Daredevil – Season 1
I’m a little late to the party on this one but I’ve genuinely been really busy with real life and keeping up with the weekly stuff I’ve got so I’ve had a few problems finding time to work on my all season stuff. Those are my excuses so I’ll just get onto talking about the show.
For those not in the know, Marvel Studios is nothing short of a Juggernaut -funnily enough a character they don’t currently own- with a long string of critical and financial successes and no signs of ever slowing down. There could come a moment where a misstep derails their entire plan but that time is not now. Their behemoth shared universe made the leap onto television with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and later Marvel’s Agent Carter to continue their march towards world domination.
Once that proved successful a plan was hatched to partner up with affordable streaming giant Netflix to produce 4 13 episode TV shows based on some of their lesser known characters. First up is this one, Daredevil, followed by AKA Jessica Jones probably later this year and then continuing with adaptations of Luke Cage and Iron Fist not too long after that. Have you heard of those characters? Probably not, except from Daredevil who had a massively unpopular movie based on him back in 2003. It seems to be part of Marvel’s plan to bring more obscure characters into the public consciousness and make them household names. It might not surprise you to know that they did this before. How many of those reading had really heard of Iron Man before his smash hit movie in 2008? How many knew that Thor was a comic book character who could hang around with Iron Man? Let’s not even get started on Guardians of the Galaxy and the knowledge people had of that comic before the film came out. I could go on but the point sort of proves itself.
Some might say it’s a risk to adapt such obscure characters because you have no idea how audiences might react to them. That’s true to an extent but if a character is well put together then people will react well to them, that much has been proven by now so there’s no real risk in adapting these characters especially since it’s pretty much been confirmed that you can slap the Marvel logo on anything and people will watch it. That’s not a bad thing either because by in large these things are worth watching. It’s all about getting the right people working on them.
In the case of Daredevil, Steven S. DeKnight proved to be the perfect choice to helm such a project. Since Marvel wanted to get a darker look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe a showrunner well versed in that sort of viscerally bleak storytelling would be paramount. Also, his writing credits include some really strong stuff like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Smallville (hey, people watched that!) as well as Spartacus: War of the Arena (I’ve never seen it but people say it’s good). All of the shows I mentioned -except Spartacus as I can’t say for sure having never seen it- are very character focused with the drama coming first and the action come second. Since that’s basically been Marvel’s MO since Stan Lee co-created the Fantastic Four with Jack Kirby someone who values that is a really good idea to go with.
The character of Daredevil is very different to what Marvel have attempted before that point. He lacks the near infinite resources that the other characters have for one thing. Outside of that the world he inhabits is a lot darker than we’ve seen before. His playground is the Manhattan neighbourhood Hell’s Kitchen and he’s needed because the place is completely overrun with crime and corruption. It’s a fairly simple hero premise that most of us will be familiar with but the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn’t touched on the street level stuff before this point.
Daredevil tracks the early days in the career of the titular hero as he tries to establish himself as the protector of Hell’s Kitchen. The development comes with a vast array of consequences and hardships for the fledgling hero as might be expected. The basic purpose of the series is a long form origin story for the character.
At this point we’ve all seen origin stories by the truckload and are a little sick of them -I certainly am anyway- but Daredevil handles it smartly. Instead of spending a lot of time working out how he’s going to operate and training for the inevitable reveal Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) learns by doing.
I really liked this approach as it turns out as it allows the viewer to have the best of both worlds. We get to see Murdock fighting crime in a rudimentary costume as well as learning his craft as a hero. It’s also interesting to see the growth of the Daredevil persona over the course of the season and how Murdock’s perception of it changes. When the show begins he is simply doing it to bring justice to those who can’t really be touched by the law and as it progresses he realises that it’s a lot more than that. Like with many other superhero stories the realisation that he’s becoming a symbol of hope creeps in and he adjusts his behaviour accordingly. It extends to eventually realising that his costume needs to reflect how people see him.
