Netflix has decided to take on a shadowy corner of the huge Marvel Universe with Daredevil; the ears often appreciate the fight scenes better than the eyes and the cavalcade of the sickening juicy splash of crushed skulls and crunching bones in the extra-violent beatings in the show that signals Marvel’s transformation from the Kodachrome ka-pow! of its high-budgeted movies towards a more adult-oriented and grittier production. While Daredevil no doubt has transcended from the super-hero genre, this simmering, smart and human-scale crime drama has lots of grist for fan girls and boys.
Played by Charlie Cox, the vigilante/blind lawyer Matt Murdock is the Daredevil of the comic world who has achieved great fame (everyone would like to forget the Ben Affleck movie in 2003). Cox is the right man to lead the latest charge of Marvel on the small screen. The series made its debut on Friday on Netflix and it is the first of the four standalone series that have been created by the streaming service with ‘outsider’ superheroes who are dedicated to fighting crime in a neighborhood rather than an intergalactic or global scale. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist will be released later this year and the four of these superheroes will combine their efforts in a series called ‘Defenders’.
Although the stories of ‘Avengers’ superheroes and Daredevil and Co do intersect as they show New York recovering from the extraterrestrial battle that took place in the last Avengers movie, but they will not interact. Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), the crime lord, has made some very detailed and specific plans for development of the Big Apple and has some extralegal ways of accomplishing them. Sure, redevelopment isn’t exactly a sexy and interesting plot, but that doesn’t mean that there is any lack of drug dealers and human traffickers to deal with. And of course, we are waiting for a showdown at the meeting of the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
Murdock is thwarting Fisk and his band of cartels. He is the one-man cleanup who puts on a black cap pulled over his eyes and goes out at night for patrolling Hell’s Kitchen. One downside of the show not being like Marvel movies is the lack glibness, although the longtime pal and chipper law partner of Murdock, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), does give some comic relief. Daredevil isn’t very procedural like Gotham that has a similar theme of a corrupted city. Instead, it leans towards a bit more serialized as Nelson and Murdock take on a number of legal cases that are a lost-cause.
We are introduced to Karen Page (Deborah Ann Wall) in the first one, who is a secretary pinned with the murder of a co-worker and who joins the law firm later on and has a large role in the Daredevil mythos, thereby shedding light on Fisk’s plans slowly. The show takes it time giving out Murdock’s story and that’s where its realism doesn’t work with it. Until Murdock provided an explanation about his superpowers in a few episodes, suspending disbelief in the effectively and uniquely staged scenes of hand-to-hand combat was rather difficult.
Regardless of that, Cox’s Murdock has an actual vulnerability, which applies spiritually and physically. Spiritually in the sense that he struggles with the devil within and physically because he does get hurt and has to go to nurse Clare Temple (Rosario Dawson) for almost constant TLC. There is a point when the Daredevil confides to a villain that delivering rough justice is a source of pleasure for him. When Claire hears this, she refuses to believe it, but you wonder if it is true because that’s the power of Cox.