After what's felt like years of waiting, Daredevil is finally streaming. And there hasn't been a single show I was more excited for since it was announced. I've been a fan of the Man Without Fear since I was introduced to comic books. So, I walked into this having very high expectations. And it delivered beyond what I had hoped. This show is a roller coaster. It keeps twisting and turning at speeds that makes it a thrill just to watch. There are so many reasons why this became my new favorite TV show after just the first episode. Here's my best attempt at telling you, with the least amount of spoilers, why Daredevil is a game-changer for Marvel, and why you should be watching it.
Now, going into this, I was anticipating the full Marvel experience, in that, they would take advantage of the fact that this story exists within the Marvel universe. I thought there'd be lots of characters from the movies that I know and love. I could not have been more wrong. The only thing that Daredevil borrows from the Marvel movies is the alien attack on New York in The Avengers. Otherwise, the show stands completely on it's own. This was a good call, because if they had done it differently, Iron Man would've taken the spotlight from Daredevil and Fisk. This way, the show had the space they needed to let this setting and these characters grow in their own time.
Another reason I'm glad the Avengers didn't come to play in Hell's Kitchen is that this show wouldn't have been half as dark and gritty as it turned out. By the second episode, there was murder, prison violence, drug manufacturing, and a gut-wrenching method of torture that I can't even begin to speak of. All of these are subjects that few Marvel projects have attempted. This story shows that even though there are superheroes running around, the world is still a dark and scary place for us mortals. To paraphrase one character, Daredevil brings to light the dark corners of the Marvel universe.
Of all the aspects that make this show stand out, it's definitely the fight choreography that caught me off-guard. At this point in time, after witnessing countless action movies, I'm used to fight scenes where the protagonist only throws one or two punches on the guy, and he's instantly knocked out. So I was relieved to see that Daredevil's foes actually got back up after being knocked down. It made the scenes more realistic, as every fight looked like a true challenge for Daredevil. There's one fight scene at the end of episode two that's heavily influenced by The Raid. It cannot be missed. And the best part of the fights are that the protagonist, Daredevil, get's beat up. A lot. And like I said before, it makes sense. Just because he knows more martial arts than most of his opponents, doesn't mean that they can't ever land a punch on him. But it doesn't lower the quality of the action. Far from it. It makes every time he knocks out a foe that much more significant. It shows that no matter how many times he gets knocked down, he always gets back up.
If there's any actor that looks the most like their comic book counterpart, it's Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. Every time he spoke I got goosebumps. There were episodes where I truly sympathized with him, and at one point I actually questioned whether Daredevil's way of saving the city was better than Fisk's way. Vincent seemed to approach this character not as a villain or a monster, as an everyday human being trying to do the right thing.
Charlie Cox is another standout among the cast. His performance as Matt Murdock is utterly remarkable. Granted, he didn't have much competition (no offense to Ben Affleck), but he still deserves a round of applause for it. Like D'Onofrio did with Fisk, Cox did a great job of bringing a more grounded version to 'The Man Without Fear'. Even though Matt has the ability to use his other four senses to replace his sight, he's just a man of flesh and blood like the rest of us. He gets beat up, and defeated from time to time. It makes him that much more real, but it also makes him more of a hero.
But the supporting cast deserves their round of applause just as much as Cox and D'Onofrio. Rosario Dawson gives an interesting take on Claire Temple. A typical character type might have shied away from Matt Murdock's nefarious vigilante ways, but not her. Dawson presents her as a strong woman, one that less needy of the relationship with Matt Murdock. Elden Henson, who plays Foggy Nelson, shows a new version of Matt Murdock's partner-in-law, one that I ended up enjoying more than his comic book persona. Foggy Nelson has always been an annoying character to me, but I loved Henson's Foggy, because he provided that much needed comedic side to the story. And Deborah Ann Woll- as Karen Page- was a character I surprisingly ended up rooting for. I expected her to be this helpless damsel in distress that falls in love with Daredevil, and goes on pointless quests to find her hero. But it wasn't that at all. The events of the first episode shape her into a fearless and independent woman, and she ends up chasing after the people who have done her and the city wrong. She finds her own purpose, and it's exciting to see her walk that path.
Lastly, the thing that made this show perfect, was that it wasn't a superhero story. It was a crime drama first. It's not about a superhero defending his city from the supernatural evils among him. It's about a man trying to save his city from very real criminals that are thriving off people's suffering. And he tends to dabble along the line that separates good from bad in order to achieve this goal. It's not something only Marvel fans can enjoy watching. Marvel brought 'The Man Without Fear' back, and they did him justice.
Plus, and I'm completely serious about this, the title sequence gives Game of Thrones a run for it's money.