Daredevil Season One (2015) Review

Marvel’s “Batman” gets a serious upgrade.

You wouldn’t exactly be at fault for not knowing about Daredevil outside of the Ben Affleck meh-fest 12 years prior.  He hasn’t been given the big cinematic push other heroes have been blessed with since Marvel decided to kick off this ambitious cinematic endeavor, which is a shame.  The silver lining to it all is that some of the lesser known heroes could be given their time in the limelight in television format, where it’s not necessarily less risk, but in my limited understanding of television production, easier to gauge audience enthusiasm without risking the crumbling of a decade’s worth of world building spanning several movies.

“Daredevil” is more of an ancillary, season spanning hero’s origin story to the overall Marvel Universe, where it’s acknowledged The Avengers saved New York City and little else.  A world with a blind Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and awkwardly lovable Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), two up and coming lawyers fresh off a prestigious internship to start their fledgling practice.  Unbeknownst to Foggy, best friend Murdock moonlights as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, the judge and jury to the city’s seedy underbelly.  Along the way, friends are made, alliances are forged and vengeance made into a dish best served brutal with amazing fight choreography.

I try not to spoil as much of the series as possible, but it needs to be said it’s all told with great writing delivered by impressive acting from all involved, in particular Deborah Ann Wall as the hard headed Karen Page.  She makes her character equal parts vulnerable and bad ass, so she feels like a real person instead of a damsel in distress archetype meant to round out the story.  Another special mention is Vincent D’Onofrio, who makes it abundantly clear he’s not the kind of person to cross.  Cox and Henson have tremendous chemistry together, and for better or worse, you root for the two in their own rights.  Henson in particular I was delighted to see again, as I was wondering not too long ago what he’s been up to.

Hell’s Kitchen and New York City are cinematically beautiful cityscapes that belie the cancer festering within, juxtaposing the beautiful wide angles and cinematography with gritty panache and unrelenting decay.  Murdock’s unique blindness allows him to see the city “on fire,” which was a brilliant way to show how Murdock sees his home both figuratively and literally.  If it weren’t for the fact Murdock and Nelson were born and raised there, you’d wonder why someone would fight so hard to save a terminal case, one more so with their fists and the other with the written law and unwritten truth.

I’ve only seen season one so far, and it feels like it covered all the ground I expected a Marvel series to cover.  It has great fighting scenes, moments of self reflection and a plethora of character interactions that flesh them out so wonderfully you forget they aren’t real people.  It also covers the moral ambiguity of a lawyer playing superhero, which I at least haven’t seen a Marvel property do yet; thankfully it’s downplayed and isn’t overwrought with melodrama.

But there’s the biggest problem; they covered all the ground I think they should in the first 13 episodes, leaving me to wonder what’s left?  There’s Murdock trading his lacking black mask costume for the awesome Daredevil suit, but is that it?  Of course I’m going to watch it, as this first season left me breathless and exhilarated plenty of times despite some drawn out instances that could’be been trimmed without sacrificing too much.

“Daredevil” was an amazing superhero foray into the television format, and I’m not just left wanting more of it, but other heroes as well.  Moon Knight, anyone?

9/10

PROS: Great writing, acting and fight choreography.

CONS: Did it leave anything for Season 2 to do?  Will find out.

 

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