Structurally it’s all really sound and this development is built really well over the course of the season but it’s Murdock’s character that makes it all work. Charlie Cox is absolutely the perfect choice for Matt Murdock. He manages to project a sense of integrity without being preachy and his principles inform every decision he makes. He’s a vastly flawed human being who has a lot to learn about what’s going on around him but he reacts to the knowledge and adapts as he goes along. He also makes plenty of mistakes which humanises him nicely. From very early into the first episode I was onboard with this portrayal of Matt Murdock and was really rooting for him.
It is a darker story than the Marvel Cinematic Universe has previously attempted and as such there is much more visceral action than we’ve seen. As longtime readers of this website will note I’m not a fan of excessive violence or disturbing imagery so I was feeling a little apprehensive about this before going in. I’m glad to say that it’s at a level where I recognise that it is more violent than shows I typically watch but it’s something I can deal with.
There are some really impressive action sequences throughout the run of the show as well. A particular highlight is Matt’s final bout with Fisk in the final episode as well as the single take sequence of him taking on a large group of people in the second episode. The fight choreography is incredible and really showcases Daredevil’s speed, agility and fighting prowess.
I’m glad to say that this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the comics in many ways. Matt Murdock matches his comic book counterpart with all of his characteristics intact. I was actually very surprised that this show preserved the fact that Murdock is a fairly strong catholic who believes in a higher power enough to find confession important enough to keep up with. The Affleck film did this a bit as well but it was mostly to have a cool shot of him draped over a cross. In this adaptation it’s much more a part of who he is. He has to keep so much secret from everyone around him and he’s noticeably racked with guilt over the violence he inflicts on others that it would make sense for him to seek comfort in some sort of higher power. The scenes where he is confessing his sins are really well written introspective stuff and the fact that they are threaded throughout the season made it all the more important to his character.
When characters are religious it is often the case that the show beats the audience over the head with their beliefs and makes it a massive part of their personality but in the case of Matt Murdock it is one part of his characterisation and doesn’t dominate his personality. I really appreciated how well this was handled and how real it felt.
One major aspect of Matt Murdock’s character from the comics is his sense of justice as well as his very strong moral code. He has always had a solid definition for what he feels is right and wrong and this comes across here. It’s handled in a variety of ways with the most obvious and basic of these being that he won’t accept cases where there’s a high possibility of guilt. The fact that he is only willing to represent innocent people no matter how much money might come his way says everything about his personal and professional ethics.
His morality comes to light in other ways. Whenever he is discussing situations with others his stance is always very clear and really logically justified. There are also many examples of him openly disagreeing with the corruption around him and feeling that it is his responsibility to do something about it.
In a clever twist his moral code doesn’t make him at all naive about the reality of the situation. He realises that the legal system is broken in a lot of ways and that people with enough influence will never be brought to justice through normal channels. This is where the Daredevil persona comes in. Matt Murdock feels the need to assume this mantle so that he can do things that the police can’t and find information through violent means. It does bring him outside of the law but it creates a sort of “do the ends justify the means?” argument that is constantly addressed.
The public perception of Daredevil is very mixed. Some think that he’s a hero doing what the police refuse to do and sticking up for the “little guy”. Others think that he’s a menace that should be locked up for his actions. As with most characters like this there is a specific turning point that makes him decide to do things a certain way. This is revealed in the 10th episode “Nelson v Murdock” where Matt tells the story of his first time going out to seek justice. His intentions were entirely noble as he beat up a man who was forcing himself upon his young daughter. Naturally this is a very sickening thing for someone to do so it’s easy to take Matt’s side in that situation. Beyond that it provides a clear example of something that Matt could actively do something about where the police can’t. In this case acting outside the law was at great benefit to someone else’s wellbeing. That in a nutshell is Matt’s motivation for becoming a costumed vigilante and it’s a very strong justification.
