Into The Ring
Rabbit In a Snowstorm
In The Blood
World on Fire
Shadows in the Glass
Speak of the Devil
Nelson V. Murdock
The Path of the Righteous
The Ones We Leave Behind
Gritty, realistic and brutal, Daredevil is Marvel’s first street-level superhero and the overwhelming feeling of a fish out of water works perfectly with the character. Boasting impressive cinematography, fleshed out characters and an intriguing plot, Netflix manage to reinvent Daredevil with a new vision after the lacklustre film of the same name.
Set in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, the story follows Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) – a lawyer who’s blindness causes is other senses to have superhuman skills. Working as a vigilante by night taking out low-level gang members, during the day Murdoch struggles to keep up his lawyer persona. Seeing the aftermath of fights with angry, purple bruises over Murdock’s face or seeing him wince and pant in the morning are some of the best displays of gritty realism in a superhero show in a long time. We really get a sense that this is just a man with heightened senses rather than a superhuman god and Daredevil is all the more better for it.
The main villain is the crime boss Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Notorious for his lust of power, equal screen time is given to both Fisk and Murdock to understand their motives and given enough time to grow as individuals. Daredevil smartly shows both sides of the fight, including the history of both characters. With emphasis on the delicate hierarchy of crime bosses, Fisk feels like a man under just as much pressure as Murdock, just on different sides of the same coin and because of this, the show feels more realistic and fleshed out.
I mentioned earlier about the cinematography and its here that Daredevil is in a league of its own. Unlike the saturated, bright colours of other superhero shows, Daredevil steers the opposite way with a muted colour palette. The pale yellows by night contrast beautifully with the dull, blue-greys by day and this use of colour is cleverly used throughout. The camera work is good too; with one particular hallway scene, there’s one of the best uses of a camera I’ve seen in a long time. With one continuous shot and no music bar a few quiet string sections, the camera pans down a hallway while Murdock fights in adjacent rooms off camera that eventually spill into the hallway. The thugs he fights are not easily dispatched and as the fight continues and the body count racks up, you really get a feel for the struggle he undertakes. These aren’t just disposable minions, they’re tough gang members and this realistic vision really helps elevate Daredevil to another level. Its almost exhausting as the action unfolds but never in a way that makes it a detriment to the show.
Daredevil stays true to the source material too, with a well thought out plot and one excellent casting choice in Wilson Fisk. The juxtaposition between ruthless crime boss and softly spoken, warm-hearted man is really well scripted and as mentioned before, this human approach to the characters helps Daredevil stand out as a defiantly different superhero show. After the lacklustre film, its refreshing to see such a well constructed show do the character justice.
Of course, its not perfect and for all its positives there are a few negatives. The dialogue feels a little strained at times and the comedic exchanges between Foggy, Karen and Murdock don’t always hit. The story, for all its positives, does become a little repetitive with multiple examples of Murdock injured after a big fight, taking some time off to recover, before jumping back into the crime fighting again, rinse and repeat. It’s not a deal breaker but it is noticeable.
Overall, Daredevil is a refreshingly realistic depiction of the blind vigilante. Wilson Fisk is a capable enemy and the plot, whilst a little slow moving at times, has a satisfying ending. Even if it does leave it open somewhat for Season 2, the cinematography is excellent throughout. Its not perfect, and of course it does suffer from a lull in its pacing and some lacklustre dialogue but mainly, Daredevil is a great effort from Netflix who finally do the character justice with an excellent season of entertainment.