April 10th, 2015 was a momentous day. Netflix and Marvel gave us all thirteen episodes of the first Marvel series to hit the streaming service, Daredevil. The series stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and is just the beginning of a universe designed for Netflix but one that is still tied in with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Eventually we'll see A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron First and finally The Defenders. All of that will come in time, today I'm here to tell you what I thought of the first season of Daredevil and yes...it did wash away that horrible taste of the Ben Affleck film of the same name.
Right away you're immersed into the Marvel mantra of "it's all connected" when we find out that "The Incident" is the reason for the current state of Hell's Kitchen's rebuilding. "The Incident" is of course, referring to the Attack on New York City that we witnessed during the closing battle of The Avengers. We get several references to the larger Marvel Universe as well, with photos and articles of various Avengers posted on the wall of New York Bulletin investigative journalist Ben Urich (Vondie Curtis-Hall). Also in a flashback to Murdock and Foggy Nelson's college days, Foggy makes jokes about a hot Greek girl that Murdock was interested in...Elektra Natchios anyone? We are also thrown right into Matt Murdock's origins of becoming blind as a young boy having saved an old man during a car accident in which drums of an unknown substance got into his eyes.
Throughout the series we get many flashbacks of Young Matt Murdock (played by Skylar Gaertner) both before and after becoming blind, and seeing his important relationship with his boxer father Battlin' Jack Murdock. Jack is in the business of throwing boxing matches, a not-so-noble profession. He decides to not throw a fight against Carl "Crusher" Creel (a character we've seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Absorbing Man), betting on himself and putting the cash into an account for Matt, which makes some people very upset. Jack ends up getting murdered near their apartment, where Matt actually hears the gunshot. As Matt grows up, he meets Stick, who teaches him how to fight, how to be a soldier. Matt learns to see without his eyes, and eventually can see better that most people with perfect vision. He uses his blindness as an effective alter ego, carrying around a walking stick and wearing the shades, pretending to struggle with day to day activities as a blind man. There's also a bit of mystery whenever the mention of Matt's mother is brought, a mystery we don't get the payoff for in this first season.
The stunt work is great! The fight scenes remind me very much of the great work they do over on CW's Arrow. Every shot is perfectly placed, and the action is fast paced and exciting. In the second episode there's a great fight scene in a hallway that seems to be all in one shot, as an already severely wounded Daredevil takes on several Russian gangsters in search of a kidnapped little boy. What's even better about this series is that you're taken on the journey with a fledgling hero. What I mean is, we follow Murdock as he grows as a crime fighter, and as a hero. We see him lose fights as much as he wins them. We also see him take damage and react and recover believably. He doesn't fall several stories into a dumpster and not suffer the consequences. There's a heavy dose of parkour in the show as well, and all the action looks amazing yet believable.
Murdock's day job is as a lawyer with his partner and best friend Foggy Nelson (played by Elden Henson). Henson does a great job as the lovable friend character and as the comedic relief, but that's not all he is to Murdock, especially as their friendship is thrown into turmoil. He provides a lot of heart and he's the common man in the series. They're joined in the first episode by Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) who was set up for murder and was set to be killed in jail. She works with Murdock and Nelson now, while trying to recover from the trauma and backlash of her attack. Also joining Murdock in his crimefighting ways is a nurse who patches up his many wounds. Claire Temple is played perfectly by the beautiful and talented Rosario Dawson. Those who don't know the character well, Claire is actually an amalgam of the Claire Temple character and the Night Nurse Marvel character. With Dawson having said that "it seems likely" that she'll reprise her role, we may get to see her alongside her comic book romantic interest, Luke Cage.
Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal of Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin is perfect. His voice made me think back to the 90's animated Spider-man series on FOX. Very ominous and foreboding, in the background in only one scene of the first episode but very much a presence throughout the early episodes. As the series progresses, we see his origins. We see him take his first life, and how exactly he grows into this Kingpin persona. Fisk is very much the perfect villain for Daredevil and the writers and D'Onofrio did a fantastic job of bringing him to life.
The show is paced very well. It feels like its a super sized movie instead of a thirteen episode series. The music, the acting, the locations, all of it blends well into this world of Hell's Kitchen that not only feels very real, but it also feels like a smaller piece of the giant MCU puzzle. I can see Cox standing beside Hawkeye, Black Widow, or even Iron Man. He fits in with the current Avengers roster, and I hope to see him popping up on the big screen eventually (perhaps taking a side in some kind of Civil War?).
Each character is extremely well developed over all thirteen episodes. Each one of them has their own arc which drastically changes them and makes them evolve before the season ends. You really do care about all the good guys, and you cannot wait for Fisk to get what's coming to him. The final fight between our hero and the villain was satisfying because of all that lead up to its climax. The music during this fight was a highlight as it captured the emotions of everything that's happened. The finale wrapped everything up in a nice bow and sets the stage for the future of Marvel on Netflix, but better yet the future of Daredevil in that universe.
I greatly enjoyed the series and cannot wait for the following three companion series to begin. Up next, A.K.A. Jessica Jones! What did you guys think of Daredevil?