Apr 25, 2015

Daredevil Season 1 Review

What a whirl wind of a season. Everything Daredevil is doing right is everything Agents of SHIELD is doing wrong. Sure, because the series isn't on ABC, a decidedly family network, it can get away with more gore and swearing, but even if you remove that 'edge-y ness' people have been clamoring for with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you are left with damn good television. Spoilers to follow.

First and foremost, it is so odd to be watching Daredevil with genuine excitement knowing in the back of my head Ben Affleck is going to be the next Batman. If you look at his performance in the Daredevil film you can see why he was an obvious choice, but that is neither here nor there.

I was really excited for this series back when it got announced, but as casting announcements and what not started to come around I tempered my hunger for the Man Without Fear. Charlie Cox, that guy from Stardust? Vincent D'Onofrio, a Law and Order vet? A Mighty Duck is going to play Foggy Nelson?! I was not too happy with all of that. That being said I was happy about one thing: No Elektra. I thought for sure when they cast Rosario Dawson that she would be Elektra, but I was happily surprised.

The first two episodes, save for a pretty awesome fight scene at the end of episode 2, Cut Man, was pretty bland and standard 'set up all the pieces' stuff. I mean sure, Foggy was entertaining as hell and was nailing the moral compass act, Karen was constantly getting into trouble, Matt was doing his own thing, and there was this dude name Wesley being kinda a dick. It was an okay show, but then at the end of the third episode, everything changed. They introduced Kingpin. That was when I was hooked.

D'Onofrio absolutely nails the old school gangster feel, with a commanding presence and a 'don't fuck with me' attitude. At first he was very nebulous and bland, but then he crushed a Russian's head in a car door, and with remaining calm and collected. After all he ruined his date. Throughout the series Kingpin just gets more aggressive as his motivations and goals become more clear. This all culminates in one of the best hours of character development I have ever watched, the eighth episode entitled Shadows in the Glass. The best part about it? Going through his back story doesn't make you sympathize with the villain at all, such as some Batman villains like Mr. Freeze, but understand him. He still remains firmly in villain territory and continues his climb towards absolute domination of Hell's Kitchen. He is without a doubt the best villain Marvel has put into it's Cinematic Universe, and I hope the films can learn from his example.

Then there is Elden Henson, the former Mighty Duck from my childhood. He still looks baby faced, especially next to the grizzled and unshaven Charlie Cox, but he seeps of optimism in a world that is a little too dark. That is exactly the counter balance needed against Matt Murdock's brashness. When he sets off on his own path with Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll, to topple Fisk's empire through legal means, you cannot help but root for him. He really just wants to do good, even though he might say otherwise. The best episode of his is without a doubt in my mind is episode 10, Foggy VS Murdock.

Charlie Cox did plenty well as Matt Murdock, balancing the lawyer and the vigilante very well. The stunt work was incredible too, especially in the later episodes. The fight presented throughout the 9th episode Speak of the Devil was incredibly brutal and palpable, with a great ending setting up remainder of the series. You could really feel Murdock's pain and the conflict presented within him. I was impressed by how well the morality and ethics of what he was doing was played up without beating the Catholicism over our heads, and when it did show up it didn't feel forced.

My only hope going forward is that there is more stuff inside the court room. Matt has always had his foots in both worlds, and now that the Kingpin has been revealed and is a 'known factor' maybe we can get back to Foggy and Matt actually saving the world through law. If anything this show just got me jazzed for more of the Marvel Netflix series, because it shows that they are coming out the door swinging, and with some of their best stories in hand. This freshmen effort is incredibly strong, and I hope their sophomore effort AKA Jessica Jones, follows in its footsteps.