11th Apr2015

‘Daredevil: Season 1’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


It almost seems popular to hate the Daredevil movie, but I have never hidden the fact that I actually liked it.  Now that Netflix and Marvel have finally released the first season of their new show for the superhero in the new improved Marvel Universe, does it fix all the wrongs that people decided the Ben Affleck version made?

Beginning the story with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) starting their own law firm we see them somewhat naïvely fighting for justice, while at night Murdock dons the mask and takes his fists to the streets to protect the civilians of Hell’s Kitchen.  Making more of an impact in his nightly endeavours more than during the day it’s not long before the crime lords take notice, especially the business man and philanthropist Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) whose twisted plans for Hell’s Kitchen are in stark contrast to those of the Daredevil.

So a television series about a comic book hero, guess what… it’s dark and gritty.  The Daredevil comics have always been somewhat dark but you can’t help but think that there is more than a little inspiration here taken from what Arrow has done and been so successful with.  This isn’t a negative thing though as if any superhero could use a dark and gritty representation of itself it is one set in New York City and focussing more on the question of justice for the civilians, battling against the fat cat business people, corruption and crime lords that give little thought for the common man.

I’m sure there will be many who will love this version of Daredevil.  He’s a clean-cut Catholic boy, living in a life of violence that constantly makes him question his actions and just what he is becoming.  Charlie Cox really seems to be able to capture the tortured soul of Matt Murdock while not overloading us with whiney “oh woe is me I have to save the city and sacrifice everything I am” tantrums that modern superheroes tend to go through a lot.  His version of Daredevil is one constantly fighting with his moral stand of wanting to save people, while knowing that he is on a thin line between justice and revenge.  His only problem is the character of Wilson Fisk is somewhat more appealing at times.

The audience watches Daredevil knowing that Wilson Fisk sooner or later is going to make his entrance into the world of Daredevil, but I’m not sure they will be ready for this version who takes his time before walking into the spotlight.  This version of Fisk is as brutal and psychotic as expected, and ruthless but he also has a human side.  With a television show format we able to see the Wilson Fisk behind the business, what made him the man he is and how fragile a person he actually is.  Through his friendship with Wesley (played brilliantly by Toby Leonard Moore) and his relationship with Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer) we see the human side of the Kingpin and learn his morally ambiguous views on how to save Hell’s Kitchen and where they were born from.  There is no getting away from the fact that Vincent D’Onofrio plays Fisk with such a good performance that you may find yourself liking his character more than Daredevil himself.  I know I for one did, at moments I even wondered why the show isn’t just called Kingpin instead, D’Onofrio steals the show that much.

Daredevil is a show about the epic battle of good vs. evil, big business vs. the community it feeds off and while this battle is focused on quite rightly there are still the other characters who have a part to play.  Daredevil shines because of its cast, with the likes of Rosario Dawson, Deborah Ann Woll, and Elden Henson they bring the human side of Matt Murdock out, just as Ayelet Zurer and Toby Leonard Moore play their parts in a way as to humanise the monster that is Wilson Fisk.  It has to be said though that Deborah Ann Woll and her character Karen Page of all the side characters has the best story arc but you’ll have to watch to see this, I’m not going to spoil it.

When watching the show I did have a nagging feeling that while I’m sure fans will love it, they still may start to tire of yet another gritty superhero television series.  I tend to feel though that Daredevil is perfectly suited to this style and there is a fine balance in the show between the fight for justice by lawful means, and the use of a fist to punctuate that battle.  I binge watched the series to write this review and was left with one conclusion, give me more Wilson Fisk right now…the first season is the birth of not only Daredevil but of Kingpin too.  Vincent D’Onofrio may have stolen the show with his character, and I for one am not complaining as he really is that good as Fisk.  Now my hope is that the show is enough of a success for season two to come, there are some epic battles for Daredevil in the future and we deserve to see them.

***** 5/5

Daredevil: Season 1 is available on Netflix now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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