Back in 2004, a movie about a bad lawyer who moonlights as a blind ninja was released and everybody fucking laughed at it. If you want to know why many people consider almost every Superhero Movie with the exceptions of the first two SPIDERMAN and X-MEN movies prior to BATMAN BEGINS as horseshit, look no further than 2004’s DAREDEVIL, a movie so dark and brooding that it had a training montage set to the tune of Evanescence music.
Factor in the fact that I never really liked the Daredevil comics to begin with and given how silly the premise of the character is, I was doubtful that I’d ever take Matt Murdock seriously again after seeing him beat the fuck out of the guys he can’t prosecute in the 2004 movie. Hell, the only reason why I decided to watch Netflix’s take on the character was because season 2 of DAREDEVIL has my all time favorite Comic Book Hero (hint: he has a skull on his shirt) in it and if I wanted to know how Daredevil would face-off against this brand new take on The Punisher, I better watch season 1 first to know where Matt Murdock’s coming from.
But thankfully, Netflix proved me wrong. When you have a thirteen episode TV show about a blind lawyer who fights a fucking ninja at one point and yet that show manages to be something that can be taken seriously, you know there’s some grade A talent calling the shots.
This version of DAREDEVIL seems to be a direct answer to almost every criticism people throw at the mainstream Marvel Movies and the answer the audiences got was a fucking impressive retort. There’s blood, stakes, character development on both sides of the law, action, drama and a hell lot more of stuff that could help improve the fuck out of a Marvel Movie but accidentally bump its rating to a hard R.
Taking place directly after the failed alien invasion in THE AVENGERS, the people of New York do what every person in real life does after a disaster: move along. For once, we’re given a good glimpse of everyday life while living in a society filled with superpowered beings and it’s a story worth checking out. Aspiring defense attorneys Matt and Foggy find themselves entangled in a massive conspiracy born from the citywide destruction inflicted by the Chitauri that involves real estate, murder and corruption from the highest rungs of society. Even if this is technically a Superhero Story due to the Marvel license, random shout-outs to pre-existing heroes and a dickhead in spandex, the main conflict of DAREDEVIL is curiously enough a very human and realistic one, where regular people feel powerless when facing politicians and business tycoons whose influence reaches far and wide. All of this helps make DAREDEVIL one of the most grounded and relatable stories the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has to offer alongside JESSICA JONES and CAPT. AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, which are by far the best stories of the MCU.
Unlike some of his weaker comic book arcs and as of recently the failed 2004 movie, this version of DAREDEVIL manages to balance both the vigilantism and the legal battles his dayjob implies, giving way to some engaging mysteries and well paced crime yarns that would satisfy any Noir nutjob out there with dashes of comic book action to even up the pace. Rather than ignore the lawyering and focus on the punching, DAREDEVIL chooses to connect the both in a massive web of lies that’s fueled by laundered money and gang violence, all of which leads to a more mature Marvel experience that’d be perfect for anyone who got sick of the kiddy bullshit shenanigans of IRON MAN 3.
The problems do crop up when it comes to the characters that take center stage in this story of (literal) blind justice and vigilantism. Now I’m not saying any of the cast members did a shit job but rather, it’s the source material that’s at fault this time around. Matt Murdock himself is a boring as fuck hero who, just like Superman over there in DC, decides to save the world with his awesome powers because why the fuck not. The one thing I never really liked about Clean-Cut Superheroes was that they were one dimensional saviors of mankind who should be accepted because fuck you, they just punched an alien in the face and this reiteration of Daredevil didn’t do much to change things for the better. While it is commendable that the writers used the Frank Miller run as reference since it IS the best Daredevil comic arc to date, the source material itself served as a shackle that locked Matt Murdock into a one-sided debate about the pros and cons about following the law. When his friends and foes debate Murdock about the effectiveness of the legal system, it sounds like a bunch of Political Science students preaching to an Ideologue that fucks the Lady Justice statue on a nightly basis, making the need for such philosophies useless because Matt’s gonna fucking win anyways.
Matt isn’t as flat as any of the pretentious assholes in FANT4STIC (2015) thanks to him questioning the ramifications of his choices every now and then but when you consider the fact that some of his character arcs are predictable especially if you’ve read enough comics and crime fiction, these debates feel a bit more like padding than development. The only way to make such One Dimensional spandex lovers worth giving a fuck about is to surround them with infinitely more interesting people, both friend and foe, and this is DAREDEVIL’s solution to having a boring lead.
When Murdock’s put up against Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) and his awkwardly stilted manner of speaking that may come out as weird at times, he still proves to be fucking boring because here you have a fucking intriguing reinvention of an originally hammy crime boss with actual motive and drama fighting a dude who decided to save the world because heroics. I think it says how forgettable Matt Murdock is when he’s out of the costume when Wesley, Wilson Fisk’s bro for life, is way more interesting than the blind ninja despite the fact that literally nothing about the past of Wilson’s favorite dude is known while everything about Murdock hogs up all thirteen fucking episodes.
But once more, it goes to show how strong DAREDEVIL is as an online TV show when these problems do nothing to tank the show. Matt Murdock may be boring at times but Charlie Cox delivers his performance as the titular vigilante with such charisma it looks like he was born for the role. The show itself may feel tedious at times when it gives way to some informative yet lengthy discussions on legal technicalities especially when it takes three episodes to introduce the main conflict involving Fisk but none of these bog the story down because they instead add to the mounting tension and plot twists the series paced out evenly over the course of thirteen great episodes.
While I still prefer JESSICA JONES when both Marvel Netflix shows are put side by side and while it’s fucking obvious that Punisher and Elektra were brought in for season 2 because Matt Murdock is still boring as fuck and it’s gonna take more than just a Cool Best Friend to make him and his moral code more interesting, this revival of a character who was once the punchline for failed Superhero Movies and Failed Acting Careers (which Ben Affleck awesomely turned around into some really good fine grade stuff) up until GREEN LANTERN came along, DAREDEVIL did what it set out to do and more by giving audiences a different kind of Marvel experience while staying true to what comic book fans know and love.
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