After hearing so many praises and being pressured by so many people in the past year or so, I finally caved in and decided to give Daredevil a chance. Daredevil is a Netflix original series that was produced with a modest amount of help from Marvel Studios in order to get their lacking TV department a much needed boost (looking at you, Agents of Shield). Despite the amount of hype and praise I heard pertaining to this series, I was very skeptical going in. See, believe it or not (that was sarcasm, in case you didn’t pick up on it), I’m not really a huge fan of the things Marvel has been doing in recent years. Their most recent films (not counting Deadpool, since he is not a part of the overarching story) have been really really dumb. Ant-Man and especially Age of Ultron were just…bad. I get it, people love the humor that Marvel tends to bring to the table, but I can only take that for so long. Guardians of the Galaxy was great, because we knew that the humor was going to be the biggest focus. These other films… I’ll just say that it’s been too much for me to handle. I hated nearly everything about Age of Ultron because it didn’t take itself seriously whatsoever, despite what should have been a relatively dark plot compared to what we’ve seen in the past.
Anyway, if I keep going, I’ll have to label this as a rant instead of a review, so I’ll just segway into it here. Daredevil gave me what I’ve been craving from the Marvel Universe.
The 1st season contains 13 episodes that run for about 50 minutes each. While I still think there are parts that could have been cut out, the season was balanced extremely well. It didn’t pull a Walking Dead by making the first episode very exciting, dragging it on for eight episodes, and turning it back up in the end so that you’ll come back for the next season. Every episode has an important story to tell.
The biggest issue I had with the story is that, while everything is important, the first half of the season moves ridiculously slow compared to the second half. I didn’t realize until 3/4 of the way through the season finale that I was actually watching the season finale. As the season moves on, things get less and less “intense.” I think the only way this could have been fixed is if there hadn’t been so many opportunities for the antagonists to just clinch their fists for once and kill the hero. Towards the end, even though he gets the shit beat out of him multiple times, I stopped worrying about him; especially since secondary characters rarely face any danger at all, which is one of the reasons I have a hard time getting really invested in “superhero” movies/shows/whatever.
That being said, Daredevil brought in the dark and suspenseful tone that the rest of the Marvel Universe has failed to do. This was accomplished in two ways: 1) it is much more down-to-earth than the rest of the Marvel Universe, and 2) it has real characters that don’t feel cartoony or fake.
Charlie Cox is pretty great. This is the first time I’ve seen him, and I must say that I was pretty impressed. He made Matt Murdoch a real person with real internal conflict and real emotions.
Vincent D’Onofrio shows this very well too. He plays Wilson Fisk, (or, as you comic nerds might know him, Kingpin) and is able to project this theme of internal conflict very well. Wilson Fisk also brought something to the table that other Marvel movies can’t: I actually cared about the villain for once! Fisk was a real character, and the show, as well as D’Onofrio, did an excellent job of showing that.
Now that I’ve said all that, I will say that the script still had elements of typical Marvel rubbish in them. There are moments scattered throughout the season that made me cringe from either bad writing or pretty bad acting.
With the exception of Breaking Bad, this is some of the best directing I’ve seen in a TV series. The lighting is especially gorgeous in every episode. Props to Netflix and Marvel for getting a real A+ team for every episode.
Now, here’s the real kicker: the fight sequences in this show are outstanding. It feels real, and the camera work is really good in every sequence. Some of this falls mostly onto the stunt guys, but it really is something to watch, especially since your just not used to seeing superheros get exhausted in the middle of their fight. I love these movies, but do you remember a single time in the Dark Knight series where Batman looked just a little bit tired during or after one of his fights? I certainly don’t, and I’m not counting getting you’re spine split in half as being tired.
That opening song is pretty awesome, but it seems like having an awesome credits song is a necessity when it comes to TV series these days. John Paesano does a pretty good job of setting a tone throughout the series. It’s no Game of Thrones score, but it is good.
X-Factor: 4/10, Isn’t Daredevil basically Batman?
Seriously though, I can’t get over how similar the two characters are. Sure, Matt Murdoch is blind, and he isn’t a billionaire with tons of high tech gear at his disposal; but as characters, Daredevil and Batman are basically the same. They both see how evil and injustice have corrupted their city, and they both use frightening images to haunt the minds of would-be-criminals at night. Hell, there are even several jokes made in Daredevil about his use of echolocation and how similar he is to a bat! Tell me that’s not weird.
Here’s a newsflash for both Marvel and DC: the Dark Knight series is over and will probably be better than anything you will produce in the future. Get over it, you can’t win. So, please, stop trying to copy what Christopher Nolan and his excellent cast and crew already accomplished.
Daredevil is certainly a well made television series. If you like the things Marvel has been doing, then you should definitely give this a try. If you aren’t so much a fan of superhero movies but love white-knuckle action flicks, Daredevil might be for you too. However, if you can’t stand to see your heroes crack a few heads (and I mean compound fractures, blood and gore, on-the-verge-of-belonging in Watchmen kind of stuff) then this probably isn’t for you. This show has a lot of emotion, and most of that emotion is released through beating people to death in pretty violent ways.