As I mentioned above, Matt Murdock is a lawyer and that’s a very important aspect of the character. On the surface it tells the audience that he is very knowledgable about the law so therefore knows exactly what he’s doing when he breaks it. For him there’s a distinct difference between the concepts of legal and just. What is legal doesn’t necessarily mean just in his view. It’s a function of modern society where people get away with terrible crimes due to some sort of vague technicality which means they are free to do it all over again. After the legal system fails is when Daredevil will step in. His status as a costumed vigilante means that he can work to bring those to justice who have slipped through the cracks. Matt knows that he’s breaking the law but that’s fine by him when it impacts his sense of right and wrong. For him it’s all about making sure that the innocent stay that way and the guilty go down for their crimes.
Matt Murdock is blind. A childhood accident involving some kind of chemical hitting his eyes causes him to lose his sight but the chemical heightens all of his other senses to superhuman levels. His sense of smell is so acute that he can smell people coming from pretty far away and he can hear things like heartbeats and breathing through walls. The series depicts this in many ways but most commonly due to him just getting around day to day with no trouble. There are a few instances of him using his hearing to help determine if people are lying through their heart rate and he picks up subtle variances in voice tone to indicate when people are hiding something. It is mentioned that his senses help create a picture of the world that he can “see” but it is only visualised once. In the episode “World on Fire” Matt mentions that his abilities make the world look like it’s on fire. I would have liked to see this visualised more but it was a cool visual when it did appear.
One thing I really appreciated that Daredevil was never portrayed as being anywhere near untouchable. His heightened senses gave him something of an edge in combat but not enough to make him dodge every blow thrown at him like he’s in The Matrix. He takes plenty of hits and as such gets badly injured several times. He has no magical healing factor so has to heal naturally. It’s another thing I was concerned about but having him be often badly beaten added nicely to the realism.
Daredevil’s origin is very comic accurate down to the tragic death of his father who died doing the right thing. The show sets up that Matt Murdock is very much inspired by his father to seek justice. There are a lot of really good flashback scenes that give us a clear idea of the sort of relationship they had. Jack Murdock was never able to amount to anything due to the constraints placed on him by society but he did the best he could as a boxer. He does manage to provide for his family and makes a point of ensuring that Matt knows the difference between right and wrong. There was a great scene where he urged Matt to make sure he doesn’t end up like he did and make something for himself. He directly urges him to be something like a lawyer who can make a real difference. This is clearly something that Matt takes to heart and it helps to inform his choices as an adult. Amusingly his adult choice is a hybrid of the two ideas but either way the influence his father had on him is clear.
Jack Murdock is a great example of a man who is a product of his society. Hell’s Kitchen isn’t a place blessed with the most opportunities and there’s a real difficulty to life there. Jack is shown to be constantly worn out and the fact that he has to take beatings for a living says a lot about how difficult it is to get anywhere in this particular area. The corruption doesn’t kick in fully until Matt is an adult but there are definitely seeds of this in the flashbacks. It’s clear that the criminal element is looking for a more significant foothold than it has at that point and it can be.
Naturally this isn’t a one man show. Matt has a supporting cast who interact with him in various ways. His best friend and business partner is Franklin “Foggy” Nelson (Elden Hensen). The two characters met at law school and have stuck together ever since. On paper Foggy acts as the comic relief but his role is much deeper than that. He is the character most likely to crack a joke sure but there’s a real sense of integrity to him that gives the character layers of credibility above his otherwise comedic persona.
Foggy is largely unchanged from his comic book counterpart beyond being updated to fit with the time he actually lives in. In terms of the way he acts and his role in Matt’s life he is very comic accurate with a few modern twists. The respect for the source material is one of the reasons I responded so well to this show.
He has some really great moments throughout the 13 episodes that shows a buried selfless nature that comes to him so naturally. A good example of this was when he was too concerned about helping other people to realise that he had been injured himself. In general he conducts himself with a “put others first” type attitude that I found quite inspiring. He’s just a good guy who wants to help people and he doesn’t have any super powers so needs to rely on his sense of right and wrong, his intelligence and his resourcefulness to do so. He doesn’t spend his nights beating criminals to a pulp but makes a difference anyway.
