Comic book fans have never been considered the most patient of demographics. While Netflix and Marvel Entertainment thoughtfully debuted its first 10-episode comic series ‘Daredevil’ as a welcome diversion before the highly anticipated ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ most fans will be clamoring for news of season 2 long before 12 weeks are up. Expecting comic book fans not to binge watch? Inconceivable!
But by the end of the first episode, even the most reserved viewer will find it difficult not to rip through the remaining nine installments. Based on initial impressions, ‘Daredevil’ may just leap ahead of the pack to be not just the best Marvel show on television, but may actually provide some competition to top dogs ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash.’ Time will tell but it’s safe to say it won’t take 12 more weeks to make that conclusion.
Thankfully the first episode doesn’t spend the bulk of the first hour going through a drawn-out origin, instead putting Dardevil (Charlie Cox, ‘The Theory of Everything’) right into action.
As with many comic book action shows in their initial run, the pilot’s weakest aspects are when Daredevil goes into action. That’s partly due to the ver. 1 all-black attire Daredevil is sporting, making it hard to distinguish him from his similarly attired opponents. The red outfit can’t arrive soon enough for comic book fan’s sake, but it’ll prove just as helpful from a visual perspective.
Additionally, the fights are staged too tight so it’s hard to make out more than arms flailing and an occasional kick. Daredevil is more of a nighttime superhero so the lighting is vital in showcasing the action and it was somewhat lacking this first outing. While Daredevil only possess an enhanced “radar” sense, he starts off as little more than a basic brawling vigilante and not the fluid constantly moving dynamo comic fans might expect.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the show fares best when Daredevil is out of costume echoing the tone of Brian Michael Bendis’ acclaimed run as the comic writer.
There’s a welcome ground level connection to the events of ‘The Avengers,’ the game-changing moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s served as a origin point for much of what’s followed MCU’s current top blockbuster. For ‘Daredevil’ that means a lot of shady business developers are trying to purchase property in Hell’s Kitchen that was damaged after the Chitauri invasion.
One such deal brings attorneys Matt Murdock (Cox) and Foggy Nelson (a scene stealing Elden Henson, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’) to the aid of Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who’s been framed for the murder of her co-worker. The show has a creative take on Daredevil’s enhanced senses providing a tighter focus on Murdock’s ear as he determines if people are telling him the truth. Hopefully future episodes will offer other takes on the radar sense, an effect conveyed very well in the underrated 2003 Ben Affleck film. Cox has a strong presence and carries the role well. It’s not hard to envision how he fits in a world with Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk.
The real unexpected treat though is how engaging the non-action scenes are thanks to the terrific chemistry of Cox and Henson. For budget restraints, Daredevil isn’t in action much, but in a rare case for the TV genre, the alter ego scenes are so far much more enjoyable. Once the action hiccups get addressed, this could very well be a major contender. Now on to Episode 2!
Read the Episode 2 recap: Cut Man
Photo credit: Barry Wetcher © 2014 Netflix, Inc.