|Below is a spoiler-free review of Marvel’s Daredevil Season one
It has been almost one year since Marvel introduced us to the Hell’s Kitchen’s vigilante and left us surprised and stunned. Marvel, known for its big, splashy and fun comic book adaptations broke that mold here and delivered a raw, dark and brooding superhero tale that left as much (and more) impact.
Daredevil hits the ground running with the first episode where Matt Murdock and his best friend Foggy Nelson are introduced and are shown launching their law firm. They quickly jump into a case of corruption involving Karen Page who accidentally has crossed lines with Wilson Fisk, a mysterious businessman who lives in the darkness and whose name is taken in a hushed manner of fear and awe in all of Hell’s Kitchen. Later, it is revealed that Matt Murdock is a pajama-suited vigilante by night who punches and kicks his way through the bad guys.
In the subsequent episodes, Matt, who plays a principled lawyer in the daylight and ‘the man in black’ (yes, that’s the name he is known by for the first few episodes) at night wrestles with the baddies of Hell’s kitchen as well as with the morality of what he is doing. He often takes the support of a priest when the lines between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes a blur. He is filled with dilemma whether to follow the law or take it in his own hands.
Helmed by Drew Goddard (of The Cabin in the Woods fame), Daredevil is pretty much faithful to the comics while infusing the tone of Frank Miller’s version of the character in the 1980’s. The script is witty and taut with the first few episodes brilliantly setting up the second half of the season. There is a certain visual style and grittiness which makes the overall aesthetic look fabulous in the black and red pulpy colour tone. The cinematography is top-notch with the grimness surrounding the Hell’s Kitchen shot beautifully in dark alleys and streets.
Coming to the performances, Charlie Cox will win your heart as Matt Murdock. He is a refreshing addition to the MCU superhero gang with his charming and terrific screen presence. He does well in the lawyer role, is comfortable with every character and brings depth in his connections but it is when he dons the black costume at night where he is an absolute stunner. He kicks ass and God how he excels at it. He brings the perfect balance to the character and that’s why it feels like he was tailor-made for this role. The supporting characters too bring in maturity to the screenplay. Elden Helson as Foggy is sweet and goofy which gives a light-hearted tone to the drama. Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page is convincing throughout though brilliant at times. But it was Vincent D Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin who blew me away with his broken, eccentric and menacing performance. Rosario Dawson plays the nurse who stitches up Matt now and then and I am eager to see where the creators take her character.
Now I bet you’ve seen some pretty good action sequences on TV, but what this show offers you will definitely trump all that. The action is truly remarkable and utterly brutal with the punches and kicks shot gloriously using long and one-take shots. The sound of ribs breaking and bones crunching will reverberate in your ears long after you finish with an episode. I liked the ninja fighting sequence between Matt and Nobu (the second best) in Speak of the Devil but everyone knows what everyone’s favorite is; the Hallway fight sequence in the Cut Man is a pure gem! Amazingly choreographed and amusingly executed, this exhilarating yet really believable action scene will leave you gasping by the end. Hats off to the stunt coordinators!
Daredevil functions like more of a crime drama than a superhero series and that’s one of the points which makes it effective. Though bogged down by too many side stories at times, Daredevil is slickly made and rises as one of the most un-marvel-y things you would have watched. Marvel’s idea of bringing the second-tier superheroes to the small screen started off with Daredevil (Jessica Jones being their second venture)and what a start it was. Marvel fan or not, this is absolutely superb television!