Every time you think, “Marvel may have all the versatility in the world, but is common throughout everything they do”, they’re going to prove you wrong.
Blind lawyer Matt Murdock is gifted with heightened senses. When he loses faith in the judicial system, he decides to take matters in his own hands and uses his martial arts prowess and superhuman senses to fight crime as… an unnamed vigilante.
Daredevil takes the form of an origin story for both Daredevil and his arch-nemesis, the Kingpin of crime. Matt may already be living the vigilante life, and Wilson Fisk may already be ruling the underworld, but they are still trying to figure out what it is they’re trying to achieve, how they want to go about it, and what they want their place to be in Hell’s Kitchen. (That’s the name of the neighborhood in New York that they live in.)
The series takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we clearly see the effect the events of The Avengers have had on New York. That forms a starting point for the plot. But you also need to remember that this is a completely new part of the world that none of the other material has tackled yet. This is about regular people living regular lives. And the crime is the sort that makes these lives more difficult. Like corruption. Drugs. Crime you can get away with. Unlike the movies, where the criminals aren’t even trying to pretend they’re not criminals. It’s the kind of life that makes it believable to us that a man who has dedicated years to perfecting his talents as a lawyer would lose faith in what he’s doing.
But with what Matt and Fisk do come moral dilemmas. They question whether they should be doing it at all. They question their methods. It can’t be easy to choose whether or not to take drastic action if you can’t see another way that would work, but can’t allow yourself to go that far. And it gets even worse when the third factor comes into play: your own wants. If you are uncomfortable with doing what you deem beneficial to your cause, it can cause problems. If you start enjoying the necessary evil parts of your job, that is a problem too. And we see all of that play out in this series.
Production quality-wise, superhero series like Arrow and Agent Carter are never mentioned in the same league as others like True Detective and Sherlock. Daredevil, I believe, transcends its peers in that regard. The actors deliver convincing performances, and I believe a shout-out is in order for Vondie Curtis-Hall’s portrayal of Ben Urich, an investigative reporter who has decades of experience, but his exhaustion makes him uncertain what to do with it. The score is great, too, with an especially creepy and haunting opening track. But the part that really stands out here is the action. The action is generally well-choreographed, as it really looks like the stunt doubles know their stuff, but there’s more to it than that. The choices made in terms of how to depict the scenes are downright brilliant, leading to some of the greatest fight sequences in TV history. The way it shows how Matt uses his senses to his benefit, the way it makes us feel how tired he is, the choice of when to cut the shot, or not to, and the sheer number of times Matt gets hit all contribute to scenes which go beyond fun, and actually contribute to storytelling through character development.
One thing I realized on watching this series is that Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t going to stay the best superhero TV Series forever. One thing I realized on reviewing it is that I cannot sufficiently express my love for it while restricted by the ‘spoiler-free’ tag. Expect a ‘thoughts on Daredevil’ post soon. Or whatever soon means for this website. Meanwhile, up next is my rundown of thoughts on, hopes for and expectations for the Eisner Awards 2015. Stay tuned.
I recommend: If you liked The Dark Knight Trilogy (that was a joke, I know you did), you’re going to love this. The grit, the realism the depth and the desperation are all reminiscent of Bruce Wayne’s own struggles.