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SERIES PREMIERE REVIEW: Daredevil 1×01 “Into the Ring”

Alright, we have a lot of these to get through and in turn a lot of material to cover as Daredevil was released by Marvel and Netflix Friday morning. Binge TV is very much a drug and dependent on how great that first taste is whether we will want to keep going and for Daredevil “Into the Ring” is a pretty great first test. The large majority of our main characters have strong chemistry and foundation, the overall scenery is incredibly vivid and feels lived in, and the action is all on par with what I expect from a Steven DeKnight series. The story that we follow over the course of the thirteen episodes is largely an organ of how Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, becomes the Daredevil we know. The grittiness of his world and how he interacts with characters like Foggy and Claire manage to add life to the show in a way I did not expect, but at the end of the day this show is just brutal in scope and how it depicts the struggles of Hells Kitchen.

It has been said a lot in interviews and previews just how dark and brutal Daredevil is as a show but you don’t really have a respect for that statement till you sit down and watch it. Watching Matt beat down some Russian gangsters or seeing Karen gouge out some guys eye clearly demonstrates just how far off the beaten path this is from our average Marvel fare. There is certainly a fair amount of humor and Cox is incredibly charming in how he plays Matt vs Daredevil, but we can clearly see how run down and out of place Hells Kitchen is in comparison to the rest of the Marvel universe. There are some beautiful choices in the color palette in how the light plays off of Matt’s suit or the rain lighting in the final confrontation of the episode that help to nail home the gritty and moody feeling of the episode and really elevate a lot of the material.

With Cox’s portrayal of Murdock we get a ton of really interesting material to cover and a unique display of his abilities. Gone are the days of the echo world and instead we are treated like real viewers and given the context of Matt’s powers. The show assumes we will understand that Matt is judging Karen by her heartbeat that he is ascertaining the location of his opponents through the cocking of a gun of the grunt of a lunge. This portrayal allows us to feel like insiders in Matt’s world rather than the outside observers the viewer is usually portrayed as. Its like if you gave us a first person view of teleportation, it allows us to become closer to that characters mindset and how they feel in any situation. I love that I never feel like an outsider in Matt’s crusade but rather a partner in crime for the situation. When Matt is afraid or angry I am easily able to understand and relate with those emotions.

Similarly I love the way we are introduced to Karen and the bigger mystery of the season surrounding her former place of employment and Mr. Wesley. We are immediately meant to sympathize with Karen’s predicament and it is easy to see why considering how charming and scared she is. What I really liked about her arc this episode however is that even though she was scared of the situation around her, Karen was still attempting to fight back against those who were trying to frame her for murder. Having all of that extra evidence hidden in her apartment or the fact that she was willingly being confrontational with her case helps to show that she will not simply be the damsel in distress which makes me happy as a I hate weak characters. Although it is easy to see how this could be her defining moment of the series, Karen manages to evolve later on while at the same time letting this entire situation be the impetus for her development.

Where the series manages to shine however is how the fights are done as DeKnight’s previous work or Spartacus is in full display. Though these fights were not quite up to the caliber you would see in Spartacus they are indeed brutal as watching that final rainy fight helped to show off the unique camera angles and dynamic nature of the fights we will see throughout the season. Since Matt does not have his trademark sticks yet the fights are all the more  brutal because of it. Watching Matt wail on people with his fists was something to behold as you could see that even with a mixture of disciplines Murdock was still a boxer at heart.

Overall it was a really strong start and I love what it sets up.

Final Grade B+

+Amazing color palette and setting

+Strong dark tone

+Strong characterization for both Matt and Karen

+Great depiction of abilities

-Kingpin not introduced

Extra Thoughts

-No matter where you go or what you do Elden Henson you will always be Fulton from The Mighty Ducks. Still great as Foggy though.

-Apparently Hells Kitchen is crappy due to the attack in The Avengers. Synergy

-I don’t know why it is so gratifying but Owlsley being the quippy one is super enjoyable. That “Chechens kidnap a preschooler weather” bit was funnier than it should have been.

About the author

Scott Swartz