I have watched eight of the thirteen episodes of Daredevil, the Netflix Original Series featuring characters from Marvel Comics. Despite the fact that I still have more to watch, I have decided to write about my reaction to the show so far. I’m actually a little proud of myself for taking a break to mow the lawn and then to write this before I continue watching. I just had to share my thoughts. I promise to keep this spoiler-free to every degree possible.
I believe this to be some of the best superhero TV or movie entertainment that I have ever watched.
Daredevil is the first of four series based in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City. The other series, in order, will be “Jessica Jones”, “Iron Fist”, and “Luke Cage” with each series running thirteen episodes. Following Luke Cage will be a mini-series in which all four characters team up to form “The Defenders”.
Daredevil stars Charlie Cox as blind attorney Matt Murdock. Matt was blinded as a young man (I’m not really giving anything away here) due to chemical exposure to his eyes. These chemicals took away his sight but enhanced his other senses to a superhuman degree. He is neither super-strong nor invulnerable. While he can hand out a beating, he does not generally take out the bad guys with one punch and often he looks as bad as the other guy come the end of the fight.
The primary bad guy in the show is Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, portrayed brilliantly by Vincent D’Onofrio. D’Onofrio has managed to do something that I never thought would happen … he has turned Fisk into a character for whom you actually feel sympathy. Fisk is a man filled with a vision but also self-doubt. In some ways, you actually want him to succeed. When the people in his operation doubt him, and realize that they are scum bags, you actually want him to unleash some badassery. Watch out when he does though. In many way, Fisk is still a frightened and insecure child with a thin veneer of calm surrounding him. When the child breaks through the fear and rage are overwhelming to him and to anyone around.
What is interesting about the Daredevil/Kingpin conflict is that I actually believe that each thinks they are trying to make Hell’s Kitchen a better place. Fisk is so sincere when he talks to his love interest, art-dealer Vanesssa Marianna, about his plans that I actually believe him. The difference between Fisk and Murdock is not necessarily the goal but the methodology and the way that each sees the city. Fisk views Hell’s Kitchen from behind the scenes. He lives alone in a tower with a vision that involves buildings and property. The people of the city are practically incidental to his goals. He operates through agents that he finds detestable but useful. In many such stories, the love of a good woman makes the villain a better man. I actually suspect that by giving him a stronger self-image, this romance may give Fisk the strength to become even more powerful.
Matt doesn’t look at the big picture … he sees the people. He is at ground level and witnesses the harm that Fisk’s organization poses to the individuals that he cares about. He tends to deal with problems directly in front of him and for this reason he is sometimes manipulated into situations that grow out of control. Fisk acts through intermediaries while Matt gets his hands dirty and bloody. As the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Matt is willing to break a limb or torture information out of someone he deems as evil but killing is a line he is not willing to cross. Fisk finds murder a necessary and acceptable option and even Matt’s mentor, the enigmatic man known as Stick (Scott Glenn), pushes Matt to be willing to cross that line.
I haven’t written about all the other amazing pieces of this series. The rest of the cast is fantastic. I absolutely cannot take my eyes off of Vanessa Marianna anytime she is on screen. She is magnetic. The fight choreography is incredible (the scene in the hall … WOW). Matt is a brawler but his ability to sense everything around him and his acrobatic skills give him an advantage that overcomes his lack of sight. The art design for the title credits of the show gave me the chills. It could not have been done better.
I have five episodes left to go and there is a good chance that I will see them all this weekend. I will then start watching them again. Netflix was invented for binge watching and I’m an American so I want everything now. It is the perfect combination. Now go and please watch this show if for no other reason so that I can have someone to talk to about it.