13 episodes, 2 cans of Monster, and a family-sized bag of Doritos later, and I’m finally finished watching Daredevil. Countless fans across the world have been waiting with bated breath to see how the Man Without Fear would turn out in Marvel’s first direct-to-Netflix episodic series. Was it worth the wait?
Yes. Yes it was.
Daredevil has to be one of the best live-action superhero TV adaptations I’ve ever seen, and this is coming from a guy who firmly believed that DC had a monopoly on quality television shows. Marvel Studios seriously knocked it out of the park with this one. This 13-episode miniseries is enough to wash the bitter taste of 2003’s Daredevil out of your mouth and refresh you with a jaw-dropping, realistic look at the blind superhero from Hell’s Kitchen. (minor spoilers ahead!)
First off, this show has made some amazing casting choices. Charlie Cox is phenomenal as Matt Murdock. His voice, his demeanor, his mannerisms – all perfectly encapsulate the hero’s qualities down to a T. I had never seen Cox act before and had to rely on people’s positive reviews of his role on Boardwalk Empire to appreciate his talent. This show is what will probably turn him into a breakout star. I wouldn’t be surprised if he begins popping up in hit movies in the future, and not just Marvel movies.
I wasn’t ecstatic about other casting choices like Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, but I didn’t hate them either. The characters themselves are fairly bland, so it’s not the actors’ faults if they don’t exactly make them pop on screen. However, I will say that the chemistry between Henson, Woll, and Cox’s characters is spot-on.
Another fantastic casting choice is Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. I thought Michael Clarke Duncan did a decent job in 2003; in fact, I’d say he was the only redeeming factor of that trash-heap of a film. But holy %$&# is D’Onofrio great. Unlike Duncan’s Fisk, he’s more than just a huge, imposing powerhouse who walks around growling at people. D’Onofrio is extraordinarily charismatic and charming, and almost seems like a hero himself. That is what makes him such a powerful villain. Someone with the power to entice others and lure them into his way of thinking is a dangerous person who could turn the whole world upside down. D’Onofrio’s Fisk is also motivated by love, which can be a lethal catalyst for a man of his stature and temper. At one point, he actually decapitates a man with a car door for interrupting his date. This is the first time we get a glimpse of his hair-trigger attitude and see just what kind of monster is lurking beneath his humble disposition.
I could go on all day about the incredible casting in Daredevil (I’m looking at you, Scott Glenn and Rosario Dawson), but let’s look at the meat of the show.
Like with any origin story, you have to go through some tedious build-up. Personally, I thought Daredevil had a great origin setup that rivaled the likes of Batman Begins. We see Daredevil in action right away, and then the show cuts to flashbacks every once in a while to see how he trained and became the hero he is today. DC fans may get a similar vibe to Arrow, but Daredevil does a better job at this because it uses flashbacks sparingly. At least 50% of Arrow‘s programming revolves around going back to Oliver’s past and learning of his development into a hero, which takes up a lot of time and can get tedious. Daredevil stays in the present as much as possible and supplements episodes with minor flashbacks only when they are absolutely necessary.
The 13-episode series revolves around a single primary story arc with very little subplots scattered throughout. Unlike other superhero television shows, there are no “villains of the week” on Daredevil. This caught me off-guard as I expected to see the titular hero tackling a new foe each episode. Instead, we’re treated to hour-long building blocks that eventually culminate in a tremendous finale. While I would’ve loved to have seen Daredevil encounter various villains like Bullseye or Insomnia, I’m not complaining about what we got in its stead.
I always love a good superhero fight scene; it’s one of the reasons I love films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Dark Knight Rises so much. Superheroes are known for kicking ass, so it’s safe to assume that we get at least one bad-ass fight scene in any superhero movie or show. Daredevil gives us that much and more. The choreography is unbelievable. They took the time to figure out the perfect fight moves, camera angles, and sound effects to give fans what we truly wanted. Every single punch and kick sounds satisfying. The end of the second episode features an epic fight scene that strongly reminded me of the hallway battle in Oldboy. I actually re-watched it twice before moving onto the next episode. No regrets.
Another fun aspect of the show that I want to lightly touch upon is its connection to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though Daredevil is definitely connected, it stays within its own boundaries. We catch Easter Eggs like newspaper clippings of the Hulk’s rampage through Harlem, and then we notice huge connections like when Nelson and Murdock find a cheap office space because it was damaged in the Battle of New York from Avengers Assemble. At one point, I heard someone mention a “rising tide”, which could’ve been an off-hand remark, but it made me think of Skye’s hacker group from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Overall, the show does well by keeping itself restrained within its own universe while still offering fan service by acknowledging events in the outer parts of the MCU.
Daredevil is excellent. The noir ambience mingling with the superhero genre is perfect for this adaptation, and even if you’re not a fan of Daredevil as a character, you will want to check this one out. Just make sure you’re ready for anything; Marvel may be owned by Disney, but Daredevil gets pretty graphic at times. It’s not a kid’s game anymore. This is the real deal.
Also, we will be providing episode-by-episode reviews for Daredevil starting next week. Check back to read more in-depth articles about each episode!
Have you had a chance to watch Daredevil yet? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or give us a shout on Twitter!