Like many I binge watched the 13 episodes of Daredevil pretty much as soon as they were uploaded on Netflix and it was so worth it. Unlike other Marvel fare Daredevil was deliciously dark and gritty which reminded me of Nolan’s Batman trilogy in the best way possible and thus has erased the stigma of the 2003 film away from one of Marvel’s coolest characters.
Two men, both alike in ambition, In not so fair Hell’s kitchen where we lay our scene (Okay enough with the Shakespeare). This dirty dark and corrupt corner of New York is still crippled by the devastation of the New York Alien invasion of 2012’s Avengers and is home to both hero and villain alike. We arrive on the scene shortly after Matt Murdock has begun his night-time pursuits of vigilante justice ergo we don’t have that iconic red costume just yet (well not until the season finale that is) but a makeshift blindfold and t-shirt and trousers combo all in black, this allows the audience to follow Murdock on his evolution to becoming the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Meanwhile in the criminal underworld whispers of an influential man who is not to be named (how very Voldemort) circle and pique our hero’s interest and set events in motion. The nameless man is soon revealed as Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin, and what is so fascinating about these two characters is that they both believe that they are just trying to make their city a better place. Fisk like Murdock also evolves as the season goes on, as at the beginning he was a mewling childlike figure lashing out in rage fuelled tantrums and hiding in the shadows to becoming a ruthless villain with a commanding physical presence by the end.
Murdock’s past is dotted throughout the episodes feeding us information about the accident that blinded him and gave him his heightened senses, his training with the mysterious Stick and his relationship with his father a boxer and mob fixer. These events are so integral to the development of Matt becoming Daredevil it was important that they were presented well, and that they were. Matt’s father a boxer known as Battling Jack Murdock was often unsuccessful and beaten up in consecutive matches, but due to his spirit and desire to make his son proud he would always fight on, this was something that was continually detailed from father to son and more than likely influenced the hero’s resilience that is demonstrated time and time again through the series.
The realism of Daredevil broke the boundaries of Marvel’s usual campy Television formula (think Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D and Agent Carter) thanks to its higher rating thus we were given a little more blood and guts that could not be shown on broadcast television. A great moment that stressed the focus on realism was perhaps the best fight scene in recent television history at the end of episode two ‘Cut Man’. The long single shot that sweeps through brilliantly choreographed action also demonstrates that the hero is not immune to fatigue and injury as he is constantly beaten down by his opponents (like father like son) and with the shot focusing on just the hallway what occurs off screen is just as powerful via great sound editing thus it demonstrates the prowess of the title character. Moments like that coupled with aspects of the crime genre ground the show and add to the storyline to make a compelling narrative full of twists and complications for the hero.
Another great plotline was the Painting that Fisk purchases from his soon to be lover’s art gallery in ‘Rabbit in A Snowstorm’. He’s announcement that he likes it because ‘It makes me feel alone’ is hauntingly eerie especially coming from such a menacing man. A little way down the lie we go back into Fisk’s past that is filled with abuse from his politically ambitious father and we see him staring at a wall very much like the painting, it is then enforced that this image is soothing to him in a weird twisted way especially considering how he was forced as a young boy to mediate upon the wall while his father beat on his mother. Interestingly he also finds an incarnation of this image in his prison cell in the season finale perhaps to again help alleviate his pain of being separated from Vanessa, the woman he has grown to love and adore over the course of the season. Allowing the viewers to see this aspect of Fisk humanises him slightly and thus blurs the constantly confusing line between good and bad, a line that Murdock himself constantly crosses as he becomes more and more embroiled in his mission to bring Fisk down.
Other aspects of the show I thought was great were the relationship between Murdock, Foggy and Karen (but specifically the two ‘Avocados at law’), the small blink and you’ll miss it hint at Elektra in a flashback of the two aspiring lawyers at university (nice one marvel) and how their relationship is realistically tested when Murdock’s alter ego is revealed, the badassery of madam Gao, the practically perfect performances of Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Wilson Fisk respectively, Karen Page’s shedding of the damsel in distress stereotype and that marvellous title sequence that sets the tone of the show brilliantly. I could go on but all I can say now is bring on season 2.