It looks like Marvel has finally gotten the Superhero TV show formula right. The Marvel cinematic universe expanded to TV with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. SHIELD started weak. There really is no nicer way of putting it. The show became fantastic when the events of Captain America 2 : The Winter Soldier leaked over onto the TV show. The greatness subsided and the show found its footing in ‘just okay.’ Marvel moved on to the land of the mini-series next. Agent Carter was a smart, well written, concise show with a coherent story line. The coherent storyline is really what set it apart from SHIELD (and Hayley Atwell, of course). SHIELD seems to be picking a new direction every few weeks. Carter had the same story line from beginning to end while dancing on the fringes of the superhero world without ever making the audience wonder why no hero would show up.
Daredevil premiered it’s entire first season on April 10th 2015. Netflix, following the usual bingeable model for TV shows released on the streaming platform gave us all thirteen episodes at once.
Daredevil is the story of a blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. As a child Matt Murdock is blinded by a chemical spill. In the show he pushes an old man out of the way, showing heroic roots as far back as grammar school. The chemicals took his eyes but heightened his other senses to superhero level. Lawyer by day and masked crime fighter by night Murdock takes up the mantle of Daredevil. Daredevil also, at least in the beginning, starts off following the new superhero styling of not saying the hero’s actual name.
Daredevil boasts an impressive cast. Charlie Cox (The Theory of Everything, Stardust) plays the titular character. He plays blind convincingly. Charming as a lawyer, and determined as a superhero. Elden Henson (Mockingjay, The Butterfly Effect) is Murdock’s lawyer partner Foggy Nelson. Not only is he one of the early Marvel character’s not named in alliteration but he is the comic foil of the show. Unlike most comic relief characters in TV and movies, Foggy is likable. Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood) is Murdock and Nelson’s first client as lawyers as well as the main case that Daredevil investigates in his after-hours adventures. Rosario Dawson and Vincent D’Onofrio are also powerhouse actors lending their talents to this series but did not show up in the pilot episode.
A major stand out for this series is the fight choreography. Early in the first episode is a fight scene where Daredevil takes on four scumbags with his bare hands. The fight is incredibly well done, balanced, and believable. Believable in context of the story of a blind lawyer with sonar like powers of perception and training from an old school boxing master that is. Daredevil “sees” things coming, which helps in his fight on crime. He has skills in boxing, jiu jitsu, and what looks like muay thai. He also exhibits some parkour skills and a fantastic ability to calculate angles and ricochet weapons. What grounds the fights is that Daredevil takes a beating. This factor may not sound like much, who wants to see a hero take a beating? But having him not be invincible helps the audience care, helps tell larger than life stories in a real world setting, and helps make the fights have stakes.
The story shows the origins of the hero through well placed flashbacks. The main story takes place in the early years of the hero’s war on crime in New York with bumps, mishaps, and all. The lawyering takes a back seat to the crime fighting (thankfully) but the stories are intertwined. Murdock’s day and night jobs seem to mix like Superman’s time at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent. Ear to the ground, eye on what’s coming and the ability to do something about it.
It looks like every episode is going to be about the character’s origins as well as his ‘current’ standing as a hero. John Patrick Hayden (Blue Bloods) plays Matt Murdock’s father. Jack Murdock is everything Daredevil is, and isn’t. Jack Murdock is a boxer, not a very successful one. Paid more to take a fall and take a beating than he is to stay on his feet he pushes his son to do something more with his life. To study hard in school and rise above their low station. Matt Murdock loves his father and takes the lessons he is given on the surface, as well as lessons in combat, doing what it takes, morality, and how the seedy underworld really works.
Just giving my initial impressions, trying not to delve too deep into spoilers Daredevil is a must see Netflix original series. With all the quality and care of the Marvel movie’s with a Disney sized budget and the ability to stream it on any device in HD for only eight bucks a month there is no reason not to watch this fantastic show. If Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are held in such high regard for being fairly average pieces of television Daredevil should do great making the superhero story a little more deeper and a little more relatable.
All that being said, DC seems to dominate Marvel in the TV game. It’s just too bad they are making the incredibly bad call of having their TV shows stand alone from the movies. With Arrow and Flash as successful as they are why would the actors, and large audience base, not be chosen to follow them into the films. Let’s face it. Arrow has been more widely accepted by fans than the last Batman or Superman installments. Daredevil could be the first show to start to turn this fact around. Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones are all to follow on Netflix. Along with a mini-Avengers mini-series… The Defenders.