2016.7: Daredevil Season One (Blu-ray)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m rather late to this one. Season Two has already been and gone and fans looking forward to a Defenders spin-off and an eventual season three further beyond that, but I’ve only just finished this first series. Blame it on how television shows are sold/distributed these days, and marvel (pardon the pun) at my powers of avoiding spoilers. For years.
Daredevil is, pretty much, every bit as good as people had been telling me. It takes many of the standard tropes of the superhero genre and gives them a fresh spin, which is pretty amazing considering how many superhero tv shows are on the air right now and how many superhero blockbusters are in cinemas. Its dark, its grim, it has a few really effective twists and turns, and has a genuinely likeable lead who has enough doubts and fears to make him seem more realistic and interesting than your standard genre good-guy in a spandex suit might. Funnily enough, whilst I mention that, I would just point out the show seemed, in hindsight, more interesting when he was dressed in his simple black mask and suit disguise, like a shadowy vigilante. When he finally acquires his full Daredevil costume that doubles as protective armour, somehow the show veers uncomfortably close to self-parody and looking silly. Its another hero in a funny costume, this gritty and realistic film-noir story suddenly turning into, well, a typical Marvel flick. Its a tricky line to cross when a show has been as realistic and gritty as this was before turning into yet another super-costumed drama. Hopefully I’ll get over that when I eventually see season two.
The one thing Daredevil suffers from -if suffers is indeed the right word- is the usual strange thing about the villain stealing the show. It almost always seems to happen, and Daredevil is certainly no exception. Here we have the fascinating, vicious local crime boss, Wilson Fisk , who is played with such nuance and depth by Vincent D’Onofrio, it seems that he thinks he’s in a Shakespearean tragedy. His Kingpin is a monster who thinks his actions are justified by his goal to ‘fix’ his blighted city that he grew up in a child. Its clever how Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) shares the same background of being a child of Hell’s Kitchen, New York, and shares too a desire to ‘fix’ his blighted city .The guys are polar opposites yet be alike, both creations of this crime-ridden metropolis that needs either a hero or a monster, or maybe both.
Charlie Cox is great as the hero by the way- it’s just a pity for him that he is pitched against D’Onofrio playing a meatier character, but his Matt Murdock is pretty interesting and conflicted enough to be a rewarding hero. A lawyer by day and a vigilante at night, he is well aware of the perverse dichotomy at work and agonises over whether his violent actions are justified or his courtroom antics a waste of time. Corruption is rife throughout the system, and good guys are eaten up by it – who can you trust when you can’t trust the cops or the justice system? Is an honest lawyer the answer or a masked vigilante?
The show might have benefitted from being ten episodes rather than thirteen – ten seems to be some kind of magic number for these tv shows- as the story seems overly stretched over the run but on the whole, yeah, a great show, and a breath of fresh air for me, as I’ve gotten bored of (and stopped watching) Marvel’s Agents of Shield and Arrow, Flash etc. Maybe these Netflix shows are indeed the answer.