Daredevil is a show that is sometimes lacking in levity so Foggy brings that to the table. Elden Hensen is just amazing in this role with a wonderful sense of comic timing that is always a joy to watch. He and Matt make up your standard double act with Matt being the serious one and Foggy being the funny one but the writing is strong enough that it never feels gimicky or formulaic. There was an authenticity to their friendship that only great writing coupled with great acting can truly bring to life.
The Foggy character more than anyone else functions as the audience surrogate. He is the everyman in the middle of all this madness so doesn’t really have a defined arc as such. He doesn’t really need one as his function within the show is clear. There are often moments where he wrestles with his sense of right and wrong when financial temptation is at play but since he always decides to take the moral course of action there’s really nothing for him to learn. The fact that he is conflicted over taking money rather than doing what he knows is right deepens his character significantly and shows that he’s not a righteous heroic type. His flawed humanity is a big part of what makes this character work.
It’s always clear why Matt trusts Foggy over anyone else and in many cases Matt acts as the angel on his shoulder. I like the fact that Foggy gets annoyed with Matt for pointing out that certain things are wrong as sometimes he’d like to forget all that and be selfish in order to get somewhere in his career. It’s a constant conflict within him throughout but Matt clearly has faith in him shown when he trusts him to make the right decision without any real prompting.
The other supporting character in Matt’s life is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) who serves as the secretary/assistant for Matt and Foggy. She is introduced in the first episode when she is framed for murder and Matt wants to take up the cases because he knows that she’s innocent. Naturally she responds well to this treatment as everyone else believes she’s guilty. Fundamentally Matt senses a goodness within her that is worth his time to defend so this brings them into her life.
Karen Page was initially little more than someone unattainable for Matt Murdock to pine over in the comics. She wasn’t strong, confident or especially well defined so when it came to adapting her for this show little more than the name, her kind hearted nature and her role at Matt and Foggy’s practice was kept.
This version of Karen Page is a very confident and kind hearted person who fits in well with Matt and Foggy’s morality. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn’t take information at face value. I like that she was able to have her own story within the overall plot of the season and that she largely kept that to herself. it appears that she likes Matt and Foggy but doesn’t fully trust them so keeps a lot of things to herself as a result. Her autonomous nature gets the story moving in different ways.
Like Matt, her innate sense of justice motivates her to get to the truth of any given situation. She is heavily fixated on getting to the bottom of the reason she was framed as well as doing the right thing by people. There is self interest in her actions but she isn’t a selfish character. I found the darkness that bubbles just beneath the surface to be a really interesting addition to what was a very shallow character in the initial comics. She is very much a product of her society and has this sense of world weariness about her. It also shows just how strong she is if she can go through everything she has and still come out smiling. The positive attitude that she has isn’t faked for the people around her so that they don’t ask too many questions either. Karen is genuinely positive and brings a warmth to the offices of Nelson & Murdock that would otherwise be missing.
Deborah Ann Woll was a great choice to play this role as she is able to juggle the complex personality with relative ease. She is instantly likeable and engaging as well as having the emotional intensity necessary to fit into this version of Daredevil.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk is the primary antagonist of the season and he’s the best villain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had since Loki. It could be argued that he’s a lot better in many ways but that’s probably a debate for another time.
The character of Wilson Fisk has been around for a long time in the comics as a villain who causes problems for Daredevil and Spider-Man more often than anyone else. He’s something of a Lex Luthor type as he is infinitely rich and a criminal genius who is at the top of the pile when it comes to the criminal element. He’s the guy that gives supervillains orders. The character appeared in the Ben Affleck movie played by Michael Clarke Duncan and many will remember his significant appearances in the 90s Spider-Man cartoon where he served as the main antagonist for most of it.
