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D.A. lives on Skullcrusher Mountain with his super-hero (for now) girlfriend and ever-growing army of feline followers. They will take over the world as soon as catnip and LED lights bore them so the world is safe...for now. He digs comics, television and video games. All three. At the same time. He also loves to write and is working on his first novel! Find him on Twitter: @DABlankenship1

Netflix is the Devil’s Playground – A Look at “Daredevil”

daredevil

Picture Credit: Marvel Studios/Netflix

Comic-book fans have waited since late last year for the reboot for Daredevil, the blind lawyer-turned-vigilante from 2003’s film of the same name starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Colin Farrell. The leads received praise for their performances but the film itself was weak on plot and character development. The director’s cut added a solid subplot involving Coolio, but did little to revise initial opinions of the film. Garner’s performance netted her a spin-off film in 2005’s Elektra, which fared poorly among audiences. When the rights for Daredevil reverted to Marvel Studios in 2013, fans hoped that the character would be revisited or rebooted and introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel’s Daredevil released on Netflix this past Friday to critical acclaim. Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock/Daredevil. He is joined by Eldon Henson as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, and Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk; Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Gideon Emery play supporting roles.

The tone of the series is darker than any of the properties in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Daredevil is their first true “street level” hero. The Avengers battle aliens and genocidal robots bent on world domination. Daredevil is focused on keeping his neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, safe from those who would tear it apart. The themes of corruption and fear are ever-present as Daredevil fights against not only against corruption threatening to ruin his neighborhood, but the fear of others who don’t want to get involved. His battle is also internal: An officer of the court by day, he breaks the law each night as he tries clean up the neighborhood that took not just his sight, but his father as well.

Over the course of the series, we learn how Matt Murdock got his powers without explaining the science or a sonar-sense. He gets chemicals in his eyes after saving an old man from death. Matt is already a vigilante and dealing with the emotional toll of his dual life. Cox voices Matt’s internal struggle when he explains his inner rage to his priest and asks forgiveness on what he’s planning to do. Cox made me buy into his portrayal of Matt Murdock in this single scene.

Matt and his partner, Foggy Nelson, get a tip about a woman arrested for murder and we meet Karen Page. Henson’s comedic timing gives Foggy a lightness that even brightens his stoic partner by association. Deborah Ann Woll nails Karen’s fear and distrust, even as she struggles to get someone to believe her story. Karen was found next to the dead body of her coworker with the murder weapon in hand. She tells the lawyers she noticed something wrong with the accounting at Union Allied Construction. Matt and Foggy take the case, quickly learning that there’s more to the story, especially when two attempts are made on Karen’s life, one of which Matt saves her from in costume. Karen is exonerated and comes to work for Nelson and Murdock.

The man behind the Union Allied Construction and the one who wants Karen out of the picture is Wilson Fisk, a socially awkward man introduced during his attempt to woo a local art dealer, Vanessa Marianna. Vincent D’Onofrio’s casting as Fisk is inspired. Past portrayals of the Kingpin have shown him at the height of his power and always in control. He rarely makes mistakes or acts emotionally. D’Onofrio plays against those previous portrayals by making Fisk prone to bouts of uncontrolled rage and private turmoil. He believes that he must destroy Hell’s Kitchen to save it. He relies on Wesley for advice to impress Vanessa. Fisk later brutally murders Anatoly Ranskahov for the crime of embarrassing him in front of Vanessa at dinner. His cunning shines through moments later when he frames “The Man in the Mask” for the deed, leading to war in Hell’s Kitchen that forces Matt to consider violating his code of honor to defeat his enemy.

It’s rare to find a show where each actor on the canvas has chemistry with the others, but Daredevil is that show. The friendship between Matt and Foggy, as well as Fisk and Wesley, is palpable. Matt and Fisk each have a right–hand man who keeps them focused on the big picture, because both men have major anger issues. This show also followed a different path in giving the love story to the antagonist, rather than the hero. There are elements of romantic tension between Karen and Foggy, Karen and Matt, and even Matt and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), but the real love story belongs to Fisk and Vanessa. He finds in her someone that knows his true nature and doesn’t shy from it, while she finds someone who brings out her darker side.

kingpin-daredevil

Picture Credit: Marvel Studios/Netflix

The conflict between Daredevil and Fisk is the foundation of the series, and both Cox and D’Onofrio build a solid foundation with their individual performances.The show-runners made a wise decision to parallel Daredevil’s journey with Fisk’s own, showcasing the fallout of their cat-and-mouse game as it ensnares their allies and lovers. Both men use fear and intimidation as their primary tools, while extolling themselves as the man that Hell’s Kitchen needs to survive. Both men refuse to the other one win.  The pair has just three interactions over thirteen episodes, but those three interactions are the most intense in the series. The first interaction is done completely over a walkie-talkie but the intensity makes it seem like they’re in the same room. The “less is more” strategy benefited the series overall.

