The Watchers: Issue #0 - "Daredevil" Season 1
Earlier this month, Netflix teamed up with Marvel Studios to release a thirteen episode season of a brand new serial, starring the man without fear, Daredevil. This season would show the early stages of Matt Murdock taking the mantel, as well as introduce major players in the comic book established street level scene of the Marvel Universe, laying the ground work for future Netflix/Marvel serials: A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders.
Daredevil stars Charlie Cox in the title role, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Hanson as Foggy Nelson, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, the main antagonist of the series. The casting is one of the strongest points of the series. Cox plays blindness in a convincing way, and masterfully embodies the calculating intelligence and charismatic persona of Murdock. Hanson brings Nelson to life, beyond just a comic relief character, making the character deeply developed and important to the story. Perhaps the strongest performance comes from D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin from the comics. Fisk is genuinely terrifying, volatile, and violent, but also so well developed that the audience begins to feel compassion and understanding for him. This makes him less of a simple obstacle for Murdock, and more of an opposing force, equal in strength, and colliding in spectacular fashion.
As mentioned earlier, the series follows the early stages of Murdock’s transformation to a masked vigilante, but it doesn’t feel like a tired origin story. The explanation of how our protagonist lost his vision is given in the opening three minutes of the first episode, and the rest of his origin is given through flashbacks throughout the next ten episodes. This allows the viewer to learn the backstory gradually, while still being invested in the present of the story. We as viewers see Murdock rise and fall time after time as he develops who he is both with and without the mask. As someone who has watched many superhero movies, I am sick of origin stories, and this was an excellent may of handling the necessary evil they bring.
What really separates this series from the common idea of a superhero movie is the fact that it feels more like a court drama than something ripped from the panels of a comic book. Murdock and Nelson are attorneys in Hell’s Kitchen, a corrupt and crime-ridden area of New York that was trashed by the battle depicted in The Avengers. An equal amount of time is given to Matt Murdock in a suit researching the legal system to tear down the organized crime around him, as is given to Daredevil beating information out of thugs and drug dealers. This gives the viewer a real understanding of the dual life the title character lives, making them feel the same dividing feeling the Murdock feels about his own life.
Daredevil is not a family friendly show. Violence is given a spotlight, but not used for shock value. The brutality only ever adds to the story and character development, often leaving the viewer in a stunned state, and a loss for predictions of what will follow. Gore and violence is depicted in a realistic fashion, which makes it even more effective. The best example of this comes from a three minute fight scene at the end of the second episode. The fight scene takes place in a hallway where the Russian mob is holding a young boy as bait for the protagonist. The entire scene is showing in one continuous shot, where Daredevil takes out numerous opponents. The realism comes from the struggle between the two forces depicted. The hero is clearly exhausted, and at points looks as though he will fail to overcome these odds, rather than smoothly defeating the enemies without breaking a sweat. The villains are not the typically henchmen we are used to in films, taking one hit then never getting up, or crawling away to safety. These men get knocked down, get back up, and keep fighting. This better shows the reality of a multi-man fight than we are used to in film and television.
The plot of the story is well written, making each episode a valuable addition, with no throw away moments to extend the runtime. The twists keep coming right to the final moments of the last episode, and the action and intensity continue to rise from the very beginning, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat. The plot is also incredibly capable of standing alone, separate from the comic book source material, while still adding enough subtle nods and fan service to diehard fans (anyone else catch the “Mike” reference? No? Just me? Okay…) This makes it totally accessible for comic readers, superhero fans, and casual viewers alike.
I am completely enthralled by the show, having finished the final episode the day before posting this, and dying for more. As a comic book fan, it has pushed me to go back and read my favorite story arcs. As a film junkie, it has made me critique my former favorite films more carefully and with new insight. I highly recommend this show to comic book fans, and new comers alike.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the new Daredevil show on Netflix? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you everyone for reading. I know it has been awhile since my last post, but there is some big stuff in the pipeline, I promise.
Until next time, True Believers,