The way Daredevil should have been done the first time
by Nav Qateel
Netflix has hit one home run after another, with shows that are incredibly well written, contain no ads and are released an entire season at a time. From the political masterpiece House of Cards to the bio crime drama Orange is the new Black, Netflix appears to have the Midas touch. As well as adding seasons to their existing shows, this year saw them release Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and now, Daredevil.
I guess it was only a matter of time before Netflix got in on some lucrative superhero action, and by teaming up with Marvel, the results were all the more predictable. The show has a dark, noir quality to it, and with its New York, Hell’s Kitchen backdrop, the whole thing looks and feels like the perfect setting for our blind crimefighter to right wrongs, battle evil, and save lives.
The first thing that caught my attention was just how well Matt Murdock’s backstory was weaved into the first few episodes. Daredevil’s origins are a very important part of who he is, and it makes him all the more believable to us. He may have been left blind as a young boy, thanks to a toxic spill, but it also left him with heightened, superhuman awareness. Matt hears sounds amplified many times, and he can also tell when the air pressure around him alters, allowing him to defend or attack. But he can, and does, get hurt. A lot. Matt’s father, Jack Murdock, was famous in Hell’s Kitchen as a boxer who never won a fight, but was also never knocked out. It’s from him the Matt learns how to take a severe beating. But it’s also from his father that he learns morality, as you’ll discover in the earlier episodes.
By day, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his partner, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), are newbie lawyers who’ve just hung out their shingle. By night, Matt becomes a masked crimefighter. Foggy and their new secretary, Karen Page (played by former True Blood regular, Deborah Ann Woll), are unaware of Matt’s nocturnal activities, which in itself is quite a feat for a blind man. As of episode 7 — which I had to reluctantly stop at to write this review — Matt is still using a black woollen cap pulled down over his eyes to keep his identity secret, with no sign of his superhero suit in evidence. I’m not a comic-book reader, so I know little of the ins and outs of Daredevil’s origins. But there’s a scene early on, where a young, blind Matt, is feeling his dad’s new boxing shorts. They’re the same color as standard boxing gloves, which just so happen to be the color of Daredevil’s outfit. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so, however I could be proven wrong as the series progresses, as more is revealed about our hero.
Charlie Cox was actually far better than I’d expected as the blind superhero, playing it with a nice balance of humor, and tough lawyer with plenty of street smarts. Foggy is there to provide the comic relief that is expected in this sort of franchise. The stunning Deborah Ann Woll provides sufficient eye candy, via being the obligatory secretary who works for free as her way of paying the new lawyers for getting her off in their very first case. As well as various nationalities of bad guys that are part of a consortium, including Japanese, American, Chinese and Russian, the leader of these ruthless human traffickers, is a bald Vincent D’Onofrio, playing the utterly ruthless Wilson Fisk. Fisk’s direct underling, James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore), is always on hand to assist Fisk in all matters, including that of the heart.
As previously mentioned, the writing is one of this show’s strongest points, and it offers details normally unseen in crime shows. The bad guys have their own origins of sorts, and while we never actually empathise with any of them, it fleshes them out, adding a further dimension to their characters. There’s a touching scene, if “touching” is the right word for it, involving Fisk and the woman who runs the art gallery he buys a painting from. The ever private Fisk asks her on a date, and we learn enough about Fisk from what transpires, that, while he’d love to have companionship, his criminal life will always find a way to sour and spoil things, denying him anything resembling normality.
The bone-crunching fights are astounding, and the long, beautifully choreographed sequences are something to truly admire. I’ve always been a fan of long tracking shots, where it’s clear that the smallest mistake means that everyone must start from scratch. Anyone who loves Korean action movies will feel right at home here. I could so picture Min-Sik Choi mixing it up with Daredevil’s bad guys, such is the style of action.
Every time Netflix release a new series, I feel confident that I’ll enjoy it, no matter what the genre. Netflix now stands for quality, while the competition can’t even guarantee they’ll complete a season of anything new they bring out. Clearly, releasing entire seasons in one go is the way forward, and the sooner the others learn this fact, the better for us, the viewers, it will be.