In The 1960’s, Stan Lee created a character named Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer from Hell’s Kitchen (a district in New York City) who gains super senses after a truck containing chemicals spills and splashes on his eyes leaving him blind (not technically, his vision serves as a radar for echolocation) since he was a kid. After his father was murdered, a blind old man named “Stick” teaches him to defend himself from impending danger. A few years later, Matt moonlights as a vigilante known as “Daredevil” to protect his home. The character is similar to Batman except he’s blind and not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist like Tony Stark.
Over the years, Daredevil went on to become one of Marvel’s notable characters appearing in crossovers in both comics and television with Spider-Man, The Avengers, The Punisher just to name a few. Like many characters, Daredevil is featured in merchandise including t-shirts, action figures, costumes and video games appearances (most notably Marvel Ultimate Alliance and its sequel)
When Fox’s X-Men movie proved to be a huge success among critics, fans and movie goers alike, movie studios attempted to capitalize the success of X-Men starting with Sony producing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film earning critical praise from fans and critics as well as making a lot of money. During development of X-Men’s second installment, X2: X-Men United, Fox produced a Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck as the character, but it turned out to be a miscalculation labeled as a carbon copy of Spider-Man.
After Marvel & Disney made a string of hit films set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, (MCU for short) They’ve decided to expand the franchise into television territory beginning with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D airing on ABC. Both companies confirmed Fox delivered the film rights to Daredevil allowing him to be a part of the MCU. Producer/Showrunner Drew Goddard (Lost, Cloverfield, The Martian) pitched to Marvel about a potential Daredevil reboot as a darker & grittier crime drama based on Frank Miller’s comics, especially the limited series, “The Man Without Fear.” Producers approved on the idea but they couldn’t get enough room for Daredevil to factor in in with members of The Avengers. However, Marvel offered Netflix a partnership to co-produce shows set in the MCU. Netflix accepted Marvel’s offer. Thus, Daredevil marks the beginning of the MCU’s gritty side.
Daredevil’s first season streamed in 2015. It received positive reviews from television critics, fans and viewers alike. As a result of Season 1’s critical success, Marvel & Netflix co-produced shows including Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist & The Punisher. Each show excluding Punisher, fleshes out a character’s background, origins, their allies, strengths & weaknesses to set up a limited series called, “The Defenders.”
Marvel & Netflix confirmed that Season 3 is intended to stream in October 19, 2018. In response to the news, I’ve decided to share what’s good or bad about Daredevil.
The following review doesn’t show any potential SPOILERS. If you’re never seen the whole season, feel free to read this article.
The Entire Season
Legal: Charlie Cox did a fantastic job as the titular character.
Other Cast Members including Vincent D’Onofrio, Elden Henson, Deborah Ann Woll, Vondie Curtis-Hall & Rosario Dawson all did a great for their respective performances.
Fun Fact: Prior to participating in Daredevil, Rosario Dawson also co-starred in films related to Frank Miller’s works such as Sin City, The Lego Batman Movie, (a parody of Batman’s mythos) Clerks II (Kevin Smith wrote an eight part Daredevil storyline called, “Guardian Angel) & voiced Batman’s ally Wonder Woman in a few animated DC films. By the way, both Rosario Dawson & Vincent D’onofrio co-starred in separate Men In Black films.
Action Sequences are realistically brutal than the MCU films. If you have a weak stomach, be sure to equip a barf bag, because there’s gonna be some dead bodies. Don’t expect this series to be your typical superhero show featuring epic grand scale battles.
Practical Effects & Stunts were heavily used to bring many Action Sequences to life. Visual Effects were used sparingly.
Season 1’s storyline is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Man Without Fear.”
As the season progresses, we learn about Matt & Fisk’s origin stories dating back to their childhood. Both their ideologies parallel towards each other, the only difference in their illegal activities is in fact Matt refuses to murder a criminal only to fracture bones while Fisk is willing to kill anybody who gets in his way.
Daredevil’s black costume is straight outta Frank Miller’s limited series, “The Man Without Fear.” If you’re wondering where his traditional red costume isn’t showing up, well this is Matt’s early years as Daredevil with less experience who’s getting use to his double life as a lawyer and vigilante.
The Tone for the series is darker with dead bodies, broken bones, nasty bruises, brutal fight scenes etc.
Steven S. DeKnight (Starz’ Spartacus) did an excellent job taking a big gamble staying true to Daredevil’s mythology.
According to Steven S. DeKnight, the series is influenced by films such as Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon & The French Connection. Besides films, he stated that The Wire is a primary influence for Daredevil.
Season 1 takes place after The Battle Of NYC from The Avengers.
Illegal: Cinematography suffers a bad case of Shaky Cam.
Product Placement featuring brands such as Sony, U-Haul, Coors Light, Samsung, Dell & Ford. Upon watching each episode, they’re forgotten. I’m giving this con a pass.
Episode 1: Into The Ring
Positive: The name of Episode 1’s title has a double meaning. Matt’s father was a boxer. Now that he’s a lawyer/vigilante he enters a ring to fight crime.
The first fight scene indicates we’re going into darker and edgier territory of the MCU we’ve never seen before.
Matt & Foggy establish their practice in a murder case linked to organized crime.
Negative: Shaky Cam used in certain scenes.
Episode 2: Cut Man
Positive: Episode 2’s title is a reference Matt who got badly injured after a plan went awry.
One scene pays homage to American Psycho.
Even though Matt has barley recovered, he’s still a capable fighter beating up thugs. In my opinion, I considered the hallway fight scene as the infamous scene from Season 1. I’m giving it Bonus Points.
Negative: Shaky Cam’s used again in a few scenes.
