As I sit here, fresh off a binge re-watch of Daredevil Season 1, mere hours before Season 2 is added to Netflix, I can't help but be in awe of what an absolute masterpiece it was. Marvel may have spent the last decade dominating the movie world with their colorful cinematic universe, but it is their darker exclusive Netflix series that is perhaps their greatest accomplishment.
Mere days after Season 1 premiered on Netflix in April last year, it was renewed for a second season that is set to premiere on Netflix in mere hours (at the time of writing). Furthermore, not long after that, it was announced as Netflix's biggest hit. Those accolades alone set Daredevil apart from just about everything else. However, I am going to explore how it has become Marvel's greatest product.
Daredevil was rife, and I mean rife, with character development. Complex, strong-willed and emotional characters were on screen for every second of each nearly hour-long episode. Charlie Cox delivered a powerhouse performance as lawyer-by-day, vigilante-by-night Matt Murdock. His authentic performance as the blind Attorney and vengeful hero was downright award-worthy. Furthermore, Vincent D'Onofrio gave us his soul in a show stealing performance as the troubled Wilson Fisk/Kingpin that will surely be remembered as one of his greatest performances. I remember sitting in the cinema during Jurassic World and mumbling "Vanessa" in D'Onofrio's unforgettable Fisk-voice when his character was on screen. His performance as the Kingpin was truly memorable.
There is a quote going around the superhero world, claiming that the greatest hero is defined by their greatest nemesis. Daredevil is indeed a fantastic hero, but perhaps this is because he had to overcome one of the greatest villain portrayals in history. Both Daredevil and Fisk were two different sides to the same coin — each fighting for their city, each willing to go to different immeasurable lengths for their cause. Furthermore, Foggy, Karen and Ben are all willing to do the same thing (although to a much lesser extent). Claire, like Matt, is fighting to stay alive in a very dark area, plagued by crime. Every single character in Daredevil is fighting for something and that makes it, without a doubt, Marvel's most compelling creation.
Daredevil's relatively slow narrative played out exceptionally. Through each episode, you literally get to see each piece of the puzzle fall into place — and fall into place they do. Whether it was Fisk's rise to power as the Kingpin or Daredevil's journey from "The Man in the Mask" to vigilante, to menace to vigilante again, and finally to hero, every story was written to perfection. He even underwent a well developed journey towards getting the new suit. Each episode added a little more to each storyline so that when you binge-watch them all back to back, you can watch a complete, well-told and captivating narrative. The Netflix platform really benefitted the series, since they did not have to fit each arc into a 40-minute episode or a two hour film. There was just enough room, enough time and enough tension built up in each episode to compliment the storyline perfectly.
Unique, Formidable Adversaries
Marvel has made a lot of great, high octane, entertaining films. However, lately some of their films have been criticized for their repetition of the "Marvel pattern." That pattern is simply this: the antagonist always seems to possess the exact same powers/gifts/technology as the protagonist. Thus, the films always feature a visually spectacular battle between the hero and the villain attempting to out-power the other one by using their identical abilities. We have seen this in Iron Man and Ant-Man. Thus, some have concluded that after many films of identical attributes, these formats have become uninteresting. I personally don't mind it.
However, Daredevil is a pure example of Marvel taking that tired "Marvel format" and smashing it to pieces in order to achieve something even more incredible than any of those great movies. Much like they accomplished in the phenomenal Agent Carter, Marvel employed human antagonists in Daredevil. Wilson Fisk is a troubled individual who started out with good intentions. The only problem was that he was willing to go any lengths to achieve these goals. Matt Murdock/Daredevil also had goals and good intentions. He, however, has different approaches, beliefs and a completely different way of life. The polar opposites of these two characters made for a fresh and compelling arc.
It's hard to believe that technically Daredevil is believed to be set in the same universe as The Avengers or Captain America because it is a completely different kind of superhero program. Like I said, those movies are great at what they do and they fit perfectly into their own universe. However, Daredevil's gritty tone makes it all the more compelling, all the more realistic. Much like DC did with Season 1 of Arrow, it is set in a very realistic city and there are no superpowered allies or adversaries in sight. Furthermore, being exclusive to Netflix has benefitted the series as it allows more time for conversations — it allows more time for fight sequences and anything else that they wanted to make time for. By making Daredevil all the more realistic, it makes the series all the more compelling. And by making Daredevil all the more gritty, it set the series apart from any of its other counterparts.
You knew this was going to be on the list, right? You had to have known! Earlier, I used the term "visually stunning" when talking about the battle sequences in the Marvel films. But when it comes to "visually stunning," Daredevil's fight sequences definitely take the crown. They have thrilled us, stunned us and some have even made us cringe — they were just so darn realistic! There have been thousands of amazing fight scenes in film and television over the years, but when you talk about near perfection, perhaps The Dark Knight trilogy and Arrow are the only two that come close to this. Remember that hallway scene? Never have I ever seen such a dynamic, perfectly choreographed and intense fight scene. Seeing a wounded Daredevil fighting with everything he has to save the boy was one of the greatest things about the series. But perhaps the most impressive thing about this scene was that it was done in one shot. But more than that, this stunning sequence took place in only in the second episode — Daredevil was making a statement, it was there to stay! And that statement was heard loud and clear!
Here you have just some of the reasons why Daredevil is so beloved. My words can only do so much, in order to truly understand, you should definitely watch it. And to those who have, be sure to check out Season 2 when it debuts at midnight in the US on March 18, 2016!