Daredevil Review Part One: Villains, Religion, And Violence
Creator: Drew Goddard
Principal Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosario Dawson, Tony Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Ayelet Zurer
Summary: A blind lawyer, with his other senses superhumanly enhanced, fights crime as a costumed superhero. — via IMDB
Rated TV-MA: Suggested MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, drug material and language.
Availability: one season with thirteen episodes streaming on Netflix
I’ve been a fan of Marvel for several years now and I was one of the people who was very happy when they announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I was also one of the people who was not very impressed with the first season. While I think the show suffered mostly because it had to keep the reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D. was evil because of the Captain America: Winter Soldier release date, it ended up having to spend the first half of a season basically jogging in place. The show is a lot better now even though it hasn’t blown me away. Agent Carter was very good but it also didn’t catch a lot of viewers. I’ve been very interested in this new Netflix series when they were announced it a little while ago. The trailers have been very promising and I’ve been a fan of Charlie Cox since Stardust. There was a chance it could be a let down like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Daredevil is a master class on how to do the superheroes on television with great acting, brutal fight scenes, the best villain in the MCU yet and awesome world building. It’s by far the best we have seen so far in the Marvel Cinematic (television) Universe.
There are a lot of benefits that television has over movies and Daredevil takes advantage of that. While something like Guardians of the Galaxy has two hours to make Ronan a compelling villain, Daredevil has thirteen hours to make a compelling villain and that is exactly what they do. Vincent D’Onofrio is the Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin and he is the best villain we’ve seen in the MCU thus far. He is a terrifying presence physically, but it’s not until he opens his mouth that we really get a feeling about who he is. Fisk’s conversations with Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) in particular are so compelling because he seems like he has to force the words out in order to carry on a conversation with her. It’s not until the end of episode four that we see that the hesitation in his speech might actually come from trying to keep his anger in check.
Charlie Cox plays the lead as the blind lawyer Matt Murdock and the vigilante Daredevil. If there is one thing that Daredevil focuses on is Matt’s Catholicism. In the first episode Matt confesses to a priest about what he is about to do, not what he has done, and one of the best lines in the series comes from that.
Priest: how are you holding up?
Matt: like a good Catholic boy.
Priest: oh, that bad?
Matt’s religion is almost always brought up because it takes a certain type of person to be a lawyer that works within the law as a lawyer and then works as a vigilante outside the law. That is a punishing juxtaposition and it’s something that comes up a lot. It’s also something that the long running time of the show takes advantage of. Matt’s arc is done very well and it feels even more satisfying because it’s developed so well.
The fight scenes are something that people are going to be talking about. This is the first Marvel property that isn’t PG-13. There aren’t any swear words in Daredevil, but the violence has been kicked up quite a bit. The fight scenes are brutal and go on for so much longer than is comfortable. They show that someone fighting like this in the real world would get hurt, it would take awhile to get a room full of guys to stay down, and there would be plenty of blood spilled. It’s not over the top violence like in Kick Ass, but the fight scenes are realistic enough that you’ll be cringing on more than one occasion. This type of violence and darkness is very different from the rest of the MCU thus far which is usually more family oriented. I tend to come down on DC properties for being joyless and I’m usually the first one to say that superheroes are not grim and gritty, but I feel like Daredevil isn’t that. This is a much darker side of the MCU but there are moments of joy, mostly that comes out of the relationships between the various characters that counter the violence and the darkness.
Since I apparently have a lot to say the second part of this review will cover the world building in Daredevil, the excellent relationships between all of the characters and the major flaw that hurts the entire production but not enough to kill it.