This version of Fisk is seen much earlier in his criminal career and therefore develops as it goes on. Publically he’s a bit of a reclusive billionaire who doesn’t make any public appearance and hides away. He’s sort of the opposite to Tony Stark in that respect who obviously has a massive public persona.
It takes a while for Fisk to be physically introduced in this show but his presence is felt up until that point. He is set up as an unseen puppet master pulling the strings within Hell’s Kitchen from afar. His underlings both fear and respect him while living in constant fear of what he might do to them if they fail him in some way. It’s a solid way to tease the character and builds anticipation for his eventual introduction.
Naturally laying these foundations means that the pressure to stick the landing is all the more important and this is handled excellently. Fisk remains a mystery that unfolds over the course of the season after his introduction without giving too much away upfront. Initially his character is developed through his actions with the implication that there’s something in his past that haunts him.
Fundamentally Fisk is a very broken man who has a lot of issues that constantly eat away at him. These are kept vague at first but are slowly revealed as the season progresses. Like Matt, Fisk is entirely a product of his environment and is motivated to save his city but in a very different way. Fisk sees taking control and destroying what he considers to be the bad elements of the society to be the only way to save it where Matt looks to bring justice to the lawless and inspire people.
Throughout the season Fisk employs some really extreme methods to bring order to the chaos that is Hell’s Kitchen. he’s not an evil man by any stretch but his morality is questionable. His desire to save Hell’s Kitchen is genuine enough and he definitely feels as if his way is the only way to do it. In many ways he sees his methods as a necessary evil to bring about something better.
It’s a big departure from any other version of this character but it really works. Vincent D’Onofrio is perfectly cast in this complex role and brings an appropriate level of menace to it throughout. He also exudes the right amount of authority when dealing with other crime bosses or those who work for him and hides a very private vulnerability that really makes his character interesting.
The depth of character that this vulnerability brings is very impressive. Fisk is a very damaged human being and this started when he was a child. As with many tortured figures the root of this is parental influence. In this case his father was hard on him and very abusive to both him and his mother. There was a particularly harrowing flashback scene where his father beat his mother while making Fisk stare at a wall and hear the whole thing happening. The image of the wall is recreated in a painting that he buys in the present day and represents the fact that he has never moved past the damage his father caused to his psyche.
A definite turning point occurs when he decides to defend his mother and attacks his father with a hammer which of course kills him. It’s the first time that Fisk ever took action to protect something important to him and it begins his development into the crime lord that he will one day become. It’s a solid origin story and draws some interesting parallels with Matt who is also influenced by his father albeit in a far more positive way.
Developing a villain this way clearly shows that not every antagonist has to have a clear personal connection to the hero in order to be compelling. Throughout the season Matt and Fisk actually share very little screen time together. There’s a conversation over a walkie talkie and a couple of encounters but for the most part their stories run parallel to one another without actually intersecting too often. They are part of the same story and are in direct conflict but they don’t need to physically interact all the time to make that struggle real. It makes the scenes they do share together all the more significant and keeps the threat level high from Fisk since Matt spends most of the time battling his influence rather than directly engaging him.
The most significant relationship to Fisk in this show is Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer). In the comics and 90s Spider-Man cartoon she was Fisk’s wife but the relationship is changed for this adaptation. Here the relationship is built right from their first meeting. She is the curator of the art gallery that houses the painting Fisk buys due to the personal significance it has. From there the relationship develops in some really interesting ways. Early on Vanessa is aware of Fisk’s criminal activities and is supportive of them because he is always honest with her and that is what’s important to her.
She senses the pain within him and helps him to work through it to make him stronger. In their relationship she represents the inner strength in Fisk that has been buried pretty much all of his life. He finds himself inspired by her which ultimately leads to him revealing himself publicly as a businessman with a desire to help Hell’s Kitchen. There is no question about how devoted Fisk is to her and that causes his criminal business partners to wonder if Vanessa is making him soft. Naturally she becomes a target in an effort to remove that humanising influence.
