I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, Father. I’m asking forgiveness…for what I’m about to do. -Matt Murdock to Father Lantom
Daredevil is Netflix’s first foray into the Marvel-verse. The series tells the (origin) story of Matt Murdock of Hell’s Kitchen. Murdock, the son of the boxer, Battlin’ Jack Murdock was blinded as a child during an event they all refer to as “the incident”. There was chemical explosion in the neighborhood, Matt jumped to protect an elder man and the chemicals ended up in his eyes, this left him blinded, or as he describes it he sees a world on fire. A while later his father was killed in a bet.
At the orphanage a man called Stick comes over and takes Matt under his wing. He trains him in the martial arts and teaches him how to take advantage of his heightened senses. Once his training is completed, Stick leaves Matt.
Fast forward a couple of years Matt goes to law school and meets his best friend Foggy Nelson. When they graduate the two start a law firm. But Murdock has a second job, he’s a lawyer by day but a vigilante at night. Hell’s Kitchen has a problem with the Russian mob, the Chinese triad, a corrupt police force, and a rampant human trafficking industry.
So enough back story, in the first episode we meet Karen Page an employee at Union Allied. She meets up with a fellow employee, David, and the two plan on exposing the company. David gets killed and Karen is framed for his murder. She’s at the precinct and a guard tries to kill her but when he fails he is killed.
Matt and Foggy take her case. The whole situation is fishy so Matt investigates the case in his vigilante persona. Karen is eventually cleared and she works with Nelson and Murdock.
In the course of the next couple of episodes Matt battles human traffickers, chases criminals, and saves people’s lives. (There’s a brilliant court scene in one of the episodes). Matt interrogates one of the thugs he catches and eventually find out that there’s a major player in town: Wilson Fisk, also known as kingpin from the comics. But Fisk is a ghost and Matt can’t find him.
On the other hand Karen is investigating what happened to her and works with Ben Urich, a journalist in the towns newspaper. Wesley, fisk’s right hand, finds out that she’s investigating him with Carson. They get in trouble.
Fisk has an agreement with the Russian mafia, the Chinese triad, the Japanese mob, and a Leland Owlsley. Fisk brings down the Russian mafia to increase his share in the agreement while Matt brings down the Japanese and Chinese triad. All that’s left is Fisk.
But Fisk outfoxes him and comes out to the public. He presents himself as the city’s savior and a philanthropist. This makes bringing him down a nearly impossible task.
Matt using both personas, and with the help of Urich, Page, and Foggy finally get an insider from Fisk’s group-a corrupt detective. He spills the beans on them all which implicated Fisk and many city officials including cops, politicians, and journalists. Fisk is incarcerated and they transfer him to a safer facility; but he plays one final card he has an insider within the FBI. He breaks free but Matt follows him in his new suit and captures him.
“Be careful of the Murdock boys. They got the devil in ’em.”
BEST. SUPERHERO. SERIES. EVER!
Goodness this series puts all other superhero series to shame, no kidding. It is so freaking good I can say that enough. It sets a whole new standard for superhero characters on television. It’s like a film noir version of Daredevil, an origin story but one that doesn’t feel like a redundant origin story. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s gruesome, it’s realistic, and man is it good. It’s perfect. There is so much to analyze and think about in each episode it’s fantastic. It is also impossible to binge watch (not that I can binge watch) because there’s so much to see and think about.
Matt’s moves are sick; his flips and kicks and make you want to jump off rooftops and punch some bad guys. It’s also pretty realistic, his senses are heightened and he relies on them when he fights but it feels so real. One of the best scenes is when he’s walking down the street following one of the drug messengers, and he uses his walking stick until he walks into an alley and then all of a sudden he throws it away and starts climbing walls and flipping on rooftops. It sounds absurd but Charlie Cox is so good at portraying the role, you can see him hesitate for a split second to listen and feel his surroundings and then off he goes.
The realism of the show is one of its biggest strengths. In the fighting scenes, you can see Matt sway, he falls down, he’s injured, he bleeds, he’s not invincible. Claire (Rosario Dawson, who in my opinion is a fantastic actress) finds him in a dumpster half-dead and patches him up and then in another scene he’s a total wreck but fights the Russian mob yet unlike other shows he doesn’t win easily because he’s the hero, he misses a few swings, he falls down and barely escapes. Matt’s vulnerability and humanity is what makes the show so attractive and interesting. The only time where he was made into a superhuman of some sort is when he fights Nabu, he gets beaten up big time and then Fisk pounds the heck out of him but he still manages to escape through the window, jump into a body of water (I’m not sure what it was exactly) reach the shore and get home. I know he’s daredevil but c’mon if you’re gonna have him escape like that at least tone down the beating.
Another cool thing about Daredevil is that they don’t call him Daredevil and he doesn’t wear the red devil suit until the last episode; the same goes for Wilson Fisk, they don’t call him Kingpin at all. It’s a fresh take on the superhero genre which makes it attractive for non comic fans as well as those of us who loves comics.
The character of Foggy Nelson started off being the mopey flat sidekick but eventually he develops and becomes a more interesting character. He’s there for the comic relief mainly but also to put things into perspective, and by I mean he that gives us a normal person perspective of a dark world with mobs and vigilantes. The character of Karen Page takes the same route, she starts off as being a damsel in distress, it was as if they only put her there because they needed to have a female character. However in episode three or so she becomes more important as she embarks on her own mission of uncovering who’s behind Union Allied. Page also makes some pretty bold moves by the end of the season that make her pretty badass but I won’t spoil it. But if we’re talking in terms of female characters I still think Claire Temple, Murdock’s nurse friend, is a stronger and more interesting character.
Speaking of Temple there’s this theory (which for the life of me I can’t remember where I saw it), that says Claire Temple might be the Phil Coulson of the series. By that it means she’s going to be the connecting thread between the Defenders (Daredevil, AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist).
Now onto Kingpin, Wilson Fisk. He doesn’t have a mind controlling scepter or steriod-chemical like substance pumped into his body that makes him invincible (I’m looking at you Deathstroke). He’s a real life villain, he’s got the money and henchmen, he has the meaty fists and can decapitate a guy with his car’s door but other than that he’s human. We are even given Fisk’s background and he has a love interest, we know his intentions and his thoughts; all of this makes him such an attractive yet despicable villain. You can understand him, even sympathize, but you still hate him and you hate yourself for that. It’s morally and emotionally confusing.
One of the best things about this series and what makes it better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is that it doesn’t rely too much on the Avengers movies or the MCU. It isn’t bounded by the events of the MCU and the creators allow the show to reach it’s potential. It slyly references the events of the MCU and the heroes but it doesn’t fully rely on it for its narrative.
Even if you’re not a fan of superheroes and comics, watch this show it is so good. It doesn’t start feeling like a comic show until midway through when ninjas start coming in, but it’s still good. Definitely worth watching!
Word of advice, if you’re squeamish and you can’t handle some gory violent scenes you might want to skip a few scenes, but don’t let that stop you from watching it. It’s freaking fantastic.
The Daredevil comics are one of Marvel’s best publications, check them out here:
Daredevil, Vol. 1