Netflix is still making dreams come true. Following on the success of shows like House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, they’ve finally teamed up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (And yes, it references the films). I’ve always thought Daredevil was an underrated hero. He mostly works in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan so he doesn’t involve himself in some of the planet ending crossover events. He’s never been an Avenger (Despite a brief membership in the second iteration of the New Avengers). He was portrayed by Ben Affleck. It seems like he’s overlooked sometimes. With some of the Daredevil content really thriving in more adult themes under the Marvel Knights line, a Netflix marriage (Where we don’t have to worry about traditional censors) has me super excited.
Add in the fact that Drew Goddard is executive producing and writing and I’m nearing even higher levels of ecstasy. Goddard is somewhat of a lovechild between the All Father Joss Whedon (Avengers) and the Chosen One J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars). He wrote for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s spinoff Angel, Alias and Lost, and co-wrote and directed Whedon’s fantastic horror comedy Cabin In The Woods. He was originally going to be showrunner but had a scheduling conflict with directing the Sinister Six movie and handed the reigns over to Steven S. DeKnight (A fellow Whedonite who worked on Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, and Smallville). I’m excited to see what they come up with so let’s dive in!
It opens on the horrific chemical truck crash. We’re diving right into the origin. A young Matt Murdock pushes an elderly man out of the way but ends up injured and with the strange chemical in his eyes. Flash forward to present day. An adult Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, Stardust, Boardwalk Empire) is in confession and talks about his father, Battlin’ Jack Murdock, a former boxer. He had a losing record but an unmatched ability to take a punch. He had a losing record and thirty-one losses without ever being knocked out. He speaks about his father losing control sometimes in matches in a fearful manner and seeks forgiveness not for what he’s done, but for what he’s about to do. This scene is really well played out. Cox juggles emotions as easily as Daredevil uses his billy clubs and goes from a scared child to a razor focused adult in the matter of a few heartbeats.
“Blind as a bat? Bats are for pussies.”
Cut to a human trafficking ring. An abusive Russian gang is stuffing women into a storage container and torturing them. Daredevil in a homemade costume springs into action, and action it is! Much like the comics it’s based on, the fighting is fast, brutal, and unapologetic. Daredevil doesn’t send bad guys to jail; he sends them to the hospital. This is the kind of hand to hand fighting you rarely see anymore. It doesn’t rely on fast cuts or shaky cams. There’s some really cool action and parkour here that look believable. Then it happens… he ricochets a billy club off a storage container into a guy’s face. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Daredevil as God (Stan Lee) intended. He frees the women and it cuts to some creepy ass opening credits where everything seems to form from blood.
Murdock is awoken by a call from Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson, The Hunger Games:Mockingjay), his close friend and law partner. Foggy Nelson is basically Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) from Iron Man. He’s not quite on par with Cox’s acting ability but I’m not ready to throw him completely under the bus yet. Foggy has a somewhat shady meeting with an old police acquaintance before he and Matt meet with a real estate agent about purchasing their new law office. It’s on sale because it got fucked up in the Chitauri invasion from Avengers! Can I just mention again how great it is that this is MCU? They start to shed some light on the dichotomy between Matt and Foggy in this scene. Matt thinks they should only defend innocent people. Foggy thinks anyone is innocent that hasn’t been convicted of a crime. Matt is an altruistic seeker of justice while Foggy is a bit more of a realist whose main concern is paying their bills.
The next scene is the police kicking the door in on a woman holding a bloody knife over the dead body of her date while screaming her innocence. Turns out Foggy was bribing his police bud to give them a heads up on interesting cases where people need defense lawyers. Her name is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll, True Blood) After listening to her side of the story, Murdock is able to use his hearing to detect her heartbeat and determine she is telling the truth. There’s also an excellent shot utilizing her reflection in his glasses.
We then head to a park where Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) approaches a man who owes some money to a gangster. He is informed that said gangster is now retired and that his books have been bought by Wesley’s boss. The man informs Wesley that he will get his money, so Wesley pulls out an ipad and shows him footage of his daughter studying in a park. Toby Leonard Moore’s portrayal of a dispassionate button man is spot on. He explains that his employer isn’t interested in the small sum he’s owed but that the man’s occupation can be of use to him.
