Let’s all take a deep breath together, Marvel fans, because after seeing the first five episodes of Netflix’s Daredevil, I can tell you that it’s all we could have hoped for. It is dark, the fight sequences are riveting, it hits the ground running, and thrives on the binge watching format of Netflix. It’s great. I’m hooked. And once I was done with the initial five, I was instantly craving more. My review of the first episode will go up the day of the premiere (and then reviews for later episodes will follow suit), but until then, here are five reasons you should all be excited.
Charlie Cox is a relative unknown to American audiences, playing bit roles in The Theory of Everything, Boardwalk Empire, and starring in the appallingly underrated in Stardust; he’s never really had a “breakout role.” However, playing Matt Murdoch will hopefully put him in general audiences’ eyes. He truly shines on the show, whether he’s playing the part of the violent vigilante or the charming lawyer. Marvel has a knack for picking great actors to play their characters, and Cox continues in that trend.
In all honesty, the fight sequences may be my favorite parts of the show, which isn’t to discredit the storytelling, they’re just that good. There is one early on in the series that sets the bar incredibly high for the remaining season. It’s tough, in your face, and every punch looks like it hurts. Daredevil isn’t Thor or Captain America, and he doesn’t have a steel tin to arm himself in. As he says to Rosario Dawson’s character in episode two, his costume is a “work in progress,” and so is vigilantism. He gets the shit kicked out of him constantly, but he never backs down, and he powers on. His dad was a boxer, and it shows in the way he fights and how he’s quick on his feet. His key attribute or skill in fighting is endurance. The fight scenes are furthering the medium, particularly on television. And watch out movie buffs because one fight scene in particular may have you thinking of the cult classic Oldboy.
All of the supporting characters are, for the most part, strong and fit into the ensemble well. None so much though as Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk a.k.a. Kingpin. Both bring a star quality to the show with them. Dawson brings an effortless warmth, and her scenes with Charlie Cox are some of the finest the show has to offer. Onofrio is on the other end of the spectrum as a villain, who we can’t quite nail down. He’s up to no good, that’s for sure, and his talks of building Hell’s Kitchen from the ground up make for an interesting dynamic between his goals and Murdoch’s.
Marvel has definitely embraced the darker content of the Daredevil series with apparent glee. The Daredevil of this series uses torture to gain information, Kingpin is psychotic, and the world they’re living in is one where dangers are always looming. This isn’t as colorful as The Avengers, and it doesn’t have the Joss Whedon quips that populate the pages of his script. None of this is a hindrance to the show, and as someone who could never quite catch on to Agents of SHIELD, it’s nice to see Marvel succeed in the tone of this series. It’s unquestionably a part of the Marvel universe; it talks about how their current situation is in part due to the consequences of the battle in New York with the Avengers, but it’s its own entity. Importantly to this viewer, while it’s always taking its subject matter seriously and respecting the stories like any good showrunner should, it also doesn’t reek of self-importance. It’s having fun, while being simultaneously thrilling and edgy.
From The Wire to Asian cinema, Daredevil wears its influences on its sleeves. The scope of the world is unyielding, and by the end of the first episode, we already feel like we’ve been in this world for much longer. Drew Goddard has created a world that’s imposing, and it’s shot with the type of care to detail, which allows a viewer to slip into the episode only to be disappointed once it’s over. It’s a smart show, it’s a cinematic one, and April 10th can’t come soon enough.