The first of four collaborations between Marvel Studios and online streaming service Netflix, Marvel’s Daredevil is a fascinating depiction of good versus evil at its core. Marvel’s latest foray in television (or web television in this case) convinces beyond doubt; while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. largely recovered from a sluggish start, and sister series Agent Carter a vast improvement, Daredevil fulfills its potential to the fullest. This transpires partly since this is the first MCU series to delineate an actual superhero, as opposed to newly introduced characters.
Inaugurated in the Silver Age of Comics in 1964 by legendary scribe Stan Lee, the narrative follows Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a man who lost his eyesight to an accident when he was young. However, the mishap grants him heightened senses, which he is able to hone with help from his mentor, Stick (Scott Glenn). A lawyer by profession, Murdock takes it upon himself to fight crime not just in the confines of a court room, but on a pedestrian level, using his elevated faculties.
A cross between Batman and Spider-Man, or more accurately, Batman without the resources, or Spider-Man without the web slinging, Daredevil is best described as a glorified ninja. His intuition and feline like reflexes are shown particularly well in this Netflix exclusive; for instance, he is often seen using his audioception ability to overcome a lack of ophthalmoception sense.
The show pits Daredevil against Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), the nefarious Kingpin of crime. Fisk is firmly in the ascendancy, rising from humble beginnings to orchestrate a crime syndicate tacitly, without exposure or consequence, that is, until the emergence of the titular protagonist. Proving that the head that wears the crown is indeed uneasy, the central conflict sees both men grappling for the soul of the city they love.
One of the greatest strengths of Marvel’s Daredevil lies in its portrayal of good and evil in its purest form. Longtime foes in the comics and faithfully represented on screen, both Murdock and Fisk have distinct visions for New York City: while one wants desperately to eliminate the threat posed by corruption, the other is hell bent on creating a malfeasant monopoly.
Furthermore, Fisk and Murdock make certain choices which craft their characters. Both individuals are defined and connected by the loss of their fathers, though their losses occur in varying circumstances, and the influence the bereavement has on them is the polar opposite. Another captivating subplot finds our hero motivated but ridden with conflict and inner turmoil, constantly at odds with his violent modus operandi. Religion is sporadically shown as his saviour as he struggles to embrace his destiny. A spiritual healing allows him to test his physical and emotional limits.
Being on Netflix means the producers need not comply with the rules of broadcast television. Each episode is brimming with close combats, usually brutal and bloody in nature. The expert direction and execution in all scuffles is worthy of much praise. Grounded in reality and comprised of an ominous tone, the series is never afraid to dabble in mature themes. The excellent writing is also manifested through the intelligent, compelling dialogue.
A thirteen episode saga permits the story to delve deep into the personal journey and transformation of every character, each of which is sublime. The supporting cast consists of Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), a loyal friend and business partner of Matt; Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) a determined damsel who is employed by their firm; and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), a reliable aide of Matt. In a city torn apart by demoralisation, all of the aforementioned characters are vital in his mission to fight this territorial war on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and beyond.
Marvel’s Daredevil is a fascinating depiction of good versus evil at its core.
Synthesised by former Spartacus showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, it also explains and shows the consequences from other Marvel properties, namely the climactic battle scene in The Avengers. Also, a multitude of Easter eggs, a delight for avid fans, are featured on a regular basis teasing past and future events. While DC Comics properties Arrow and Flash are successfully operating in a separate universe, Daredevil is another functional cog in the burgeoning Marvel machinery.
Daredevil shows plenty of promise for Marvel’s future on this new media platform, particularly for forthcoming shows A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all of which will ultimately culminate in a miniseries called The Defenders. If this opening series is anything to go by, those to follow will form a truly enthralling fan experience, much like their filmic brethren in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.