Kind of looks like something from Silent Hill…
Back at the office, Foggy and Murdock discuss something being off with the case and agree to go speak with her again. The only problem is, a guard in the prison is trying to kill her. Karen fights back though. Great scene. Then we sit down with the detectives and Murdock and Foggy again. Matt and Foggy hold all the cards here and know it. The Richard Grieco-like detective threatens to whip Matt’s superior attitude out of him, blind or not. Cox’s reaction to this is perfect. The detectives agree to speak with the district attorney to release Karen, while Murdock explains to Foggy how strange it is that she was never actually convicted of the murder and how the whole thing would have conveniently gone away had she been killed (Especially if they made it look like a suicide).
Back at the office, they explain to Karen the situation she’s in. She doesn’t know who is trying to kill her but does know why. She was the secretary for the chief accountant of a company profiting off the destruction of New York. She asked a guy in the legal department out for a drink and began to tell him about the information then she blacked out and woke up with the bloody knife. More cool cinematography in this scene. I really like the gritty feel they’re giving the show. Woll has acting chops and her and Cox have great chemistry.
For her protection, Matt offers to let her stay at his place for the night. I’m starting to notice little things that Cox is doing to play up the blind thing like touching furniture he passes. Cox worked with a blind consultant on the character and it’s really paying off. He actually takes off his glasses in this scene and you can really tell he’s put a lot of work in. Matt and Karen share a moment where she asks about him losing his sight and it’s almost like the removal of the glasses is him lowering his guard. The glasses come back on though, and Matt starts to give her his theory about what’s going on. He uses his hearing to detect her lying about having a copy of the file implicating them though.
Then we move on to a meeting of several crime bosses. They represent Russia, China, Japan, and America. The only one I recognized was Bob Gunton who plays Leland Owlsley (AKA Daredevil and Spider-Man villain The Owl). Enter Wesley. The Chechnyans tell them about the “Man in black” attacking the human trafficking ring. The Chechnyans complain about the sloppy handling of the Union Allied situation (The Karen Page plot). Meanwhile, Karen sneaks out of Matt’s apartment and goes home to retrieve the Union Allied file. There’s a killer waiting, natch. Since Karen leaving has freed Matt up Daredevil comes to the rescue, natch.
“Won’t pick me up, eh?”
This time it’s a knife fight. Again, wide shots of longer takes that show fantastic choreography. I’m not an expert but I can see a few different fighting styles showcased like in the last fight. Top it off with some nifty hopping around to give it that superhero feel before they fall through the window and bounce off the scaffolding to the rain covered ground below. We’re knocked into a memory of a rainy day after a young Matt has lost his sight. His dad comes home after a seemingly brutal boxing match and encourages Matt to study so that he gets a good education and a better life. Now they continue the fight in the rain, which automatically looks cool by default. They start to play around with showcasing how Daredevil’s superior senses aid him in combat here. I don’t even want to ruin how this fight ends. It’s one of the best finishes I’ve ever seen. Daredevil leaves the assassin and the evidence in a public place.
Cut to Wesley in a limousine. He explains the situation to who turns out to finally be Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin (Vincent D’onofrio, Full Metal Jacket). You don’t ever actually see him but he alters his voice very slightly in a manner very befitting the Kingpin. Wesley tells him everything is being taken care of. Then we wrap up with Karen thanking Foggy and Matt and offering to work for their firm. The episode ends with Matt walking into an old boxing gym. He seems to pay to come in and train at night when no one is there. Then we see Owlsley evilly closing all the Union Allied accounts. Then we see the man from the park’s daughter come home to discover her father has, “Committed suicide”. It also turns out he was the prison guard they hired to kill Karen!
They assassin has also, “Committed suicide” by hanging himself in his cell. Then we see the Chinese drug gang who has blinded all of their workers so no one can testify. The Japanese crime boss sternly looks over building plans in Hell’s Kitchen. The thugs Daredevil beats up at the beginning of the episode are revealed to have been bailed out. The Chechnyans beat a guy up and kidnap his son. All of this is intercut with footage of Murdock beating the ever loving shit out of a punching bag. Things are bad in Hell’s Kitchen, but a watchful (So to speak) protector is on the rooftops using his super hearing to listen in to the city (Kind of like that really cool random scene in Superman Returns). Credits.
Overall opinion, the show is off to a great start. The humor between Murdock and Foggy is a bit strained at times but could come into it’s own. Most of the acting is on point, the cinematography is really neat, and the action is fucking sick. I’m going to be using all five senses to enjoy this show. I will use my sight to absorb the engaging visuals. I will use my hearing to take in the (Mostly) great performances of the actors. What am I using my sense of touch for? To touch myself. Sense of smell? Scented candles… for the touching. And last, I will use my sense of taste to savor sweet victory because Marvel and Netflix have pulled it off. B+
T-Bagz actually enjoyed the film Daredevil