When Netflix unleashed Marvel’s Daredevil there were high hopes. Comic book fans were hoping to wash the bad taste of Ben Affleck and Coolio out of thier mouths from the 2003 film. This is not to say anyone else who has gotten Ben Affleck and/or Coolio in thier mouth wouldn’t want to wash it away regardless as to the delivery system. Non comic book fans were likely curious as to why they should care about the blind super hero from Hell’s Kitchen. I am here to give you at least five of the countless reasons I think you should give the show a shot. A word of warning; however, as spoilers will come up.
5. The Marvel Movies Directly Tie Into the Show From the first few episodes, the Battle of New York as witnessed in Marvel’s Avengers directly ties into the story of how Wilson Fisk and his co-conspiritors was able to raise to power in their little slice of the Big Apple. Aside from that obvious reference, there are a lot of things going on in the background too. There is an article referencing the fight between Hulk and Abomination that happened in Harlem, other heroes are mentioned by name as existing in this world, and there is even a name drop to “Crusher” Creel who would later go on to become the Absorbing Man in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Speculatively, a character says later in the series that she lives further away than anticipated, a line I took to mean that she was otherworldly – a concept we have grown to accept from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again, this was just hinted at and not cannon, but I thought I’d throw that out there.
4. The Creative Team Behind Angel While the credits rolled, I couldn’t help but notice a few names I recognized and after doing my research things began to fall into place. This season reminded me of the first season of Angel, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff. The series begins as a “going into business” story between college buddies Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson. The end of the first episode adds the dynamic of their secretary/researcher Karen Page that feels similar to the Angel/Doyle/Cordelia chemistry that I enjoyed from the first season of Angel. Discovering that the creative team behind Daredevil were instrumental with Angel makes sense in this regard, but make no mistake – Daredevil veers more toward the dark and brooding world of Matt Murdock than it does Angel. Which was dark and brooding too, but you know what I mean.
3. The Fight Scenes Are Spectacular The problem I’ve always had with the other Marvel properties is that there isn’t as much of a feeling of mortality to the preceedings. We al know Captain America can take a lot of punishment, Thor is nearly invincible, and even Black Widow never seems to get so much as a hair out of place when performing flawless hurricanranas to foes. Daredevil doesn’t have this shiny veneer when fisticuffs breaks out. The fights are brutal and have a weight to them that make you feel every punch, every kick, and every knife to the side. The violence isn’t sexy at all and that is what seperates this from anything else Marvel has released. The consequenses feel real. The only down side to this is that the best fight scene (though they are all great) happens in the second episode of the season. Seven minutes of brutal savegry without any cuts in a clostrophobic hallway in an obvious nod to Oldboy or The Raid. Nothing like it has ever been on television.
2. The Acting Is Emmy Worthy We all knew that Wilson Fisk was going to be an exceptional character when we found out that Vincent D’Onofrio was going to play him in the series. He did not disappoint. Each time the Kingpin is on screen it was like watching a caged animal. Calm and calculating. He was waiting to strike. The most unnerving thing about him was how uncomfortable he seemed around everyone, almost like he had to rehearse everything he said to them before he actually said it so that it would have the desired effect. It was actually sort of creepy. Charlie Cox as Daredevil was a revelation to me since I had never seen Boardwalk Empire, but the choices he made were brilliant. Matt Murdoch can see a “world on fire,” but he played a man pretending to be more helpless than he really is fantastically and in costume he was imposing without any of the silliness that we put up with in the theatrical Batman movies. The secondary cast was perfect as well adding to the universe and mythos in a way that fit. There are so many that I won’t go into them all here, but everyone brings something real and unexpected to the table. There isn’t one weak link.
1. It Is A Better Batman Show Than Gotham I really don’t understand how anyone could go back to thinking Fox’s “Gotham” is still a well made TV show about Batman after Daredevil, honestly. I admit to have only watched one episode of that series, but it was off putting how much it felt like the show tries to use the good will of the Batman mythos to get people into the show. The only interesting thing that I saw on the show was the “B” story about the Penguin and with a show about Gotham, that seems like a strange direction to go into. With The Riddler, The Scarecrow, and the Penguin all being 20-30 years older than Bruce Wayne it sends a slightly unsettling message that Batman will be beating on men in their 50’s and 60’s (in the comics Bruce is around his early 30’s when he dons the mask). This makes him less of a hero to me since he would have the same affect on his rogues gallery as osteoporosis would if he just waits a few years. If you don’t agree with me, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Kevin Smith had an entire “Utility Belt” show (a name I came up with for a segment that was not about Batman)on his podcast Fatman on Batman where all he and Marc Bernard discuss Daredevil and only Daredevil. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. P.S. Kevin, if you read this I would love a shoutout for coming up with “Utility Belt.” Our little podcast could use the publicity!