I was given an opportunity, that I shamelessly lorded over my friends, to watch the first five episodes of Netflix’s new series “Marvel’s Daredevil.” I guarantee it will be another hit for Marvel and Netflix who seem to do no wrong. To sum up this review for those who do not like to read in detail, DAREDEVIL IS GLORIOUS. It is unlike any super hero property Marvel or DC has brought to the TV/Film medium. Daredevil does not feel like a hero property; it is dark, gritty, and grounded which is in huge contrast to anything Marvel has produced in the MCU yet it feels right at home. Basically as fun and vibrant as Guardians of the Galaxy is, Daredevil goes in the opposite direction. Daredevil is a crime drama where the hero decides to just be a hero instead of symbolically being one.
Now for details, Daredevil is truly unlike any hero/comic book property available except for maybe Super. It is dark, gritty, and ruthless. It feels much more like The Wire and the violence can get near Sons of Anarchy level cringe worthy. The series makes full use of its ability to use a long form style approach to tell the story, and it pays off. The story takes its time, slowly developing characters and choosing moments to do their reveals, rather than trying to cram it all down your throat like Gotham. Although the story develops at a much slower pace than in movies and broadcast, it is not dragged out or slow. Each episode is a short story that has a part in a larger universe, something Marvel is apparently an expert at doing on any level.
The great pacing and development goes to the writers and the production staff. Everything looks and flows perfectly. Visually the show takes full advantage of its 4K broadcast, but what is probably more impressive is the sound. I strictly recommend watching this with some good speakers or headphones that have good sound separation. The sound perfectly complements Daredevil’s heightened hearing and does a superb job of really capturing sound placement in a three dimensional space. Sound does not just bounce from left to right on the speakers, but up and down. The sound alone will get me to buy the series on Blu-Ray.
The parts are perfectly casted, as per Marvel usual. Charlie Cox delivers a very genuine performance as a man who is really doing everything he can to save his city, despite the costs he must pay physically and mentally. Elden Henson brings the levity to the dark corner of the MCU with his portrayal of Foggy Nelson, but also proves that his character is rich in back story and highly capable in his own right. Deborah Ann Woll brings more and more depth to Karen Page each episode, which she teases from the beginning of her first appearance. Rosario Dawson acts as Daredevil’s only support as Claire Temple, not only patching him up but acting as a moral anchor that is also on the gray. Then there’s Vincent D’Onofrio, who makes one of the biggest bads more human and empathetic than audiences should feel for a villain who can justify the deaths of innocent people.
Lastly, the part that I think really seals the deal, the fight choreography. There have been humans with unbelievable fighting capability since Iron Man 2 and the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Daredevil is in no means a slack when it comes to the art of butt-whoop, but his fighting capability is believable. He does a lot of Parkour infused moves, flip kicks, and some good ol’ beat downs, but unlike say Black Widow or Agent May, he has stamina. Widow and May can take out hordes of people without breaking a sweat, Daredevil gets winded. This is in no way meant to put him down, but to emphasize the grounded nature of the character and the series. There is something oddly satisfying seeing Daredevil flip kick the final blow to an opponent, only to land on the ground and stay there a beat to catch his breath. It makes it seem more natural and genuine, and really pulls away from the almost inhuman stamina that most high ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents seem to have.
Daredevil has all the makings of a classic crime thriller drama, yet features a man who dresses as a ninja at night. It goes five whole episodes without even saying the title character’s name, or how he became such an expert butt-kicker and yet still does not feel dragged out. Television only really appeals to the sense of sight and hearing and Daredevil appeases them fully, making me believe that if smell-o-vision were real it would appease the sense of smell as well. Daredevil is well written, greatly performed, produced masterfully, and will be available to binge watch in its entirety this Friday April 10, 2015 on Netflix.