The cinematic quality of the show also lends to its success. The use of shadows and low–light gives the feel of danger around every corner, as well as highlighting the darker corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You won’t find the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Captain America in Hell’s Kitchen. This is a place where the common man lives and struggles just to make it day to day, while living in the same world where Norse Gods and Hulks show up, break things, then leave. The profanity in this show made me forget I was watching a Marvel-based television show.

The fight scenes also provided a tone that isn’t present in the first wave of Marvel films.  When Captain America hits someone, they stay down. When Daredevil hits someone, they fight back. Episode Two, “Cut Man” features Daredevil fighting a gang of Russian thugs in a hallway. The scene was done on one camera in a single take and it should be noted as one of the best pieces of cinema this year. Every fight in this show is brutal and there is no shortage of blood and gore. Unlike his big–screen counterparts, Daredevil gets hit. Often. He gets cut, stabbed, beaten and injured. His body is a patchwork of scars that would make a football player wince. But the fights are beautifully choreographed and executed, making this one of the hardest hitting shows in recent memory.

Daredevil gives Marvel’s Netflix properties a strong start and could open the door for other heroes to get shows of their own. Marvel has already confirmed that Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist will receive their own shows before combining those three with Daredevil for a Defenders mini-series. Even more exciting is that Daredevil’s success may garner the hero a second season of his own show and the story sees are in place for further adventures. Murdock’s horrible luck with women is a staple of his comics franchise. Elektra and Typhoid Mary are ripe for adaptation to the Netflix format, and the show already confirmed that Matt dated “a Greek woman” in college. Furthermore, his other man nemesis, Bullseye, would be a perfect menace in a second season. Lastly, Fisk is behind bars. He’s down but not out and he’ll want revenge against the man who ruined his plans for Hell’s Kitchen.

Normally, I’d take a moment to provide The Good, The Bad and The Verdict, but I’m just going to tell you: Go watch this show right now! Have you streamed the Daredevil on Netflix? If you’ve already finished, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow Daredevil on Netflix via Twitter and Facebook.

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2 Comments on “Netflix is the Devil’s Playground – A Look at “Daredevil””

  1. Daniel Hansen April 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    I loved Daredevil and after watching the whole series in a short time I have very very few problems with it. Each episode was done in a way that it did not seem like it was just a filler episode, but added more to the overall story. I do look forward to seeing a second season and the other shows coming soon to Netflix. That being said I had four little problems with the show. These more stem from the comic fan boy in me that as we all know is never satifised unless everything is done a certain way. These four however do not take anything away from the show they are just the little thing that I am sure most if not all felt that they wish could have changed.

    The first was i think the most commented on, the fact that he was in the black suit to long. Now I had less of a problem with the black suit then I thought I would. After the first episode it grew on me and I accepted it easily. That being said the show did what I think has become somewhat typical these days for tv or movies when it comes to the hero ‘suiting up’ as it were. There have been complaints about how the red suit looks, but I take it as a first model kind of thing I can see it getting a bit sleaker over time, but back to point. I felt that with the end of the Russians felt like it was the mid season type cliff hanger and it would have been a great time to start working from there to get the red suit that we would have it for a few episodes at least, but they only showed it for the last half hour of the final episode of the season and it just felt like, you told us the suit would evolve during the show, it didn’t.

    The next one is also the comic book boy in me. Was it me or was anyone else waiting for Wesley to correct people with ‘we do not use his name, call him the Kingpin if you must. Now granted i know this was Fisks rise to power as it were and the moniker may come next season, lets face it he is not gonna see jail time. After what Foggy said about the trail it was a nod in my mind that yeah, trial will go bad and Fisk gets off. I just felt if they were so set on not using his name then let them call him something else. Something to strike fear and awe into the underlings as it were so it gives Matt a bigger mystery ‘who is the Kingpin’.

    The third is minor and just something I would have like to have seen. I wanted to see more of the court room. I liked watching Matt work and I would have loved to seen Foggy shine as well. With the tone of this season and everything leading up to dismantling the Kingpin’s network I can understand why we didn’t see more it is just something i hope we get to see in the next season.

    The fourth comes down to wishing we had seen more enemies on Matt’s level or even in the wheel house of Daredevil villains. I know this would be considered the orgin season, but I was hoping we would see more then just Matt beating up street thugs. Granted the Ninja fight was good, and it was great foreshadowing for next season for the Hand to come into the mix. But I just wish that Fisk had brought in a more well known heavy hitter to fight him. Daredevil has a great galley of Rogues to call on, but that may come in next season more now that he is fully suited up.

    Beyond that there was nothing wrong with the show, and it is the first Netflix produced show that I am more inclined to go back and watch again just to enjoy another run through. I do hope they are smart and give the show another season because this partnership with Marvel is gold to the fandom. It gives us the heroes we want to see without them having to hold back for one reason or another.

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  1. AKA The Strongest Heroine on Netflix – A Look at Marvel’s “Jessica Jones” | The Hudsucker - November 25, 2015

    […] and Iron Fist were announced as the properties to find life on the small screen. Marvel’s Daredevil released this past April to popular acclaim, centering around the dark and detailed story of […]

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