil’s powers, they don’t go into too much detail about them when you starting the show. As it progresses, you’ll learn very finite details about what exactly Matt can see/sense, and how he does what he does. The series does a great job of visually representing these extraordinary abilities, as well as cleverly using sound design to show them in action.
Very basic, but very awesome.
Another unique thing about the show is that Daredevil is nowhere near unstoppable or untouchable. He gets his ass handed to him… a lot. He still kicks the hell out of (most) of his opponents, but their punches don’t go without consequence. There are portions of the show (sometimes a span of episodes) where the story has to slow down its pacing because Matt is so beat up, not in any condition to fight. There is still a great build up to the climatic finale, however, and it doesn’t ever stop being compelling.
You can’t have Matt Murdock without Foggy Nelson. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Elden Henson’s portrayal of Foggy is going to a divisive one. It’s in the way he delivers his lines: his comic relief can seem phony and forced at times. Not all of his lines fall flat, as Foggy is the one to hilariously point out how little lawyer-ing their practice actually does throughout the run of the season. Elden did a fine job with the heavier, more serious material that he was given in the later parts of the season, however.
Nelson & Murdock, Attorneys at Law
Now let’s talk Karen Page, who surprisingly has very little interaction with Matt for most of the season. Instead, most of her dialogue lies with Foggy and Ben Ulrich. Her season arc has her trying to find those responsible for framing her at the beginning of the season. I won’t talk too much about the specifics of her quest, but I will say her best material is in the final three episodes. And I think the best of Karen is yet to come: there are plenty of things teased about her character that are being held off until future seasons.
Rosario Dawson is a really good addition to the cast when she’s around too, but she’s absent from a good chunk of the season. It’s almost like they started filming with her, but then she became unavailable. Her relationship with Matt was a fun one to see grow over the episodes she was actually a part of. I’m hoping that we see more of her in a future season.
Wish there was more of her!
The last “good guy” character I want to mention is Ben Ulrich, a reporter that gets involved with some of our main cast as they start looking into Fisk (more on him very soon) and his dealings. The show does a really good job with building his motives and back story, really making him into a character that we care about. And if you keep an eye out, you’ll see his office is filled with little nods to the MCU.
You guys have probably been reading this and wondering when I would mention his name: Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin himself, a name by which he is sadly never referred to, even though there is a perfect opportunity for it. The one thing you really have to keep in mind while watching through the season is that it’s all about him becoming the Kingpin we know from the comics. He starts off as a lonely, whiney, powerful man, giving off the air of a wounded animal. At one point, I found myself wondering how such a man got to where he is today. One episode in particular really dives into his past, helping flesh out how Fisk became so demented and tortured.
What I was not expecting going into the show was a love-stricken Fisk. This story grew on me though, and while I don’t want to give away any details, it helped expose parts of Fisk’s character and lead him onto the path to The Kingpin. If my comment about Fisk being lovestruck makes you hesitant, it shouldn’t. Rest assured that Wilson Fisk is still a very scary man, and a force to be reckon with. By the end of the season, Fisk has an entirely different air to him than when you first saw him. Vincent D’onofrio does an incredible job at breathing life into the powerful, tortured, and demented character of Wilson Fisk. I can without a doubt say that he is the most fleshed-out, well developed villain in all of the MCU.
A rabbit in a snow storm.
Of course, there are several supporting villains in the series too. The main one is Wesley, head lackey to Fisk. Wesley was actually one of the most pleasant surprises, because his performance was fantastic. I looked forward to every scene he played a part in. Another standout is Vladimir, leader of the Russians. His arc is actually one of my favorites of the season, and h plays a big role in making Episode 6 as awesome as it as.
I’ll warn you guys now that there isn’t an overload Easter eggs and teases toward future shows or events within the MCU. There are a few really neat ones, though; Episode 7 holds some key hints toward The Defenders and possible future Netflix shows. Keep an eye out for the blatantly obvious (in hindsight, at least) tease at a classic Daredevil villain in Episode 6, as well as a reccurring Iron Fist visual reference.
You may not get a yellow suit, but there are plenty of yellow lights.
Overall, Daredevil was truly fantastic. There are some minor flaws, but not nearly enough to outweigh all of the great things present in Netflix’s take on the classic comic. The story and pacing are strong throughout, even if it does stumble a bit in the last stretch. Personally, I would say my favorite episodes of the season, in no particular order, are 2, 6, 9, and 12. I only hope that we don’t have to wait until The Defenders to see Daredevil again. If you haven’t started the show yet, you should probably drop everything, load up Netflix, and press play.
Article by contributor Russ Milheim.