Last year we learned that Marvel and Netflix were working together to bring several comic book properties to the streaming service: Daredevil, AKA Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. Daredevil premiered earlier this month to great critical praise and the highest viewership of any Netflix original series yet. I personally believe the series is a stand-out among both superhero movies and superhero television shows (of which there are more and more each season) and here is why:
A Focused Arc
Daredevil is special in that it’s 13-episode run largely focused on a single story arc, Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) taking down the secretive Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio). Almost 13 hours is dedicated to taking down a single villain and that’s unheard of in superhero movies. The Iron Man trilogy clocks in at under 9 hours, and in that series we have Tony Stark taking down 3 different villains in 3 different arcs. By allowing Daredevil to take it’s time and spend the entire season chiseling away at a single conflict, we get a slow burn that is infinitely more satisfying.
Quantity as Well as Quality
As mentioned above, the slow burn of the series is a real gift that produces tension by the pound. There’s no rushing any plot point. We see Fisk’s operation slowly but surely become weaker due to Daredevil’s presence. We see Fisk slowly deteriorate as his confidence and resources fade. I think back to Captain America: The First Avenger, where we see Captain America taking down Hydra base after Hydra base, but the scenes are reduced to a single montage. Imagine getting to see Cap take down each base, and getting to witness the Red Skull grow more and more frustrated and more and more unhinged with each failure. That is the gift we’re granted in Daredevil. There’s also the fact that with 13 hours of content in the first season, we have effectively spent more time with Daredevil than we have with any other hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Think about that, and then think about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going strong for seven years!
Setting the Precedent for Street-Level Heroes, and Spider Man
Marvel comics aren’t just filled with heroes stopping world domination schemes, a lot of it takes place on the streets. Daredevil isn’t taking down a maniacal super-villain, he’s taking down a mobster. He doesn’t fight mercenaries or costumed henchmen, he fights street thugs. Not only does this dynamic pave the way for the upcoming Netflix heroes, but also for Spider-Man. While Spider-Man is best known for his conflict with super powered adversaries, he himself often finds himself fighting these common criminal/organized crime types; a dichotomy I hope is reflected in his solo movie in 2017.