WARNING: This post may contain mild spoilers, if you've not yet finished watching the show, or haven't started it yet, read at your own risk.
Marvel's [Daredevil](movie:47230) premiered on Netflix on April 10th - 10 days ago, and already half the world managed to binge-watch the entire season in one day, because given the option - why would you not?
Starring Charlie Cox in the titular role, the Netflix series is a happy departure from the poor writing of the 2003 film starring Ben Affleck. The acting is better, the writing is better, and more importantly the action is top-notch.
As I was watching the show, it occured to me that there was something drastically different about it. Something that made it stand out against everything else we've seen from Marvel and the MCU.
Marvel seem to have a pretty solid formula going for everything they've put out so far, it's easily recognisable, and clearly it works for them, but for whatever reason, it seems to me that they took a departure from that for their first Netflix series.
Everything about this show, from its marketing, to its writing, the look, the stunts - it all felt more gritty, more dark...
It's pretty much a fact that DC's Television Line-Up, trumped Marvel's on any given day of the week (this is coming from a huge Marvel fan), but with this new "Daredevil" series, it seems to me as though Marvel have have taken a step up. They've upgraded from the typically somewhat lighthearted, fun, family friendly formula, and have, in my opinion, taken a leaf out of DC's Television Manual, to produce a show that is completely and utterly satisfying across the board.
The stylised posters gave us all an indication of what we could expect from the show. With the city in the show "Hells Kitchen" being such a huge and important aspect to the show and its titular character, Matt Murdock, we got marketing akin to that of CW's "[Arrow](series:720988)" and "Starling City" and Fox's "[Gotham](series:1127075)" and "Gotham City". Right off the bat, we see our hero(es) and the city they're all fighting so desperately to save.
The writing in this show is another aspect that had me thinking about how similiar to DC's Television line-up it was. Most of what Marvel have produced in the last few years, all uses humour quite frequently - possibly to lighten any dark undertones and still keep it all somewhat family friendly (that'd be your fault Disney) - which in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it's always nice to take a departure from the norm. This new Netflix original series isn't necessarily in need of being family friendly - so the humour that we've come to expect from Marvel is dropped slightly, and attributed mainly to Foggy (he makes a thinly veiled Captain America reference somewhere near the middle of the season - funny and in character) - because, well, that's his character.
They've cut the "let's give every character at least one funny one-liner" in favour of keeping it in line with actual character development. i.e - if the character's not a funny character to begin with, don't go expecting him to give you a funny line or two - he won't. And that's what sets this apart from everything else we've seen.
The Look / Stunts
Most of the interesting fight scenes within this show take place at night, obviously - you can't go out fighting people as your alter ego during the day now can you? - and it's these scenes that, for me, were so reminscent of Season 2 of CW's "Arrow". That show's always been known for its amazing stunt sequences, and if you follow Stephen Amell on Social Media, then you've probably seen behind the scenes video's of him training for these artfully choreographed scenes.
In my opinion, before watching "Daredevil", "Arrow" had some of the best, if not the best fight sequences, but after seeing the Netflix original series, I have to contest that Daredevil's fight sequences are definitely on par with Arrow, if not better.
At the end of episode 2, is a huge fight scene in a hallway, artfully filmed in one continous shot, it sets you up for the level of stunt work you can expect from the rest of the show. It's briliantly choreographed, and even more brilliantly shot! You can check out how they did so here.
The other thing to mention about the fighting, is how realistic it is. A lot of times, productions go overboard on the sound effects for a punch or a kick, but with Daredevil, every kick, every hit, feels, looks and sounds real. When a character is getting the living sh*t beat out of them, you feel it. Not to the extent that the show is overly graphic (although that wouldn't bother me at all), but to the effect that it is realistic, over being theatric.
Parkour for the win!
Parkour seems to be a huge part of being a vigilante, and just like "Arrow", Marvel's Daredevil is slightly obsessed with it. Towards the end of the season, in the last two or three episodes, is the longest parkour scene yet and it's fantastic to see. Matt hears the stick of a blind woman walking down the street, and zero's in on the sound before hearing her get into a car. What follows is one of few action scenes in the day, and what is basically parkour-porn for any one obessessed with it. Whilst he initially strolls down the street, moving his stick from side to side whilst in the presence of normal civillians, the second he reaches an alleyway, he literally dashes the stick aside - tossing it way off behind him, before jumping straight up onto a building.
Because F*ck YEAH!
When your city needs you to parkour, you parkour hard. Get 'em Murdock!
This can be a hard one for comic book adaptations to get right. Existing fans of the source material already know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. We already know the character's motivations and convictions for their actions and decisions. We already know their back story and where they're headed, but just because we know that, doesn't mean we don't need to see it.
"Daredevil" does a brilliant job of establishing the characters, and building them up as the season continues. You're not presented with your characters in their final form straight-away (i.e here's the villain, here's the victim, here's the hero), but rather we start off seeing them as they are naturally, and build to seeing what they've become at the end of the season as a result of things that have happened.
Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) is our Villain for this, but he's not our only villian. Rather than introduce him right off the bat at the beginning, the audience become aquainted with the character through the eyes of his many accomplices (who act as our initial villains for the beginning of the show) and the actions he has others carry out on his behalf. We hear of our main antagonist, but don't see him until the time is right. And even then, the show continues to build upon his character, showing his most harsh and psychotic of sides, as well as his softer side around Vanessa, and his traumatic and troubled upbringing via flashbacks.
This flashback theme is also done more towards the end of the season when things between Foggy and Matt get a little tense, giving us the chance to see how they became friends, how long they've actually really been friends, and a deeper look inside the origins of their friendship.
All in all, it's clear to me that whilst Marvel's formula has worked thus far, they've chosen to shake things up a bit with "Daredevil". Its formula is fresh and new - something different for Marvel, something we haven't really seen from them before, and maybe even something we weren't expecting. It's gritty, it's real, the fighting and stunts are badass, the humour is reserved for only the most humourous of characters by nature, every character is developed - including the small ones, and Charlie Cox is an adorable man with an adorable face, and one hell of a goddamn Daredevil.
Vincent D'Onofrio is absolutely outstanding as Wilson Fisk (Kingpin), and really this show, in my eyes, can't be faulted at all.
Well, maybe on the fact that there's not a Season 2 yet, but we'll give them a second to get that together.
p.s who else is slightly in love with the opening credits? Aren't they absolutely stunning???!