I’ve said in the past that while Marvel was overshadowing DC with their theatrical releases, DC was hands-down beating Marvel in the television department (“Agent Carter” being a welcome improvement). This was a minor concern for me (Marvel girl) until I heard that Marvel was going to Netflix for their “Daredevil” adaptation.
Although this was a welcome announcement, knowing that the series wouldn’t be handcuffed by standard broadcast television ratings restrictions, how the story would be handled was still a concern — until I saw the first trailer. And now that I’ve seen the series, I can honestly say that if they do half as well with “A.K.A. Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage”, “Iron Fist” and a miniseries for “The Defenders”, all Marvel fans will have something new to be giddy about.
Full disclosure: I watched all 13 episodes over the first two nights it was available. Then watched them again over another three nights starting a couple of days later. Because, Daredevil.
This “Daredevil” adaptation is based on the Frank Miller “Man Without Fear” miniseries, and served as the basis for the initial “man in black” costume worn throughout Season 1 (don’t worry, eventually we do get the payoff and see the iconic red uniform and batons). I think a balance has been set as a very good origin story for both Daredevil and Kingpin, because not only do we get to see how much they are willing to sacrifice of themselves to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place (even though they have vastly different approaches to their desired goals), we see their desires grow almost to obsession, and how that shapes the characters they become.
There was something oddly satisfying about how we saw flashbacks to Matt Murdock’s childhood interwoven with with current events, to see how what happened to him shaped his destiny, but we knew almost nothing about Wilson Fisk until our main characters — Matt, Foggy, and Karen Page — discovered new bits of information during their investigation into who he was… we learned along with them how he came to be, as well as seeing what machinations and violence he was capable of in order to further his greater plans along.
I thought that Rosario Dawson’s Claire was underused, but since romantic subplots for the most part were avoided for all the protagonists, I can see why they avoided that (with both Claire and Karen). Plus, bringing Stick into the series in so dramatic a fashion, and introducing The Hand leaves the door open for Elektra in Season 2 or beyond. Personally, when the rights to “Daredevil” reverted back to Marvel a few years back, my first hope was that we’d get a feature film focusing on an adventure with both Daredevil and Black Widow, but the folks at Marvel Entertainment had different ideas, and given their track record of excellent stories so far, I won’t complain.
Showing how much damage Matt Murdock received while fighting, and seeing how much he had to let himself heal whenever he was hurt too badly was a welcome bit of realism. It also played a key role in his trying to come up with a way to add armor to protect himself, but without slowing him down or affecting his ability to move or fight. And yes, the fights and violence throughout the series go beyond what you’d normally find on television or basic cable, so if you’re squeamish about lots of blood and lots of violent damage to human bodies, this is your fair warning. After all, Steven S. DeKnight was also the showrunner for Starz’s “Spartacus”, and he seems to have brought a similar eye for stylized violence with him to “Daredevil”.
I initially thought that Karen’s investigation into Wilson Fisk was drawn out a little too long, and also thought that Foggy and Matt should have picked up on the fact that she was still investigating on her own much sooner than they did, but the consequences of that investigation were satisfyingly shocking, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out for Karen in future seasons.
Either way, this is a series that I’m comfortable watching again — or binge-watching again — many more times over the next year, to tide me over until we get the next show in the Marvel series.
Speculating on future seasons of “Daredevil” could be just as much fun — we already know that “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage” are listed on Netflix as upcoming series, and they do tie in to the section of New York City that we see Daredevil inhabits; in the comics, they are both good friends of Matt Murdock’s, even to the point where Luke Cage took over being Daredevil for a while. This also connects The Defenders, since Luke Cage was a member for a time, but that also could connect Doctor Strange, who knows Daredevil and has worked with him as well.
We already know that filming began on “Jessica Jones” back in February, but now it looks like we might not see the series until 2016, not the late 2015 date originally announced.
Either way, this Marvel girl can’t wait for more to come out of Marvel Studios.
Other interesting related “Daredevil” (and Netflix) news: some fans found it ironic that a series featuring a blind man was not fully accessible to the visually impaired. Netflix has previously not acknowledged or changed any programs in the past, but apparently the popularity of “Daredevil” combined with the fact that the main protagonist is also blind gathered enough momentum that for the first time ever, Netflix added audio assistance to their programming for the visually impaired, thanks in large part to the efforts of a Chicago journalist and activist, who is blind and a huge Daredevil fan.