Forget Ben Affleck. Netflix’s foray into a comic book franchise is a home run. Daredevil is a completely bad ass crime drama (That just happens to be about a superhero).
Ok, wow… I was honestly just going to not watch it. I read a few of the Daredevil comics back in my Marvel glory days, but I was mostly a Spiderman/X-Men kinda kid, so I could tell you that he’s a blind ninja with super hearing and no fear, but I couldn’t tell you how many of his girlfriends have died over the decades (It’s all of them I think). With my 8 year-old’s recent obsession with CW’s The Flash (unwatchable as far as I’m concerned), and that damn horrible Ben Affleck movie I sat through 10 years ago… I was less than enthused when I saw a reboot of DD was out.
But it’s Netflix, so when my brilliant wife suggested it, I said “sure, why not?” I figured what else am I gonna do on an Friday night? Watch Dateline?
Well, needless to say it was great. That Guy From Boardwalk Empire (Charlie Cox, minus the Irish accent) does a bang up job of capturing a uniquely complicated character, and coming across as both a likable lawyer and a fierce crime-fighting ninja at the same time. His smirk and his sunglasses are exactly what I remember from the late 80s Marvel era. It’s kind of a Law and Order: Superhero. During the day we get cops, crooks, and everything in between… And at night we get non-caped crusading at its bloody best. Daredevil’s fighting style is vicious. It’s exciting to watch, like something exploding… A mix of boxing and what looks like jujitsu make for very hard-hitting, Bane-esque moves.
The show takes place in post-Avengers New York, specifically Hells Kitchen, and so far there have been more than a few tie-ins… But this is not Agent Carter, or even Agents of SHIELD… This is a bloody, and brutal window on the Marvel universe. The son of a boxer, Matt Murdock and partner/lawyer Foggy Nelson are fledgling local boys turned defense attorneys, and in the first episode they stumble across a murder case involving True Blood‘s Deborah Ann Woll and a local mob front she happens to work for. The dialogue is witty and the characters are well realized… And Cox shines as the troubled vigilante who can’t outrun the choices he has made.
Daredevil is Marvels answer to Batman, and creator Drew Goddard (Lost, Alias) capitalizes on this. It practically screams The Dark Knight with its long shadows, tall buildings, and nameless henchmen. The story is good, the characters fleshed out and funny, but what really sets Daredevil apart from any other Super Show around is the choreography of the fights. I haven’t seen hand to hand combat like this outside of a movie screen ever. There’s a particularly cool hallway fight in the second episode that looks like it was peeled straight out of The Raid, 1 or 2.
One of the things that bothers me the most about PG-13 “comic book movie” violence is that way it glamorizes that violence. From lone super heroes taking on armies of computer generated bad guys with all manner of destruction and yet no blood or death. It teaches kids a completely unrealistic, and frankly dangerous view of violence: that it’s safe. In Daredevil the violence is disturbing… As it should be. Daredevil gets beat, stabbed, and thrown around A LOT, and these aren’t safe fights by any means. Instead, it’s as if we’re really watching two (or more) men pound the shit out of each other… They get tired, they bleed, they collapse, they die. How very anti-Disney of Disney…
Anyway, I’m impressed… And I’m totally in. It’s about time we had an action show worth it’s salt. Plus the opening credits are the coolest thing I have ever seen.