Daredevil Season 1, Episodes 1-7 Review
Warning! Spoilers may occur!
It’s been a while since the Man without Fear has graced us with his presence. It only makes sense, seeing how bad the 2003 movie was.
And it’s what’s had my teeth clinched since I’d heard Marvel Studios had the rights back and wanted to give Daredevil another go. And after deciding to make it into a Netflix series, we don’t have to wait week after week to see what happens and all thirteen episodes are available now. Here’s a look at how the first seven episodes have gone.
I’m not really interested in doing an actual episode play-by-play but rather what I’m getting from the series so far.
As a longtime Daredevil fan, I don’t talk about it much anymore because I-kid-you-freaking-not, the only thing people know about him is that crappy movie. Which means we don’t talk about Daredevil, people try to tease me about liking a blind Ben Affleck who isn’t as cool as Spider-Man or Thor. I don’t mind going off about it but it’s been a while and man we need to move past it. At least, I do. But even if you search “Daredevil” you get Ben Affleck’s face and the rest of that cast popping up instead of the show we’re talking about. It’s horrible. Let’s move on. This is already sounding way too serious.
We start off with Matt Murdock being blinded as a kid by the car accident where he saved an old man from getting hit by a truck and one thing led to another, chemical waste gets into young Murdock’s eyes, bam, he’s blind, but gains super senses. He can hear blocks away, he can smell where you’ve been based on the scents on your clothes, his sense of touch is hypersensitive, all that great stuff. He grows up and becomes a lawyer with his friend Foggy Nelson.
But with the city’s criminal activity on the rise, and Matt has the means to put a stop to it outside the law as a costumed vigilante. With his martial arts and supersenses, Matt collects evidence by night to use in his effort to cast light on those that live in the shadows.
Okay, you get it though anyway, right? He’s a superhero, he puts on a costume and beats up the bad guys. We don’t really need any explanation which is why mine is so “meh.” But this season of Daredevil, specifically, the first seven episodes. They don’t feature Murdock running around in his prime, with his infamous red costume, causing all the villains to cower, hoping the legend known as Daredevil doesn’t come crashing through their window.
This is when Matt puts on the black mask, regular black clothes, and starts to even figure out what is going on in his city. It’s refreshing that we’re not forced through some hero’s journey where he loses everything in the same hour that he grows up, makes a life for himself, and just runs around rooftops like a goon. The good thing about the show is that we’ve got time. By episode seven, Matt doesn’t have a name, he isn’t in the costume, and arch-nemesis Kingpin has already got power, but his reach is expanding, giving Daredevil all the more need to rise up.
There’s definitely a page taken out of Batman Begins here. While I’m vaguely familiar with the CW show Arrow, which has some similarities to Begins and Daredevil, I’ve only seen clips and can’t compare beyond that. But the hero’s rough beginnings where he makes himself look like an idiot/villain as often as he does something right is about even in his first steps toward becoming the Man without Fear are fairly similar from a distance.
We open with the accident that made Matt go blind and I was still kind of on the edge of my seat thinking “Man, take this seriously, don’t be like the movie. Don’t go the way the movie did…” So every time the show does something cool, I just think how awesome it is, one more way to distance it.
I’m not saying that it needs to be spot-on with the comic to be good, but it’s got the unique position of being a comic-book show, being the first effort after a 2003 disaster, it takes place in the same universe as the Avengers (technically) and it’s dark. Batman dark. So what direction does it take? What familiar things does it keep and what does it change?
You can almost see the writer’s gears turning with all the world-building they’re doing in these episodes. But it feels cool, not rushed. With thirteen episodes in this season, a character that matters in the comic appearing doesn’t mean that they’ll matter anytime soon, but it just let’s you know they’re there. And that feels like the comic to me. These characters are shaking hands with Murdock now, then maybe later they’re grabbing him by his neck in an attempt to strangle him for failing to properly represent them, things like that.
They’re not rushing in all the major Daredevil characters either, which makes me give my respect to them even more so. It’s not all about that time that Bullseye killed Elektra because, thank God, neither of them are in it yet. It’s mostly Matt, Foggy, and Karen Page(!) trying to get their law firm off the ground.
If you are a fan of the comics, you may be wondering why Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk is being portrayed a giant baby criminal that stammers, stutters, and only seems confident when nobody can see him. I assume they’re going for a Fisk that becomes more powerful and more confident as his empire expands, though it is a little weird to see now.
Fisk has always been an absolute-type character. Professor X is sagely, Luke Cage is cool, the Kingpin is corporatism at its worst. He’s rich, wears a white suit, and smokes cigars. Here he kind of blubbers and has outbursts infrequently when he’s embarrassed by a subordinate. It’s an interesting take and I hope we go a little more into his back story. Him mentioning his father makes me think I know where they’re going with this…
Charlie Cox is an interesting choice to play Daredevil. I don’t think anybody would have thought of him previously because he’s not very well known, But he’s filling the shoes well so far and I think it’s better a bigger name wasn’t cast. Now he can be the character instead of “Hey look, it’s Zac Efron pretending to be blind!”
In episode five, “World on Fire,” they show Matt vision for a moment and how he sees the world and it was awesome. I really appreciated the way they incorporated his view of things in a way that looked dynamic yet confusing at the same time. We’re not used to seeing things through his eyes, so we don’t need to just “get it” right off.
The fight scenes are a step up as well. These fight scene are more The Raid: Redemption than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There’s not a lot of “whipping” or “whoosing” noises in an effort to make things look pretty, people just beat the crap out of each other, teeth are spit out, and bones actually break through the skin. There’s a scene at the end of episode two that reminds me of Oldboy, as it does more than a few people I guess.
Really cool, really creative. Guess that training with Stick paid off. Which leads me to my next point- Stick!
Stick is Daredevil’s blind tutor who was training a young Matt Murdock to be a soldier of light so to speak. He was teaching Murdock how to hone his senses and his martial arts. He’s played well by Scott Glen and I can really appreciate the lengths they went to so we can understand the type of character he is. He’s a dick. He’s not a “tough-love” character, he’s a “no-love” character. And he doesn’t let up. It’s not that he doesn’t ever laugh or give a compliment, but all in all, he’s hardcore. So if you were wondering, uh, no- Daredevil didn’t train himself to beat up bullies with gainers that don’t apply to gravity, it was Stick.
One thing to say for certain about Daredevil as a series is that right now, I’m not being blown away by anything. It hasn’t gripped me by the ears, refusing to let me do other things with my life like say, Breaking Bad was doing. Several goldfish died during my Breaking Bad run…Just kidding. But the thing I can say about Daredevil is that it’s got my interest for sure. I wouldn’t be okay with dropping it at these episodes, I feel the need to see how this plays out. Not to mention, it’s only the first season where things are just getting started.
I want to write more but I’ll save the final verdict for the end of the season. I’ve already written more than I meant to. At this point though, the biggest negatives for me are some of the corniness that comes with many lower budget/big idea shows and I’m not a fan of Elden Henson’s portrayal of Foggy. But I’ll reserve a more in-depth opinion for later. Onto episode 8!
Oh and is this intro not awesome? I don’t get sick of watching it.