After last weeks review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, I closed by remarking that it would not hold a place on my shelf like, among other things, the Netflix series Daredevil. Daredevil is far different from any superhero genre story that the silver screen has ever had (at least as far as my experience goes), and in the following paragraphs I will try and do it justice.
The characters in the show Daredevil are what drive the series and make it great. Matt Murdoch is the main protagonist, and whenever he is not fighting corruption through the legal system as a lawyer, he is traveling the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen by moonlight. Matt’s character is interesting to watch as the show progresses -revealing his backstory, as well as the struggles he has within himself. Matt is portrayed as a Roman Catholic in the show, and his conversations with his priest are interesting, never corny, and portrayed in a serious manner. Foggy Nelson is Matt Murdoch’s friend, college roommate, and law partner. Both men have a strong bond, and want to see justice prevail -especially in the case of the poor and unfortunate. Karen Page, after being helped out of trouble by Matt and Foggy, becomes their secretary and plays a pivotal role in what is happening in Hell’s Kitchen. These three characters’ lives and actions interrelate and provide an incredible and meaningful story as the show progresses. All of these characters, along with many others (including Wilson Fisk), are well developed by the show, and no one comes across as shallow or weak. In fact, after watching the entire first season, I didn’t find myself hating one character and loving others, but was simply left with a desire to see how the different players’ lives continued to unfold -how the good guys get past their differences to help those in need, and how the villains change their tactics and grow as well. From the perspective of well developed, relate-able, and empathetic characters, Daredevil is a true masterpiece.
Unlike most Marvel superhero productions, Daredevil is completely lacking when it comes to insane stunts, massive explosions, bigger than life villains, and lots of cool technology. Instead, the show gives a dirty street level view of Hell’s Kitchen. While the character Daredevil is technically a superhero, I would prefer to use the word “vigilante,” because while all superheroes are vigilantes, not all vigilantes are superheroes. The reason I would make this distinction is primarily because the show does not make a big deal about his powers, and does not play them up as “super”. Rather, they are portrayed as heightened senses than enable him to deal with his lack of sight. Rather than being a negative, I think this lends the show a sense of realism that the other Marvel productions have never had. In fact, the only other superhero film I’ve seen get close to this level of realism was the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. However, this realism does mean that the show is very dark and violent. The series is rated TV “MA” (mature), and with good reason. Fighting in the show tends to be extremely brutal, and torture, blood, broken bones sticking out of limbs, and other mangling are presented fully without censure. Once again however, this adds to the “grittiness” and realism of the show: Daredevil doesn’t take out enemies in a blaze of glory, but rather manages to take a beating and remain standing longer than his opponents -much like a real fight would be like.
Should You Watch?
If you are tired of the largely eye-candy superhero movies that have been coming out lately, or just want a new take on the genre, Daredevil can be a good choice. At the same time, if you prefer not to view graphically violent TV shows/films, this is probably not something that you should watch. However, with excellent character development, and an engaging story-line, the show offers plenty of punch and will leave you wanting more…something that is refreshing in a genre that has begun pumping out many movies every year.