Monday, 13 April 2015

Daredevil

Alright, I’m going to get it out of the way right now… “Daredevil” is better than most of the Marvel movies. I love those, but right now the list goes “Avengers”, “Winter Soldier”, “Iron Man” and then “Daredevil”. And guess what, it also has the best villain.

“Daredevil” stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and is a Netflix series created by Drew Goddard. It’s set in Hell’s Kitchen, corner of New York that suffered heavily from the Chitauri attack as seen in “The Avengers”. It follows Daredevil’s fight against business man Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, played by the brilliant Vincent D’Onofrio. At the same time, Daredevil’s alter ego Matt Murdock is trying to build up a legal practice together with his friend Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson.

There are only three points of criticism that can be brought up against the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Weak villains, inconsequential character deaths and the same climax to every movie. “Daredevil” crushes all three of those.
The Kingpin is well-known to comic book fans as the nemesis of Daredevil. A lot of the Marvel movies so far went for the bigger and badder version of the hero for the villain. Daredevil and Wilson Fisk are very different. Daredevil is basically a ninja, while the Kingpin is a Juggernaut. Matt Murdock is a small-time lawyer, while Wilson Fisk has a gigantic business and little regard for the law. What connects them, what creates the tension between them is that they essentially want the same thing, to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place. And here, “Daredevil” does something amazing and actually treats Fisk almost like a second protagonist. Fisk sacrifices just as much as Murdock does, feels just as much pain and has his own enemies and obstacles to conquer.

The second point… let’s be honest, when we are watching a Marvel movie these days, we don’t really believe at any point that our heroes are not going to be triumphant in the end. Sure, there might be setbacks, but in the end, everyone will be okay, even if it takes a TV series to resurrect a beloved character. I don’t want to talk about character deaths in “Daredevil” because I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t seen it, but let me assure you, Daredevil is far from invincible. He spends as much time stitching himself up as he does fighting. He is vulnerable because he has friends who also fight against Fisk, without the protection of a mask. And, unlike all the other inhabitants of the Marvel universe, he actually has a secret identity and struggles with that too.

Finally, there’s no giant flying thing crashing into New York in the final episode… probably just because it’s already been done. The action in this series is of a smaller scale, but it is exceptionally well-shot, better than a lot of movies these days. Rarely do television series actually manage to completely grip the audience just by the way a scene is shot, but “Daredevil” does. This, together with the fact that one episode of “Daredevil” probably sees more blood flowing than all of the movies combined (slight exaggeration) makes the action so insanely gripping.


Now, this is just supposed to be a short review, so I’m not going to go into how good Charlie Cox is, how well he plays off of the other actors, how the whole series is basically structured like a game of chess with a few more factions thrown in or how much I want Daredevil to appear in Civil War. What it all comes down to in the end is that “Daredevil” is not only very good, it is one of the most engaging series I’ve had the pleasure to see. I don’t know if it’s quite on the level of “Game of Thrones”, “Breaking Bad” or “House of Cards”, but one thing is for certain. The first season of “Daredevil” makes the first season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” look like a school project, and I actually enjoyed that.