Netflix’ Daredevil Proves to Be True to Comic Form (spoiler free)

After having binged watched Daredevil on Netflix, I finally return to the land of the living all the better for it.  Indeed, the show is darker in tone than it’s cinema predecessor and for those who might be squeamish about blood and broken bones you may have to cover your eyes at least once an episode (or more).  But the storytelling was superb and the acting was well done.  Overall, I gave it 5-stars on Netflix’ ratings.

Daredevil takes place after the events in The Avengers. Lots of references to rebuilding New York and in particular Hell’s Kitchen where the action takes place, as well as vague superhero references, make it obvious where in the timeline this show resides. Initial pictures of Charlie Cox as the horned hero made me skeptical at best if he could pull this off.  He didn’t seem to have the physical presence needed to be both a convincing Matt Murdock AND an imposing Daredevil.  But he did.  As Matt Murdock, he reminded so often of Frank Miller’s iconic take on the character in the comics.  His dress, his stance, his mannerisms all were reminiscent of the Matt I knew already.  But his persona of Daredevil was equally spot on.  The ways in which he moves throughout the city, the angle of his shoulders, the way he wears his costume all rang true.  Charlie Cox makes you empathize with Matt.  Makes you feel his pain as he battles evil on the streets, makes you feel his internal conflict about whether or not to cross certain moral boundaries, makes you feel his loneliness as he carries the burden of his secret with him always.

Charlie Cox plays a convincing Matt Murdock in Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix
Charlie Cox plays a convincing Matt Murdock in Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix

Elden Henson does an equally convincing job as the somewhat portly, very affable, best friend and law partner, Foggy Nelson.  Too often, Foggy is treated as an aside in other media.  Although important to Matt, Foggy is often a little bit of a dunce – two steps behind his amazingly brilliant partner.  So much so that you wonder why Matt doesn’t just ditch Foggy after a while.  But in this show, Foggy is much more like Samwise Gamgee to Matt’s Frodo Baggins.  Foggy grounds Matt, keeps him from going off the deep-end, and reminds him that his relationships don’t make him weak, but in fact are the core of his strength.  I also love that Foggy’s ex-girlfriend is extremely attractive!  So often, the “chubby best friend” gets relegated to be the brunt of the joke, the guy who ends up with the substantially less attractive girl, but Foggy is a player in his own right.  He is also intelligent, gritty, and brave in his own way.  All of which makes him believable as Matt’s partner.  Needless to say, showrunner Steven DeKnight really gets the characterization believable and right.

Foggy and Karen sharing a moment in the streets of Hell's Kitchen
Foggy and Karen sharing a moment in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen

The last member of our star trio is Karen Page, Matt and Foggy’s office assistant and in many ways partner and root of the show.  Deborah Ann Woll is not only gorgeous on the screen, but she is bold, brave, and smart as well.  There were times I was concerned Marvel would stick to the tried and true damsel in distress and while Karen does get in trouble from time-to-time, she is certainly no passive character.  Karen is capable and has a hidden past which we only see glimpses of in the show.  But she plays a wonderful love interest (and not a typical one either).  Her arc and where she ends up at the end of these 13 episodes is not as predictable as you might think which only makes this even more worthwhile to watch.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk - an imposing figure to say the least
Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk – an imposing figure to say the least

Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk was done well, but it felt like the future Kingpin of Crime was weaker than his comic counterpart.  He seemed to answer to Madame Gao (another underworld figure) and didn’t seem to be the undisputed leader of his criminal cabal.  In fact, he is warned of his weakness in different episodes.  His agenda to “fulfill the city’s potential” seemed contrived and an excuse for his violence.  The Kingpin from the comics needs no excuse – he simply does as he sees fit because he is the Kingpin.  That isn’t D’Onofrio’s fault.  He does an amazing job of portraying this broken man who expresses his pain through violence.  And they show did a great job of transforming his physical presence onto the small screen.  Wilson is imposing and his body, while large, is also fast and strong.  Perhaps his role will be reprised in the future and we will see more of his character and how he develops into the ruthless person we know from the pages of Daredevil.  

The one big drawback was now that I’ve watched it, I have no more Daredevil to look forward to.   There are many questions the show left unanswered, but when will we have answers to them?  If someone knows, no one is saying.  Given that this show is simply one of a series of shows, I don’t know if we’ll see a season two any time in the near future – but I certainly hope so.  It is a show well worth watching!

Update March 2016: Daredevil Season 2 is about to begin on March 18!

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