Netflix’s Daredevil finally arrived for our viewing pleasure on April 10th. I’m sure most fans have been eagerly awaiting to see what Marvel had to offer under the banner of Netflix. Would it be the same old same old or would it be something totally different?
The answer is that it’s vastly different than anything Marvel has done. It feels fresh and exciting. Groundbreaking, seeing as it’s the first Marvel property to be showcased solely on Netflix. I’ll be giving you my thoughts on the series as a whole in three parts because I feel it’s essential in getting a the big picture of the entire season and catching little things that may be missed later on.
Part one: Episodes 1-5
One of the things that stands out immediately is the difference in tone compared to all other Marvel projects. It is very dark and quite gritty. It feels much more grounded and the dialogue reflects that as well. At times it feels like an an urban drama with masked men in it, similar to how it’s often been billed ( The Wire with superheroes in it.)
One thing I liked right off the bat is that it’s an origin story that does not waste too much time in telling you that it’s an origin story. The flashbacks that are shown serve more to showcase the relationship between Matt Murdock & his father. The accident that creates Daredevil’s powers is only shown in it’s aftermath. It’s all about character building.
Of course we get the instances where Matt and his partner in crime Foggy are set out to establish their law firm. More importantly we witnessed the early appearances of Daredevil in the early black version of his costume.
So far the first seaons tells us that Daredevil is fresh on the scene, still honing his skills and trying to channel his anger while beating up bad guys. This makes for some entertaining action scenes where we see just how dangerous his world is and how unprepared he could be at times. We also get introduced to Karen Page who will no doubt will be a mainstay on the show. But the really fascinating thing is how they build up Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin. His story is shrouded with mystery and suspense. They do a really good job at showcasing how much power he wheilds and how feared he is in the city of Hell’s Kitchen.
Also introduced in the first five episodes of the show is Rosario Dawson’s character, Claire. She plays a nurse who saves Matt’s life after he was involved in a brutal ambush. I don’t want to spoil too much more because it is better to see it unfold for yourselves.
The characters and their portrayal is definitely one the highlights of the first five episodes so far. Our titular character, Daredevil/Matt Murdoch, is excellently played by Charlie Cox. Thankfully a far cry from Ben Affleck’s version. He says a lot without using his eyes which is quite difficult because they can be so valuable for any actor. He has, all this almost restrained, pent up anger at all times and Cox plays that extremely well. If that’s him during the fight sequences, it is even more impressive because they are extremely demanding. HE is also quite cable of keeping things light when he has too as well.
Both Foggy and Karen are portrayed well enough. They provide a decent amount of levity which is welcoming considering the show’s dark tone. They both feel accurate and seeds are being planted that will hopefully take their story to more interesting places.
The villainous supporting cast is convincing and just threatening enough. But it’s really Vincent D’ Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk which is the high point of the villains. You don’t see Wilson Fisk appear anywhere in the first three episodes actually. When he does show up, You see why he is as dangerous and as feared as he is. There is a particularly brutal scene between he and the member of the Russian Mob that ends, shall we say, bloody. Then on the other side of things, you get a softer almost tender moment between he and his lady friend, Vanessa. A wonderful juxtaposition surely. There’s a wonderful Easter egg during a conversation between the Fisk and Vanessa that is a nice little nod to the comic book version of the Kingpin. See if you catch it.
Some of the best action sequences I have seen on TV in years. The hand to hand combat goes at break neck speed but you see every moment clearly. No shaky cam on this one. One thing that was surprising to me is just how far they pushed some of the scenes. It seems that Marvel is not holding back and it shows that they have not diluted much of the material. One of the highlights of said action sequences is a continuous shot that last for about a minute and a half in episode 2.
Since we are talking about cinematography, it would be prudent to mention what a unique look the show has. it’s very well polished without being too polished. They do a great job of giving you visual nuggets. For instance, the focus on red pops in and out in a tasteful way. Even the show’s intro is well constructed and at one point showcases the scale of justice that reminds us that justice is blind. Too on the nose or just clever enough? I’ll lean towards the latter.
No major complaints at this point. The only thing that distracts me is the fact that this world supposedly exits in the same world as the Marvel cinematic universe. To me, this show is so different in its tone and style that its like comparing apples and oranges. It’s very clear when you watch a Thor movie and an Iron man movie that these two words coexist. I don’t see any connection with Daredevil aside from the occasional references to events or characters from the Marvel universe.
One important thing to mention is that this is not for kids. If your children enjoyed watching any of Marvel’s cinematic movies, I feel for them because it’s just not made for them. The show contains graphic use of violence, adult themes, cursing, and even explicit amounts of torture. I myself find it at tad extreme at some points. The reason I think this is a minor bad thing is for this is that the Marvel brand is so connected to a light hearted more family friendly tone, that I wonder if they really thought about just how dark they went with it. I can’t complain because as an adult it’s great!
All and all a very satisfying start that could very well lead to being the best live action superhero show of all time. Stay tuned for part 2.
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