I can’t really say I’m a fan of the Daredevil character. I know Ben Affleck gets a lot of crap about his 2003 portrayal, but I felt it was kind of honest. It was kind of not good. That said, I absolutely enjoyed the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. There are spoilers here, but come on. It’s Daredevil. Here are some of my thoughts.
The Burglar vs. Ninja Claus.
Some things really stood out about this particular Daredevil. It was gritty and it ditched the dumb red suit. I liked that the series opened with a DIY black suit, reminiscent of a cat burglar. It highlighted a utilitarian character, making due, and drew a visual connection to the illegal nature of the vigilante archetype. It was shrouded in shadows. It hid from the police, and not the street thugs the character frequently dispatched. It was dark enough to make even the Dark Knight proud. It was worthy.
And then they went red. It is kind of the coup de grace of the origin story, which is essentially what the first season is. Both Daredevil and Kingpin rise to sinister glory. The suit isn’t terrible or anything, but I can’t help but feel like in attempting to make what feels like an arbitrary connection to the source material, they reduced the utilitarian suit to a trope and deprived it of what I loved. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I was disappointed with the final suit.
Kingpin and his rise to villainy.
Kingpin is a fantastic character. There isn’t a Kingpin shot in the series where he doesn’t completely steal and command the scene. Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance alone is well worth the price of admission to this show. He captures the power and rage of Kingpin, barely tempered with an unusual, but relatable compassion.
I can’t help but see this image as an example of that relationship. His unwavering pursuit to connect and to feel, his imposing presence, and ultimately, the almost blank canvas: His failure to do so. I find I have a great deal of sympathy for this character, almost to the point of not feeling that he’s a villain. I think that makes a FANTASTIC villain. At the end of the day, both Kingpin and Daredevil are kind of equal, but different, parts villain and savior.
I think that’s why this show works, where the material before it did not for me.
Foggy McBottomsnoot and Ninja Claus.
There are a lot of stand out relationships in this show. They kind of drive it, actually. But the pinnacle of that would have to be the onscreen chemistry between Foggy and Murdock and eventually, Foggy and Daredevil. There hasn’t been a more believable onscreen friendship, complete with misunderstandings and deep history, that I can think of than these guys. Somehow, these two actors manage to deliver the best, and somewhat enviable screen-friendship that I’ve seen. It persists in their flashbacks, their work intermingling, and even the betrayal, as Foggy discovered Murdock’s alter-ego.
They tried to duplicate this with Kingpin’s relationships, which had it worked would have offered a symmetry, further balancing the characters duality. They tried to evoke that between Kingpin and his bromance Wesley, and the femme fatale Vanessa. Both suitable characters, but it kind of fell flat. Kingpin was too good at not connecting.
Great brutal combat sequences.
The fight sequences are pretty strong. They range from brutal and gritty to innovative and artsy. It’s kind of hard to really quantify them, so I’ll show you instead. There’s a clear homage to classic action sequences in films like Old Boy and Hard Boiled.
Ultimately, I enjoyed it. It’s easy to pick apart small details, especially since I’m already predisposed to disliking the source material, but even with its flaws I’m looking forward to next season’s performances by this cast. They were strong this season.