Episode 3: Rabbit In A Snowstorm
Positive: Matt & Foggy work on a case.
Inside Urich’s office, you can see a newspaper attached to a wall with the headline labeled “Battle Of NY,” which is the climatic battle from The Avengers, indicating that the show takes place after the events of Avengers.
An unexpected death scene occurred.
Episode 3’s final scene ends on a high note, setting up what’s yet to come.
Negative: Camera continues to suffer from Shaky Cam.
We finally get to see an enemy from Spider-Man & Daredevil’s Rouge Gallery.
Episode 4: In The Blood
Positive: Somebody said “Stranger things right?” A year later, Netflix aired The Duffer Brothers’ series of the same name earning universal acclaim.
The Russian Brothers reminded me of Hector’s (the old man who rings his bell) twin nephews from Breaking Bad.
Episode 4’s ending just got “messy.”
Episode 5: World Of Fire
Positive: Episode 5’s title is named after what Matt sees from his point of view.
A character said, “ The machines will take over.” Perhaps a subtle inside joke towards Avengers: Age Of Ultron?
An unpredictable moment happened towards the end of Episode 5.
Negative: More Shaky Cam is used again. Was the cameraman on Red Bull during filming?
Episode 6: Condemned
Positive: Matt hiding in an abandoned warehouse from the cops is a nod to Reservoir Dogs.
Fisk uses his connections an in attempt to defeat Matt as a sign that the stakes are slowly rising.
Negative: Seriously? Why is the cinematography still shaky?
Episode 7: Stick
Positive: The title of the seventh episode is named after Matt’s mentor.
We get to see how Matt acquired his fighting techniques as well as controlling his enhanced senses from Stick.
Stick visits Matt to tell him why he’s back in Hell’s Kitchen.
A fight scene/training session involving Matt & Stick.
Matt receives a “present” he’ll use for the rest of the series.
Episode 7’s ending sets up what’s yet to come in Season 2.
Negative: Do I need to remind everybody that the cinematographer’s been drinking Monster Energy as he’s struggling to keep the camera still?
Episode 8: Shadows In The Glass
Positive: Episode 8’s title is a reference to the Natalie Wood & Warren Beatty film Splendor In The Grass. By the way, this is my mom’s favorite film, I wrote a full spoiler review, if you’ve seen it, go ahead and check it out.
Flashbacks shows us how Fisk kept his father’s cuff links.
Kingpin’s childhood is pretty screwed up leading to what he has become.
This episode pays tribute to Henry Hill’s childhood from Goodfellas. Most notably Martin Scorsese’s use of The Rolling Stones, whom he’s a fan of the English rock band. He also did documentary about them.
The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” plays during Fisk’s boyhood years. The song appeared on the Sticky Fingers album. Coincidentally, another song from the album, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking was used in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Episode 9: Speak Of The Devil
Positive: This episode involves Matt’s morality based on protecting people both day and night.
A man in red foreshadows a distinctive costume.
A fight scene with Matt and a henchmen was pretty intense.
Matt’s Character Flaw is a key theme in Episode 9.
I can’t tell you the last scene. You’re gonna have to watch for yourself.
Negative: Shaky Cam is used in a few scenes yet again.
Episode 10: Nelson v. Murdock
Positive: Matt & Foggy’s friendship is in jeopardy. I can’t say why.
Inside Urich’s office, a newspaper with the headline, “Harlem Terror” is a callback to Hulk’s battle with The Abomination from The Incredible Hulk. Dagnabbit I miss Edward Norton!
Flashbacks reveals how two people met for the first time.
Karen & Urich pay a visit to an old woman with “connections.”
Something unpredictable happened near the end of Episode 10.
Negative: How many times do I need to bring up a Shaky Cam?!
Episode 11: The Path Of The Righteous
Positive: Episode 11’s title is a reference to Samuel L. Jackson’s speech from Pulp Fiction. You know the over-the-top “SAY WHAT AGAIN!”
After recovering, Matt realizes he needs to get himself an “upgrade.”
Someone linked to Fisk plays a pivotal role in Episode 11.
The end of Episode 11 caught me by surprise. I’m giving it an Extra Point for making me feel jumpy.
Negative: Shaky Cam is startin’ to annoy me. Does anybody know how to keep a camera still?
Episode 12: The Ones We Left Behind
Positive: Karen struggles with moral dilemma.
The Stakes are physically and emotionally high with Matt along with his friends/allies.
Without giving too much away, someone meets his/her fate.
Matt shows off his parkour skills similar to any playable character from an Assassin’s Creed video game running and jumping one rooftop after another.
Matt said, “I’m not the bad guy!” A reference to Ben Affleck’s horrendously bad Daredevil film. Unlike Ben’s version who watches a criminal die from a train, Charlie Cox’s version doesn’t display any psychopathic tendencies staying true to the character’s “no killing code.”
Fisk made a slight jab at people who care about celebrity weddings instead of focusing on corruption in our society. He actually has a point.
Negative: I’m gettin’ sick and tired of the cameraman’s shaky cam.
Episode 13: Daredevil
Positive: The name of Episode 13 is an obvious reference to the character.
After a whole season, we finally get to see a familiar costume.
A final battle we’ve all been waiting for since Season 1 started, paid off very well.
Season 1 ties up loose ends until Season 2, The Defenders & Season 3 continues Daredevil’s adventures.
Negative: Once again, Shaky Cam is used often.
The Final Verdict: A-
Marvel finally got Daredevil back to his roots. All the positive listed including performances, action sequences, the tone, morality and storyline are several reasons why Season 1 knocked it outta the park encouraging Netflix to co-produce Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist & The Punisher. If you’re new to see the MCU on the small screen, I highly recommend Daredevil.