An excellent start to Netflix’s foray in to the world of gritty Marvel action. Full of jaw-dropping set pieces, fantastic characters and actors who are willing to give it their all. If this is the beginning, I honestly cannot wait to see the rest of the journey.
First of all, let me just say that I am a big comic book geek, especially when it comes to Marvel. The worlds that they have created, the overarching stories that play out for their wide plethora of in-depth, complex characters, are simply mid-blowing. And then there are the films. They may not be perfect, but they are damned good, and just what the comic book fanboy was crying out for. This was not always the case. Before Iron Man set the world alight with the introduction of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), it is safe to say that the majority of the attempts to bring comic books to film failed miserably. If you cast your mind back to 2003, you will recall that Daredevil was one of these utter failures.
So it was with great trepidation that I went in to this, especially upon learning that it was somewhat of an origin story. I have never been the greatest fan of Daredevil anyway, and the 2003 film only succeeded in dampening that meek interest. Now, however, I have to say that the Daredevil of the MCU is possibly my favourite character of them all, and that is in no small part thanks to Charlie Cox’s fantastic portrayal of the titular character. He gives it his all and plays his part with such success that you will truly believe that he is a blind man. And he is not alone. There is not a single dud amongst this cast. Special mention goes out to Vincent D’Onofrio who is superb as the cunning Kingpin, quite probably my favourite villain to grace the TV screens in a very long time. He is not one dimensional, instead there is real gravitas and relatability behind the reasons for his actions.
Not only are the characters grounded and believable, the overall show is smartly written. We see both the human and vigilante sides to Matt Murdock, with each as encapsulating as the other. His friends and acquaintances show us different sides of a complex character that could never be properly conveyed in a mere two hour film. A lot of this success is down to Steven DeKnight’s expert handling of the show. There are definite hints of his previous show, the excellent Spartacus, whether it is the clever use of slow motion, or the subtlety in his vibrant use of blood in emphasising the characters’ physical hurt. It is much more toned downed than it was in Spartacus, and carries much more effect as a result.
A lot of attention should be drawn to the phenomenal choreography throughout the show, especially in a certain corridor scene in the second episode. It is of the like that I have never seen before on TV, and is not far off the complexity seen in many foreign martial arts films. This is not a show where the main character takes a beating and then shrugs it off as if nothing has happened. Matt Murdoch gets hurt, and he gets hurt bad, but he fights on through the wounds and the pain, and this adds a grittiness and realism that is missing from so many other TV shows of this ilk.
This is a show about human characters who are very capable of feeling pain and betrayal. There are twists that you will not see coming and action that is currently unparalleled in any other such TV shows at this time. Netflix has been able to gift us with something unique in this property they have acquired, something grounded and very human and if they are able to continue producing Marvel shows of this quality, then we are all in for a bright future. Yes, the links to the MCU may be tenuous, but can that really be a criticism when it allows us to view something as brilliant as this.