All of the live-action properties produced by Marvel Studios take place within a shared universe and Daredevil is no exception. As with all Netflix original shows, all thirteen episodes were released at once. So when I got home from work Friday afternoon, I immediately began binge-watching, and I watched the final episode on Saturday.
This show is really freaking excellent. It’s much darker than the Marvel stuff we’ve seen up to now, due to the freedom offered by Netflix. And it’s something that really suits the character of Daredevil, who came to prominence during Frank Miller’s seminal run on the title that injected a heavy dose of crime noir into the character.
Charlie Cox is wonderful as Matt Murdock and there’s really no one better to play this part. Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin may not have the physical presence that Michael Clarke Duncan had in the Daredevil film, but he more than makes up for that with a spectacular performance that brings a lot of nuance to the character of Wilson Fisk. There’s great work from the cast on pretty much every front, but I have to give a special shout-out to Scott Glenn’s portrayal of Matt’s blind mentor, Stick. The episode when he appears is one of my favorites, not only because of Glenn’s excellent performance, but also because it introduces the Hand.
As I mentioned before, Daredevil is the darkest thing Marvel Studios has done so far. But Marvel is doing something smart because they aren’t taking a one-tone-fits-all approach with their properties (as opposed to the approach adopted by a certain Distinguished Competition with their films). Just like the comics, these movies and shows are adopting an appropriate tone for each character. With Captain America, they give us political intrigue. Iron Man is techno-thriller, Thor is more fantasy, Guardians of the Galaxy is fun space opera, and Daredevil is a gritty crime drama. Marvel could have easily said, “well quippy, upbeat heroes are what have worked for us, so we’re going to do the same thing to Daredevil.” But they didn’t. Instead, they said, “we’re doing Frank Miller’s Daredevil and we’re going to remain true to that.”
And it’s wonderful. It also illustrates something that my good buddy Derrick Ferguson has said many times—not every superhero needs a summer blockbuster movie. And he’s absolutely right. Characters like Daredevil work so much better in a serialized format, because it gives more time for long-running stories and plotlines to play out. That was one of the biggest problems with the Daredevil film—it basically tried to cram a television season’s worth of storytelling into two hours (or an hour and a half if you’ve only seen the vastly inferior theatrical cut). Now, if the Daredevil series does the classic Elektra/Bullseye story (which, come on, of course they’ll do it), they can have it play out over the course of an entire season and give it the room it needs to properly breathe.
I’ve been looking forward to these Marvel/Netflix shows ever since they were first announced. But now after I’ve seen Daredevil, I’m even more excited for the remaining three—AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. And then they’ll all come together in The Defenders.
But even more exciting than that is another season of Daredevil. Let’s hope it comes sooner rather than later.
If you like superheroes, you might also consider giving my prose superhero serial, Vanguard, a try. Check out the first episode and see if it’s your thing.