Spoiler-free: Marvel’s Daredevil


I wasn’t originally planning to stay up overnight to watch DAREDEVIL, but frustration with my current WIP and a 20% off deal on beer at my local supermarket seemed to suggest that the world was conspiring to make me blow off a little steam. Which I did.

There won’t be any serious spoilers in this post, but I do want to talk about it in a general way. The show does several things very well:

In the first few episodes, Foggy is charismatic as hell. His relationship with Matt is funny and real, and the delight they take in their interplay contrasts powerfully with the pain in disillusionment they feel as the story progresses. And he’s not the only one. This show is really well cast.

Obviously, D’Onofrio has the flashiest role as Wilson Fisk, the crimelord villain of the piece, and he plays it against type. Instead of the smooth and commanding figure of the comics (and the previous movie), he plays Fisk as perpetually awkward and uncomfortable, without any of the presence and charisma of movie crime bosses. It’s a weird choice; it undercuts the power and efficacy of the show’s antagonists, making them seem less threatening.

But this isn’t really about the power fantasy of overcoming a seemingly unbeatable foe. There are power fantasy elements, obviously, but the show wisely undercuts them. For instance, after a (blessedly brief) origin scene which lasts less than two minutes, the show cuts to Matt Murdoch in the confessional, talking for at least three times the length of that “origin” scene about his dad, his father’s boxing career, and the violence he had inside him. The show is much more concerned with the characters’ histories, their damage, and their vulnerabilities than they are in feats of power.

Not that there aren’t plenty of fight scenes. There are, and they’re also well done. Guys who choreograph ARROW, take note.

Early trailers had a lot of viewers complaining that Daredevil was sporting all black with a Dread Pirate Roberts mask rather than the costume from the comics, but once the costume shows up, it doesn’t look nearly as cool as that black suit did. Sorry, I’m a DD fan, too, of a sort, but the simple black costume was way more effective than the devil suit.

But what really makes this show work is the paranoia and helpless despair the characters have to endure in the face of wealth and power in a thoroughly corrupt system. No one can be trusted. No one is safe. The hero can venture out in a mask and kick the crap out of bad guys, but he takes a helluva beating doing it.

Frankly, this is the first superhero show/movie to capture a winning noir tone since BATMAN BEGINS. Everyone, heroes and villains alike, are in tenuous positions. Everyone has loved ones they fear for. Everyone has powers working against them. Everyone thinks of themselves as the hero.

It’s a good show. I recommend it.