Daredevil on Netflix: An Overview
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There will be no plot spoilers in this pseudo-review!
I'll be honest, I was only expecting to watch one episode of Netflix's new Daredevil series, if that. I've loved many superhero movies and TV shows over the last years, this second coming of the super men, but after a while I just hit superhero saturation. A fatigue of men in tights punching people for Justice, of 'might is right'. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed The Avengers, Arrow and Guardians of the Galaxy, but the endless roster has wearied me.
So it was with some surprise that not only did I watch one episode of Daredevil, I watched four in one sitting and finished the entire first season in a weekend. I've been trying to put my finger on what made it so very watchable. There's a solid cast that play well off each other, for a start. Charlie Cox as lawyer Matt Murdock and 'The Devil of Hell's Kitchen', the embodiment of blind justice, has come a long way since Stardust. Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson have an excellent rapport with each other. Vincent D'Onofrio chews the scenery wonderfully as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. Toby Leonard Moore, Rosario Dawson and Vondie Curtis-Hall give lovely understated performances. But it's not just the cast.
Every episode is, naturally, not without its fighting. It's well-executed, fluid and exciting; an acrobatic visual explosion drawing influences from parkour. But if it was just about the fighting, there are other things you could watch. Overall, the appeal to me may well be so nebulous a concept as heart. The characters are likeable, even when they're not. They seem to like each other and show genuine, believable affection for each other without it coming across as sappy. You want them to succeed, not because their mission is true or it's the right thing or because you want to see what happens next, but because you find yourself liking the characters enough to want them to do well, in spite of the barriers to their success and happiness. Even Fisk the antagonist of the series is rounded and three-dimensional with a believable, sometimes vulnerable, air even when his violent, tyranical nature explodes onto the screen.
Daredevil is an origin story, of how young attorney Matt Murdock goes from street vigilante to becoming Daredevil. Deftly threaded throughout is his own origin story, of how he came to be, of who he was before. But, thankfully, it never feels like an origin story, it isn't over-laboured or dwelt upon. The very occasional flashbacks feel more like they're there to illustrate character, not to anything more heavy-handed than that. This is especially the case during a flashback to Matt and Foggy at college, a wonderfully light illustration of their bond of friendship.
Netflix's binge regime means that sadly there is no more Daredevil to watch. I've consumed the whole thing in two days and now the characters are gone from my life. But creator Drew Goddard, writer of Cabin in the Woods and Cloverfield has created a wonderful show, and re-invigorated a fading interest in Marvel's TV endeavours.