Daredevil season 1 review
After watching Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter and Gotham, I can’t express how enjoyable an experience it was to watch Daredevil on Netflix. (But I’m going to try.) Finally, after… I dunno, 10 movies and two TV series, Marvel was able to cut loose and bring us a reality that wasn’t too grim but still was recognizable as our own; or as close as we’d like to get. Daredevil is the show comic books fans have been waiting for since Iron Man first hit the stage.
The following is an overview of the entire first season (packed with spoilers); if you’d like to read about the individual episodes, check out my buddy Wayland’s reviews on our comic book site.
Great cast, Surprise Guest Stars
The performances are outstanding by the leads, supporting cast and the guest stars. Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk… these folks are all great. I wouldn’t say there is much in the way of surprises in terms of how these characters are portrayed (except perhaps the vulnerability written into Wilson and executed by D’Onofrio), but we also got some outside the box casting in Vondie Curtis-Hall as Ben Urich and Bob Gunton as Leland Owlsley (My two favorite Gunton movies are Shawshank Redemption and Broken Arrow – he is an amazing supporting player in both. “The trucks now!” How did he make that line work? Because he’s a genius!). My favorite performance/character of season one would have to go to Toby Leonard Moore as James Wesley. That was outstanding – well written, perfectly executed. And I loved Rosario Dawson, who is probably the biggest star on the show, but still didn’t overwhelm things. Oh and Scott Glenn… OK, I was kinda overwhelmed by Scott Glenn as Stick, but it was still awesome.
I’m rambling – everyone is great. Let’s leave it at that.
Great from the beginning
Speaking of great, how awesome is that title sequence and opening theme? That’s how you set mood and express tone without saying a word.
Like Daredevil himself, the camera operation is flowing and graceful at some points and then handheld and sloppy when it needs to be. The use of lighting and shadows is perfectly done. This is a show that knows what it’s doing with visuals.
Quality Fight Choreography
This is the best superhero fight choreography I’ve seen outside of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We’re usually getting something that looks silly (The Avengers) or just a little weird (The First Avenger), but this time, it’s almost always perfect – the punches are felt, the consequences are visible – it works really well, no matter how many fight scenes they stuff into the season.
This is how you handle the Daredevil origin
If you want to adhere to the blinded as a kid and trained by Stick, gritty Frank Miller version, this is the way to do it. Whenever you have a kid learning to fight, it’s soooo easy to f@ck it up (see the Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck as the most pertinent example of this), but they kept it short, to the point, believable and meaningful not just in a “This is how he learned to fight” sort of way, but also in a “This is how he it made him who he is as a person” kinda deal.
Bang, you’re dead!
Of the three deaths that wrap up the end of the show (Wesley, Urich and Owlsley), Wesley and Urich caught me off guard. Sure, once you saw Wilson in Urich’s apartment, you know that was it for ol’ Ben, but until that moment, I didn’t see it coming. Wesley was especially surprising – until Page got the gun, I thought this was the beginning of a new arc for her, but once she got the gun, it was clear there was no other path. Owlsley, on the other hand, has been mouthing off since day one, so it was only a matter of time until he got what he deserved. So when I say, “Bang, you’re dead!” I’m really referring to how suddenly it comes on – in a show littered with guns, only Wesley was shot. I guess Wilson prefers a more personal touch in his murders. I also like that these deaths did more to effect the characters than to change the course of the plot – it wasn’t like, “Ben’s dead! Wesley’s dead! Owlsley’s dead!”
“You’re Daredevil?!? And everything that implies! I am so mad! Grr! OK, I’m over it.”
I’m not sure how I feel about the conflict between Matt and Foggy or how it ended. I think the Daredevil secret was the least of it; as Foggy pointed out, Matt has been playing along and violating Foggy’s own code of conduct (and privacy) without his knowledge for years. That doesn’t seem like something that gets repaired in just a few days… but whatever.
I miss the black costume already
I digged the black costume and it’s vulnerability. I like the idea that he needs armor… but I don’t love the armor itself. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but after the realism of the black outfit, the red armor is going to take some getting used to.
I know this is the first step toward a Defenders TV show or movie or whatever, so I’ll just enjoy this while it lasts. The hyperrealism that is Daredevil is almost too good to be true; it’s like Breaking Bad and SHIELD coming together in the best way possible. There’s a lot of possibilities for season 2, but with the other Netflix shows coming, who the hell knows what they will affect each other.
For now, let’s just bask in the warm red light that is Daredevil season one.