I’m just going to come right out and say this. Netflix’s original series, Daredevil, is one of the best things Marvel has ever done. And this is coming from someone who’s never been a huge Daredevil fan, especially after the 2003 Ben Affleck fiasco. But this new series is definitely something special, and here are five reasons why I think it just might be a game changer.
5. Great storytelling.
This is the cornerstone of every great movie or TV series. And I don’t know who is in charge of story development for Daredevil, whether it’s the writers or someone higher up, but they are doing it right, creating a visceral setting full of characters you’ll care about. Here’s how I know a series knows how to tell a story: I can’t wait for the next episode. Which is why I love Netflix’s approach to series, putting all episodes up at once. I consumed Daredevil in a relatively short amount of time, starting Friday night and ending this morning.
4. No holds barred content.
Marvel’s decision to partner with Netflix was a brilliant move. Most people subscribe to the service, so it’s not like a lot of people will be left out. And if they’re not subscribers, Daredevil is definitely worth the price of a month’s subscription. But what going with Netflix means is that Marvel can do much more, content-wise, than they could on network TV. And they take advantage of that freedom. Daredevil is rated TV-MA for a reason. It’s no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for sure. I love that show, but for the most part, it has retained a somewhat lighthearted tone throughout its two season run. But Daredevil is so much darker than S.H.I.E.L.D., so much more violent, and actually, this surprises me. I would’ve thought that Marvel (i.e. Disney) would pander to its younger audience. But I’m kind of glad they’re not doing that here. This is Marvel for adults, Marvel After Dark, and it’s an appropriate take because these Netflix series deal with street-level vigilantes—real urban crime with real consequences. It’s a bold move for Marvel, and I think it’s going to pay off.
3. The characters.
The key to any good story is a cast of characters viewers can feel for: heroes you can root for and villains who are interesting and for whom you can even sympathize. Daredevil scores on both accounts (and the latter one is really hard to do). Matt Murdoch is a man with a power, and as we know, with great power comes great responsibility. Murdoch feels this responsibility keenly and has the courage to act on it. But there’s a dichotomy. He’s a lawyer, one who believes in upholding the law’s principles. But at night he’s a vigilante, putting criminals in the hospital. And all this he has to also reconcile with his Catholic leanings. But one of the things I really appreciate is that his powers aren’t limitless. He’s good at what he does (both in the courtroom and on the streets), but he’s no Thor or Captain America. He still spends a good amount of time getting his but kicked. And I like that. As for the villains, Wilson Fisk is as vile as they come. But he also has a back story that makes you understand why he’s become the monster he has (though by the end he’s completely irredeemable). It’s kind of refreshing. But Murdoch and Fisk are just the main characters. The supporting players are just as interesting, just as appealing. In the interest of time, however, I won’t go on about them. Just watch the show, and I think you’ll see what I mean.
2. The cast.
Marvel and Netflix scored big in this department. I’m not overly familiar with Charlie Cox, but he kills it as the title character, bringing just the right amount of complexity to the role. Vincent D’Onofrio is amazing as Wilson Fisk. That sympathy you feel for him (at least at first), it’s by and large owing to D’Onofrio’s performance. There’s a scene in one of the early episodes where Fisk is trying to get up the nerve to ask a woman out, and you really get a sense of his vulnerability and insecurity. The supporting cast is nearly as good. Deborah Ann Woll plays Matt Murdoch’s secretary, but she’s so much more than that, an integral part of the story and no Mary Sue. Woll was always one of my favorite things about True Blood, and she’s just as compelling in Daredevil. One of the biggest gets for the series, though, is Rosario Dawson. I’m a long-time fan of Dawson. I had the opportunity to meet and speak to her once, and she was extremely nice. Sadly, she’s sorely underused in Daredevil, and I hope they’ll rectify that in the future.
1. Long-term thinking/continuity
This has always been where Marvel shows its masterfulness. It’s why they’re miles ahead of other studios who produce comic book related content. DC/Warner Bros. is trying to catch up, but I personally don’t think they’re doing a great job. And their TV properties (the best thing they’re doing at the moment) don’t link up with their movie properties. I wasn’t a fan of Man of Steel at all, and I don’t have much hope for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad. But even Daredevil, which is much darker than anything Marvel has done, still exists in the same universe as its other properties. Mentions are made of the incident that nearly destroyed New York (the Chitauri invasion in The Avengers, I assume), as well as Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. I like this. I like this a lot. And it’s only just the beginning. As Netflix comes out with more of its street-level viginlante stories—A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist—I’m sure we’ll see more tie-ins. These shows will ultimately result in The Defenders, and my hunch is that it will link directly to 2016’s Doctor Strange. I’m hoping that Cumberbatch (as Stephen Strange) will be a part of The Defenders. I cannot wait to find out.
If I were to add a sixth thing that sets Daredevil and Marvel TV above the rest, it’s their top notch fight choreography. Don’t believe me? Just take one of Ming Na’s fight scenes from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and compare it to a similar scene from Arrow. They’re not even in the same league. And Daredevil is no different. There’s a fight sequence in one of the early episodes that rivals the hammer scene in Chan-Wook Park’s Old Boy. It seriously is movie quality stuff.
When it was first announced, I was initially on the fence about a Daredevil series, but now I’m a true believer. I’m salivating for more. Marvel is a juggernaut that can’t be stopped, and I’m on board for the long haul. If you haven’t started watching Daredevil yet, don’t hesitate any longer. As I said above, it’s one of the best things Marvel has done. Ever.