I really liked how this relationship was depicted as Vanessa was never a bland love interest who was only there because Fisk needed one. She was always a significant part of his life and helps him develop into the criminal that comic fans will recognise. A great example of this was in the episode “Shadows In the Glass” which depicts Fisk having a very strict morning routine that involves him putting on nearly identical suits to signify how stuck he is in the endless cycle of self doubt. When Vanessa is introduced to that routine everything changes as evidenced by her selecting a different suit for him which represents Fisk’s renewed sense of purpose to change his methods and really rise to the top of the criminal underworld. She helps keep his inner demons at bay and allows him to be made stronger by them rather than cowering from them. It’s very powerfully symbolism and shows how much stronger Fisk is when Vanessa is by his side.
There are other characters in the show that are important in different ways. James Wesley (Toby Leonard Moore) was Fisk’s right hand man and someone that he trusted implicitly. Wesley was supportive of Fisk throughout and the two had a very strong friendship. He was always depicted as intelligent and ruthless but thankfully the show never went down the route of him wanting to betray Fisk to take over for him. He had a defined role to carry out in Fisk’s narrative and fit that well.
Moore did a great job of playing this role and always came across as intimidating. There is no better example of this than in the episode “Saints and Martyrs” where he kidnaps Karen Page and comes across as genuinely terrifying as he has her completely at his mercy. His importance to Fisk is exemplified by his emotional reaction when he finds out that Wesley has been killed.
Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) is another important figure in the show. He serves as something of a sounding board for Matt who carries a lot of darkness and guilt over the way he dispenses justice. Matt makes it clear that he seeks forgiveness for something he hasn’t done yet but Lantom tells him it doesn’t work that way. Their relationship is an interesting one as it is born our of sincerity. Matt needs to talk about his inner conflicts and Lantom is just a moral guy who really wants to help anyone he can.
Priests are so often characterised as being deviants in some way so I found it really refreshing that this member of the clergy is portrayed as being a morally upright human being. There are no shades to his personality nor is he hiding some kind of ham fisted dark agenda. Simply what you see is what you get and this helps legitimise the religions side of Matt Murdock. If the show discredited this character in any way then the Matt’s Catholicism would have come across as something negative.
Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is a woman who kindly took Matt in when he was lying injured in a dumpster and nursed him back to health. She is reluctant to help him at first but her good nature wins through and she can’t help but do everything possible to make sure this mysterious stranger lives through the night.
I really like the way the relationship between Matt and Claire was portrayed throughout the series. Initially she is terrified of him but more scared of the people after him so has no choice but to trust him. Eventually this turns into an uneasy partnership that has an underlying attraction. She’s not a conventional love interest by any stretch as she decides that she can’t emotionally handle Matt’s life so distances herself from him. This is something that Matt can’t argue with and reluctantly accepts. She fills the role of tending to his wounds at several points throughout the season. Rosario Dawson does a great job of bringing Claire to life and has great chemistry with Charlie Cox that helps to make their connection feel more real.
Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall) is a reporter who believes in getting to the truth above any kind of financial gain. He spends a lot of the season working with Karen to try to expose Fisk’s criminal dealings which naturally gets him in a lot of trouble. It’s a slow burn but things really get difficult for him when he starts to get close to the truth. Ultimately it results in his tragic death but he is a man who upheld his integrity until the very end and was always portrayed as a devoted husband to his ailing wife.
He also had some interactions with Matt and Foggy. In the case of Matt, he met him in both identities and there was a very strong hint that he knew the truth. Given that there was no attempt made to change Matt’s voice and Ben’s not an idiot it’s not too much of a stretch.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the cast here but the collection of characters is a large part of the reason this show works so well. Each of them have a very defined part to play in the overall narrative. The corruption caused by the criminal element within Hell’s Kitchen is central to everything that goes on here. I really like that the events of The Avengers had the unintended consequence of letting the criminal element come to prominence in Hell’s Kitchen. The after effects of the Battle of New York allowed people like Fisk to move in and control the area. It provides a great setup for Matt and his allies to battle against this. It was an explanation that wasn’t needed but it was a good way to tie it into the broader cinematic universe that it’s a part of.
