Daredevil brings to life the grit, passion, and ink off the page, to offer a fantastic adaptation of one of the most dramatic, and yet powerfully human comic book characters.
It is telling of the quality of the series from the outset that we are spared the drawn out origin tale of an ordinary man turned super hero. Matt Murdoch is already Daredevil at the start of the series, if not in name, certainly in deed. This is beyond refreshing. At some point someone had to decide to forgo this tired trope, and just get to the point. To our benefit, Daredevil has chosen to dive right into the good part.
And what better way to get straight to the point than with old-fashioned, bloody action? Every fight sequence is a violent ballet. What makes them truly remarkable is that every fight Daredevil finds himself in is a struggle, never “as easy as it looks on TV”. Many times you don’t actually know which way a fight will go, and some of the most breathtaking scenes are when the fight is over, and Daredevil limps away, battered, and breathless.
But what really makes Daredevil so enticing is i’ts mesmerizing characters. Even the supporting characters are fully fleshed out, and attain surprising realism. Rarely is every sub-plot, and side-character, equally as compelling as the main story, and yet in Daredevil it is hard to imagine the show without any of the supporting roles.
As for the main characters, Charlie Cox absolutely nails the role of Matt Murdock. I said earlier that the series begins with Daredevil already established, but that isn’t entirely true. A masked man does stalk the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen, searching for evildoers to bring to justice, but it is over the course of thirteen episodes that Matt Murdoch becomes Daredevil, and it is because of Charlie Cox that this hero becomes so believable.
Vincent D’Onofrio delivers a calculating, malevolent Wilson Fisk, or “Kingpin”, who constantly struggles with a perplexing tenderness that often boils over into shocking rage. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, Kingpin might be the role D’Onofrio was born to play. He is so good at conveying controlled inner turmoil with a shimmer of insanity just below the surface that he absolutely commands every scene. When his rage is unleashed he very nearly jumps through the screen!
Equally as enticing is art gallery employee, Vanessa, who pursues a relationship with Fisk knowing full well his penchant for brutality. While relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, she is perhaps the most cryptic character because of her intelligent, refined nature, and how she dives into Fisk’s world with eyes wide open. She quickly becomes his most treasured possession, and confidant. She is his muse, and embodiment of his quest to change the city in his image.
I was surprised to find myself rooting for the potential romance between Foggy, Matt Murdoch’s partner at law, and Karen Page, their client-turned-secretary. The best part of their scenes together is the natural humor that flows between them, and the inherent goodness and innocence they bring into Matt’s life. Without them Matt Murdock would be nothing, and Daredevil could not find the strength to save his city.
In essence, Daredevil is about friendships, how those relationships can become so strong they fundamentally alter the people who enter into them. Both Matt Murdock, and Wilson Fisk surround themselves with friends, or at the very least, trusted confidants. But it is how these relationships pull and tear at the fabric of these two characters that drags you into the alluring drama that is Daredevil.
Daredevil provides the nitty-gritty details of an otherwise fantastical Marvel screen universe. Where Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man are flashier, more elaborate superhero offerings, Daredevil is perhaps the most human, real hero yet. It takes what Marvel learned in Agents of SHIELD, and elevates the dramatic potential of the genre to surprising heights. Every episode is gripping from beginning to end, and every scene flows together to make a flawless first season. I had high hopes for Daredevil, and to say it more than paid off betrays how truly excellent it is. I implore you to binge-watch the hell out of this show as soon as you can!