Daredevil Review Part Two: World Building, Women, And Stereotypes
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
Availability: one season with thirteen episodes streaming on Netflix
This is the second part of my Daredevil review. This section is also going to contain the things I didn’t like about this series.
There are the little things about Charlie Cox’s performance that make it great. He’s supposed to be human with only his senses enhanced, not his body. While Cox is suitably buff he doesn’t look inhuman like Chris Hemsworth sometimes does. Much like Tony Stark Matt’s superpowers are much more mental than physical. It makes for the perfect type of hero that Netflix and Marvel seem to be going for with the Netflix venture; street level heroes fighting for their cities instead of the world. Cox plays Matt’s blindness but doesn’t make it too over the top. It’s the little things like the way he doesn’t quite look in the right direction when talking to people. He has great backup by Elden Hanson as his partner Foggy Nelson. I imagine there are some people that might find Foggy annoying but I loved how earnest he was. He really just wants to help the people of Hell’s Kitchen and his friendship with Matt is great.
The world building is the final thing that I really liked about Daredevil. There have been very few movies that have really talked about what the fallout from something like the alien battle in The Avengers would be. It’s heavily hinted at that the entire plot wouldn’t have happened were it not for the destruction. In the background we see a newspaper article talking about the “battle of New York” and most of the plot is centered around rebuilding Hell’s Kitchen after the destruction. It’s the first time we’ve really seen the consequences of the various battles that are happening in the movies. This is the first time someone has really addressed what happens after the dust settles when these huge battles that The Avengers fight in take place and I loved that.
The three main women in the series, Claire Temple, Karen Page and Vanessa, are all fully developed and three dimensional characters, but the MCU appears to be suffering from the same problem it has been working through from the beginning; a lack of women. Claire, Karen and Vanessa, along with the villain Madam Gao and a single elderly woman, appear to be the only women in this version of New York City. This is a problem that the MCU seems to have in general; one only needs to take a look at the Age of Ultron press tour and how Scarlett Johansson is surrounded by men. There wasn’t any reason for there not to be any women in the background. There isn’t a single women henchmen or cop, whether they are ultimately good or evil. Karen has to be rescued at the beginning of the show, and while her story kicks off the plot she doesn’t have much to do afterwards. Claire only shows up for five episodes and has to be saved as well.
I’ve also seen people say that the show reinforces oriental stereotypes but some of them are world building for the Iron Fist series due out the end of 2016. The fact that the head of the Yakuza just happens to be a Ninja probably isn’t the best thing, but as far as everything concerning Madam Gao and the Chinese I believe that is something we’ll see pay off in Iron Fist at the end of 2016. The violence, as I’ve mentioned, might not be for everyone and I would not hold that against them. While these issues are present and the lack of women is a big one, it isn’t enough to kneecap the entire series by a long shot.
Daredevil is a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It easily has the best villain we’ve seen so far and excels in world building that we haven’t seen much yet. There are a few problems here and there but it isn’t nearly enough to ruin the series. I’m hoping these problems are ironed out in AKA Jessica Jones later this year. If this is the bar that Marvel is setting for the rest of its Netflix ventures, then we’re in for a treat.