Hell’s Kitchen is a cesspool. A child goes missing, taken by human traffickers. Drugs flood the streets, manufactured by a group of blind immigrants under the supervision of an old woman. Murderers freely roam without fear of getting caught. The superheroes who saved the world years ago are nowhere to be found to clean up the mess they left behind. The criminal element, emboldened by the destruction of The Battle of New York (referred to by residents as “The Incident”), have managed to take control of every vital element of the city and have started to bleed it dry. This is the world blind attorney Matt Murdock lives in.
Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a blind, charismatic attorney who just set up a law practice in Hell’s Kitchen with his best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). They are young, idealistic, and hungry for clients. At night, however, Matt dresses up in an all-black outfit with a bandanna over half his face, looking for criminals to beat up. It’s not enough that he finds the source of the evil that is eating up the city that he loves. The truth is, he enjoys going out and risking his life every night. And with every battle he survives, he loses a part of himself to something dark lurking inside of him.
Daredevil explores the dark and seedy underbelly of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a side never seen in any of the previous movies and shows. It’s violent and bloody, with people carrying out acts that are, to say the least, unpleasant. This is the world neither The Avengers or SHIELD are willing to touch, and only a blind lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante has the guts to go out and battle the disease that is slowly destroying the city that he loves so much.
Let me just get this out of the way: the fight scenes are brutal. You might as well feel every hit, and it hurts like a bitch. Nobody in Daredevil goes down in one hit. Everybody stays down, hurt, struggling to get up, ready to get beaten up again. It’s bloody and violet, and it fits – Daredevil may have superior senses and ninja training, but he does not have super-strength to keep an opponent down. As a result, the fights end up being ugly – more like a brawl, really, than a meticulously-choreographed superhero fight coming out of The Winter Soldier.
The fights may be brutal and ugly, but fight scenes are top-notch. Episode 2 features a three-minute brawl in a cramped corridor done in one take. It’s amazingly choreographed, and is probably the best scene in the season for me.
But the fights would mean nothing if we don’t have excellent characters to relate to. And let me tell you, casting is on point every single time. Charlie Cox plays a spot-on Matt Murdock/Daredevil, struggling with his desire to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place and the Catholic guilt he feels over every single person he beats up. Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson is the heart of the series – he may keep on talking about becoming a lawyer to earn money, but he did turn down a job at a prestigious law firm to open up his own practice with Matt. His moral compass is at times stronger than Matt, and he helps keep his partner grounded. Deborah Ann Woll plays Karen Page, Nelson & Murdock’s secretary. Sure, she way have started off as a damsel in distress, but as the season progressed she has shown herself to be adept and resourceful for her two bosses or when she’s on her own, investigating the circumstances behind an attempt to frame her for murder.
Vondie Curtis-Hall plays Ben Urich, a crime reporter determined to expose the corruption in Hell’s Kitchen. Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is a nurse who patches up Daredevil’s wounds after particularly bad nights. Finally, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk is a rising mobster who believes that eliminating Hell’s Kitchen’s crime syndicates will restore the city to its former glory. He, however, believes that taking over the businesses of the syndicates that he will eradicate, flooding the streets with drugs, murdering innocent people, and destroying entire blocks of homes will also help save his beloved city.
Overall, I saw that Netflix adapted elements of Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear (particularly the black costume) and a lot of the tone from Brian Michael Bendis’ seminal run. It was fun catching the seeds being planted for future Daredevil storylines – The Hand, Elektra, and Born Again in particular – and also seeing them set up elements for upcoming Marvel/Netflix series, especially Iron Fist, is also exciting.
Honestly, I love that Daredevil was given the TV series treatment instead of a movie. We had 13 episodes to get to know these characters, and I don’t think this level of violence wouldn’t have been possible on the big screen. It may be violent, dark, and brutal, but it carries as much heart as any Marvel property. It may be a huge departure from the fun and witty Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, but Daredevil is a worthy show that may be the best entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.
Thoughts on some SPOILERY PLOT POINTS:
- I didn’t hate the red costume as much as I thought I would. Melvin Potter did say that it’s incomplete yet, so I hope we get a more refined (read: closer to the comic) suit in the future.
- I’ll say it: Foggy Nelson is my favorite member of the cast. He’s the only member of the cast who isn’t so grim, and he reacts to so many things the way a normal person should. What I’m saying is that if I find my blind best friend beating up criminals at night, I’d freak the fuck out the same way he did.
- Ben Urich keeps on talking about the internet like it’s some magical bullet that’s going to get the news across. Also, the paper you work for is dying? Your newspaper doesn’t have a website? Are you guys some sort of luddites?
- Speaking of Ben, I’m very disappointed that they killed him. Sure, it made sense for the story, but man, what a waste of a fantastic character.
- That said, if a second season gets greenlighted, I want an all-out war between Daredevil (and The Defenders?) and The Hand.
- This is one time I am not happy that Netflix released an entire season in one go. I would’ve loved to watch an episode at a time, savoring and taking it all in, but my low-EQ ass just had to watch the entire thing in a whole weekend.
- They set up Elektra! I really hope they don’t get to her story, because I really hate that character, no matter how important she is to the Daredevil mythos.
- Deborah Ann Woll is such a perfect Karen Page. I am not looking forward to her Frank Miller-ization. Can we not make her a porn star and heroin junkie, please, showrunners?
- You know what I loved the most about this show? No contrived romances! No love triangles! Everybody reacts to stuff happening around them in a mature manner! No female characters written annoyingly like Laurel Lance and Iris West!
- Did anybody else catch the Community reference?
- Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed this show and haven’t read a single Daredevil comic, don’t worry. All you need to read right now is Frank Miller’s Born Again. Read it twice. Let it sink in. Then get started on the Bendis, Brubaker, and Waid stuff.
So there’s my Daredevil review. What did you think of Daredevil? If you loved or hated it, don’t hesitate letting me know by leaving a comment!