There are a lot of meandering story lines that ultimately lead straight back to Fisk. This approach worked really well as it creates a sense of scope while keeping the internal politics of Hell’s Kitchen self contained. It all leads back to Fisk because he has managed to spread into every part of the infrastructure. Daredevil vs. Fisk is the classic David and Goliath struggle but Matt fights on anyway because he knows that he has right on his side. It makes the ending somewhat predictable but the journey to get there works well.
When the season starts Matt is wearing a very rudimentary black costume when fighting crime. In my opinion it looked really awful but it makes a lot of sense given the context of the show. It’s a very practical outfit and it’s believable that a blind man could put it together himself but having to put up with it for almost the entire series was a big ask. I appreciated that he needed to work his way up to the classic Daredevil image but the comic fan in me was disappointed with the home made costume. If it had only been around for an episode or two then it would have been fine but I thought it was around for too long. His choice of attire doesn’t make it a bad show but it’s just a bit dull to look at.
His eventual costume wasn’t really up to much either. It was a good effort to try and redesign the classic outfit while updating it but there’s something about it that looks a bit off. I do wonder if he’ll get a better version of it for season 2. The current version fits the tone of the show nicely and I do like that the reason for having it made was so that he could become a symbol. Having Foggy and Karen giving their opinion on how it looks as a method of feedback for him was a nice touch as well.
Beyond the cosmetic issues there were other small issues that I had throughout. I don’t feel that Matt, Karen and Foggy had enough scenes interacting as a trio. When these scenes happened they were excellent as the actors had such a natural chemistry that put their characters across really well when sharing a scene. There was probably enough to carry the season but these interactions were so enjoyable that I wanted more of them. These scenes were the biggest examples of levity within the show as well and showed that Matt was capable of having a sense of humour some of the time.
Similarly for a couple of lawyers there were precious little courtroom scenes. I was half expecting a show that was part superhero story as well as part courtroom drama but there’s only one example I can think of. Charlie Cox did a great job when playing this side of Matt Murdock so I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more of it. The relatively short time frame of the entire season as well as their complete lack of clients at this point sot of prevents this from happening but I hope there is more of it in subsequent seasons.
Outside of the criminal underworld story there was a really confusing episode called “Stick” where Matt Murdock’s blind mentor came back to enlist his help taking out some other problem that has little to do with the rest of the season. It was definitely the weakest episode as it felt like a departure from everything that had come before it. The character of Stick (Scott Glenn) is important as it gives an idea of how Matt managed to hone his skills after becoming blind but his appearance feels like something that could have waited.
There’s a slight attempt to introduce mysticism in the form of the implied involvement of “The Hand” but there isn’t enough detail given to bring any more than the hint. I have no issue with introducing the mystical aspect but it seemed to be brought up and left aside without any real explanation as to what the significance of it all was. This was definitely setup for a further season or perhaps one of the other shows but it was clumsily slotted into the overall narrative of the season.
Despite some minor flaws I had a great time watching this series as it worked really well on so many different levels.
The overall narrative of the season is intricately woven and constantly compelling with a sense of urgency that never quite lets up. It all comes together because the characters are so well written and performed that they really help bring Hell’s Kitchen to life. It certainly is a great way to establish the character of Daredevil and bring him into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Eventually I intend to drill down into the individual episodes to review them and see if my average for all 13 matches my overall review of the season here. This is a long review but I had a lot of ground to cover without the benefit of covering each episode in turn. Perhaps for the next Marvel Netflix show I’ll tackle them one at a time rather than doing it like this as this took me a longer time than it really should have.
Anyway, can’t recommend this enough and it’s a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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