A version of this review originally appeared in Drake University’s campus newspaper, The Times-Delphic Relays Edition.
Where Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is action-packed, Marvel’s “Daredevil” is violent and gritty in a whole new way. Airing on Netflix, with all 13 episodes available without a wait, binge-watching was a must.
The show chronicles the origins of the comic book character Mathew Murdock, played by actor Charlie Cox. Matt, was blinded at a young age by radioactive materiel.
Now an adult, Matt is trying to save his city, Hell’s Kitchen, from being over taken by criminal activity. Dressed in a black mask, Matt fights gangsters at night using skills he learned during his childhood. During the day, he and his law firm partner Foggy Nelson, played by actor Elden Henson, attempt to defend the innocent and protect those persecuted by the corruption.
For comic book outsiders, the show’s plot is easily digestible—if you can stomach the gore. There’s no mistaking that this show is dark. Much darker than anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us before. Compound fractures—where bones break the skin—are frequently shown, and murder with ordinary objects like bowling balls and hammers leave the perpetrator’s faces spattered with blood.
But violence is a part of this world—without it, Hell’s Kitchen wouldn’t be hell, and wouldn’t need the devil to protect it.
As the series goes on, Matt, Foggy and Karen Page (a young woman Matt and Foggy help in the first episode and portrayed by Deborah Ann Woll) all take up the fight against the show’s ultimate villain.
This villain, whose name isn’t revealed until the end of the third episode, “Rabbit in a Snowstorm,” inspires such fear that his underlings would rather die then speak his name. This build-up doesn’t lead to a let down. Wilson Fisk, portrayed by actor Vincent D’Onofrio, is everything a villain should be. Imposing, terrifying and controlled, Fisk rules Hell’s Kitchen’s underworld with an iron fist, “taking care of” anyone and everyone that risks his attempts to save the city.
Together with impeccable acting, fluid cinematography and an eerie soundtrack, Marvel’s Daredevil builds and moves easily from one episode to the next. Before you realize it, you’ve watched the entire series. The characters, even the women, are dynamic and complicated.
The casting and writing in the show highlights the diversity in Hell’s Kitchen, with Rosario Dawson portraying Matt’s love interest and nurse, Claire. Both Karen, Matt, and Claire speak Spanish to their Hispanic client Mrs. Elena Cardenas, as they help her with her lawsuit.
While the show isn’t perfect—some of the fight scenes are a little long–it portrays issues of morality fully, highlighting on Matt’s Catholic faith even as he pushes crooked cops off of buildings, and claims to feel the devil inside of himself.
With the show’s release, Marvel yet again shows that it knows what it’s doing. Continually moving forward and creating complex worlds, “Daredevil” is just the beginning of a new, shadow-y and dark era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And this show definitely stands up against re-watching.