Without hesitation, ‘Daredevil’ was an unqualified success at showing a previously unrevealed darker, street level look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The highest compliment for a Marvel TV character is seeing how easily they’d fit into the movie universe and hopefully Charlie Cox will be suiting up as Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the immediate movie future.
Thankfully Netflix has ended all speculation by announcing a second season is set for 2016 and that’s a great thing as we definitely need more of this outstanding take on Marvel’s Man Without Fear.
The casting was across the board excellent without a weak link. You expected Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio to deliver (and they did in spades) but what really helped make the series work was the quality supporting performances from Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ayelet Zurer and my personal favorite, Bob Gunton, who provided some much-need comic relief as the self-absorbed Leland Owsley. Woll’s Karen Page was the hardest to like as she seemed oblivious to the danger she was dragging everyone into, but I appreciated her not being the cliché romantic interest.
A strong script helped (for the most part) establish a lived in post-Avengers world where the little people are constantly being stepped on and abused by those with power and money with Daredevil rising to stop a problem below the radar of the other Marvel heroes. Thankfully there was a lack of idiotic out-of-character decisions to help move a subplot along and the surprising deaths helped establish that no character was safe.
The direction on the action scenes was smoothly done, which is always difficult when the characters are wearing all-black. The violence wasn’t overboard, but just enough to convey Daredevil doesn’t have the benefit of an armored suit, super serum or spy training and fights had consequences for him.
Most folks will tout Ep. 7 featuring the appearance of Stick as the season standout, but Ep. 10 ‘Nelson vs. Murdock’ was a well-earned heartfelt episode that dealt with personal relationship and the downfall of a secret identity.
I would have liked to have seen more obvious Easter Eggs like Urich’s press clippings of the Hulk brawl with the Abomination from ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and the Avengers’ battle against Loki and The Chitauri. And while it’s probably asking for too much, a run-in with other street level characters (Matt getting info on Madam Gao’s drug house from a not yet powered Cloak & Dagger for example) could have been fun. Also next season: Punisher. This is not a request.
It was odd that in every episode, the script had to allow for some cursing from Karen, which was weird as the language wasn’t worse than most network TV shows for most of the shows beyond Karen’s random language. Having seen ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ now I won’t be able to not hear that every time I hear her cuss in repeated viewing especially since few of the other characters cussed much at all.
With so much good there really wasn’t a lot to improve upon save a few almost nitpicky points.
The most annoying once you notice it is how nearly every interior was dark with a sickly yellow light from a window. I’m pretty sure everyone’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment doesn’t overlook yellow light-up billboards. The dominant yellow light made me think too often of a ‘Sin City’ scene minus the CGI backgrounds.
It didn’t make a lot of sense for Matt to continue going out without some protection besides his Under Armour black workout suit. Early episodes could have shown Matt experimenting with armor plating like his comic book armor attire before ditching it for the more lightweight and just as durable suit Potter whipped up for him.
Most of the Marvel heroes get some sort of costume upgrade for their second appearance so the next take on the outfit will be pivotal for Season 2.
Matt was a bit too brooding and dark to the point that it seemed like everyone who encountered Daredevil (specifically Karen) would know he was Matt Murdock and there wasn’t enough distinction between the two. Even in the Christopher Nolan films, Bruce Wayne was a showy, charismatic figure making his switch to the gravely-voiced Batman more than just Bruce Wayne wearing a mask.
With his initial baptism of fire over and Fisk in custody, hopefully Matt will lighten up a bit so Daredevil can be the perfect hybrid of Spider-Man and Batman without leaning too much to the gritty persona that dominated this season.
Again, those are very minor gripes. Daredevil is the Marvel TV equivalent to the first ‘Iron Man,’ an eye-opening fully binge-worthy experience that makes it predecessors look weak by comparison. The series is getting a new showrunner who has a very solid foundation to work with, several plot threads to pick up and hopefully more characters from the comic book. Stilt Man we’re looking at you.