Spoilers : (I Liked It)
Traditionally anything I look forward to or get excited about usually falls apart in spectacular fashion, so you can understand the fear I felt building up to April 10th when Netflix would release all 13 episodes of their adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil. Again and again I told myself not to get excited and that it was going to be awful and that I’d hate it, all in an attempt to persuade fate to actually let this show turn out ok. Well it must have worked because Daredevil is simply fantastic. It’s a testament to what can be achieved when a show isn’t bound by needing to meet a designated audience like most channel TV shows. I found Agents of SHIELD rather disappointing, it clung to too many American TV cliches with it’s roster of attractive young people and their predictable personalities. Not to mention the writing was at times atrocious, it was clearly designed to be a Marvel TV show aimed at children and teens, which is where Daredevil really stands out. Adhering to a darker tone, Daredevil is a more mature take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I really liked that it exists in the same universe as the films but that those events only serve as a backdrop to a standalone story. The events of Avengers and indeed the Avengers themselves are referred to occasionally (and sensibly) and thanks to the exceptional writing of Daredevil it never detracts from the story or feels out of place.
Whilst Daredevil features violence and some gore it’s always appropriate, the shows producers said that Daredevil is a street level superhero who beats criminals with his fists and that they wanted to reflect the toll that takes on both Matt Murdock and criminals faces. And quite the toll it takes too, Matt Murdock spends most of the season suffering from injuries sustained on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. Heavily inspired by Frank Miller’s ‘The Man Without Fear’ origin story, Daredevil’s costume is plain black with minimal protection and no horns. This allows the show to gradually introduce Matt’s past and the people in his life, thankfully the flashbacks are spread out over the episodes to reveal little bits at a time and keep it interesting. One of Daredevil’s greatest strengths is that it doesn’t get hung up on being a superhero show, the focus is on the characters and the story rather than Daredevils antics. Almost every character feels worthwhile and properly developed with villain Wilson Fisk being a particular standout. Charlie Cox makes for a great Matt Murdock, he’s likable, angry, vulnerable and lighthearted at all the right moments, whilst there are a lot of dark moments in this season it’s well balanced by the characters and the writing to prevent it from becoming a gloom-fest.
But the real surprise for me was how much I liked Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of the Kingpin. I was expecting him to be a typical crime boss who’s bad just because he’s a villain and that’s what he does, but more often than not I was rooting for him. Wilson Fisk receives just as much character development as Matt Murdock, we learn about his past and what drives him and there are some scenes where I just wanted to give him a hug which is something I was not expecting to feel at all. Which is what I think makes Daredevil that bit more special, for the first few episodes I was riding on a high thanking the heavens that the show wasn’t awful but then it got good, like, really good. The middle chunk of Daredevil made for addictive viewing, unfortunately the last few episodes wavered in their pacing but didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the series overall. I’m deeply saddened that I don’t have more to watch and if and when they announce season 2 I will be counting the days. That’s not to say there aren’t some things I would like to see improved upon, first and foremost more lighting would be nice, Daredevil fights in a black outfit in the dark a lot of the time and whilst the fighting is well choreographed and satisfyingly brutal, it would be nice if I didn’t have to turn up the brightness on my TV to see it. Also whilst the season comes to a satisfying conclusion there is a rather cringe inducing scene where the name ‘Daredevil’ is introduced, I would have preferred that the name originated more naturally rather than springing to mind purely because Murdock jumps off stuff. Lastly it would be nice if Daredevils abilities weren’t quite so magical, whilst superpowers require some suspension of belief there were times when Matt Murdock’s gifts border on the ridiculous, at one point he accurately picks up a phone off the floor he couldn’t possibly know was there and at another he can taste the copper in the air from the blood in someone’s wound. Yes he is gifted and well trained but he is also still blind, but thankfully these moments don’t damage the overall strength of the show. The production, scripting and great characters make this one of my favourites of 2015 already, though I was surprised by a couple of deaths and I really hope that there are some good characters coming in season 2 because it seems such a waste to bump off two of the most interesting characters.
Overall I really enjoyed Daredevil, almost every aspect is superb and there are some great fight scenes (something I find lacking in TV shows normally), there’s one standout brawl in particular but I shan’t spoil it for you. I was so happy that it didn’t turn out to be another Agents of SHIELD (I will be checking out Agent Carter as and when it reaches the UK) and whilst Daredevil forms part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it stands very strong on its own with Kingpin quite possibly being the best Marvel villain so far. I would definitely recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in Marvel and I have high hopes for the other Marvel/Netflix collaborations (though Daredevil has always been a personal favourite). Hopefully the freedom that Netflix can offer will open the door for many more shows to be produced as they were intended without having to suffer due to being tailored for a specific audience.