Daredevil, the Netflix show, came out last Friday. In short, it rocks. This is my spoiler-free review, which means that those of you who have not seen the show are safe to read this. In fact, I write it for those who are on the fence to let them know what they are getting into.
Daredevil as an origin story
There isn’t a better introduction to the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen than this story. This story is based heavily on the story Man Without Fear, which was a retelling of Daredevil’s origin story by Frank Miller, the father of all dark Hell’s Kitchen epicness. It retells an extremely comic accurate portrayal of Daredevil, from how he got his powers, to his father, to his mentor, even to his college days. I watched the show in a group of friends, most of whom did not know anything about Daredevil. The show was epic for both the knowledgeable and unknowledgeable.
The Cast of Daredevil
As a fan of Daredevil, I was shocked by the quality of the actors involved. Charlie Cox has mastered an American accent and portrayed an incredibly interpreted and yet comically perfected masterpiece of the lead roll of Matthew Murdock. Foggy, Karen, Ben, and even the Owl (Leland Owlsley in the show) were wonderfully cast and portrayed on screen. If I wasn’t attempting to be concise, I would praise them all individually and at length.
Claire Temple, portrayed by Rosario Dawson, was a welcome addition the origin story. Neither of her characters (as her character is actually a fusion of two comic characters) existed in the early days of Daredevil that this story is lending itself to, but she fit well and was wonderfully portrayed.
One of my only quarrels with the show was the portrayal of Kingpin by Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. While the show functions as an origin story to him as well as Daredevil, I was underwhelmed by the portrayal of Kingpin on the screen. His character was drastically changed from the comics and often appeared to weak to be the Kingpin of crime in the city. Part of me felt this was intentional on the part of D’Onofrio, but the payoff was not adequate for the wait.
The Criminal Underworld
Daredevil strikes a wonderful balance of characters in a way that other crime thrillers have not. Many crime epics simply provide a list of characters with notable character flaws to differentiate themselves from each other. In Daredevil, although the circle of criminals may at first appear as simply a group of ethnically diverse criminals, each character shines in his or her own unique light. To this credit, each character’s name seems important in the retrospective mind, not as simply another “boss fight”, but as a character who progressed the story.
Hell’s Kitchen was done well, but not as dark as one might expect. The Hell’s Kitchen in the comics was dark and rarely demonstrated any measure of cleanliness. In Daredevil, Hell’s Kitchen was toned down a little. It was criminal, but not as dark as many expected going in. This is not detrimental to the story, but unexpected.
Also, on a note to the content, while the whole story is the darkest we have seen of the MCU thus far, the violence and blood was not as bad as the viewers expected. We saw a decent amount of blood, a couple bones, and one rather violent death, the worst of it can be avoided by merely turning the head for a couple seconds. There is also not a lot of sex. There is no nudity and very little skin shown. The language is limited almost exclusively to S***, which is used freely by the characters.
Each Episode’s Independence
Each story basically tells a coherent story in itself. This is definitely truer of some episodes than others, but for the most part, one could watch an episode at a time if they really wanted. Although that is possibly, I would recommend that you watch the show in binge form. It basically acts as a 13-hour movie. While even I, who looked forward to this for almost a year, did not sit down at watch it in one sitting, I would say the show is better viewed in a smaller amount of time.
It is worth noting that Charlie Cox as Daredevil is the Superhero that has the most time dedicated to him in the MCU, when counting individual minutes (an argument could be made for Agents of SHIELD, granted). He makes good use of this time. His character is real and gritty, but yet dynamic. I would recommend viewing this dynamicness in fewer sittings rather than more.
The show is awesome. If I had to relate it to something, I would say that its tone strikes that of Batman Begins (although not a copycat, fear not). It provides an excellent portrayal of an awesome character. Also, it is a complete saga in itself. It does not feel incomplete, although we know that the story will continue in the Defenders series in a couple years.
Watch Daredevil. You will not regret it. As to if you take my advice, well… only time will tell.