This has been an emotionally draining Monday.
After an exhaustive binge on the leaked Game of Thrones episodes and the new Daredevil series from Netflix; having gone into the latter with a helpful serving of skepticism that every comic book fan should keep handy, I sat through a few episodes this weekend and was surprised by just how much more intriguing Marvel’s Daredevil turned out to be compared to the latest main-character-killfest from George R.R. Martin.
Like the titular hero, I found myself pushing the limits of taking an (emotional) beating that no TV show of this kind has the right or means to deliver. Having dwelled on the experience long enough, I can pen down a few noted distinctions and achievements in the MCU-Netflix debutant after a day of fascinated preoccupation with The Man Without Fear.
If you haven’t yet indulged in Netflix’s take on the Marvel superhero then you’re missing out on what is probably the most refreshing new show on TV right now.
It’s no shocker that a show of such convictions arguably could only have been possible on Netflix, of all places.
A Bold Take On The MCU
Daredevil lives true to its name and has thrashed and thrown out fans’ phobias of network studios cheesing/hamming up elaborate comic book adaptations over and over again. Throughout the viewing my attention span was divided and switching between its entertainment value and a recurring appreciation for the uncompromising grit and brutality that the show uses to the fullest advantage to develop an engrossing story. It’s no shocker that a show of such convictions arguably could only have been possible on Netflix, of all places.
The Good Stuff, Minus Network Exec Bullshit
There’s no signs of any forced demands for relationship drama that The CW executives probably love to shoehorn in every one of their shows’ scripts, nor any beating around the bush aimlessly like Fox network’s pointless exercise in Gotham. Daredevil has made superheroes relatable to me for the first time in many years. This is the story of a normal man without billions in the bank or any superpowers to his name (aside from having really, really good hearing). They even go as far as joking about it in the sript:
“I’d understand if he had an Iron Suit or a Magic Hammer… Maybe…”
Above And Beyond TV Production Values
It probably would be a very ordinary show if not for the excellent synergy of the writing, acting, cinematography and even the choreography (Daredevil, dare I say, has the best fight scenes ever filmed for a TV show). While other superhero shows seek appeal via spectacle, Daredevil earns it through distinction.
Pushing Superhero TV Shows Forward
Let me elaborate why I’m making such a big deal about such a small thing as having an ordinary superhero. Take for example Smallville… It was probably the best superhero TV series any comic book fan had for a while. And it squandered away all its potential by never really growing out of the shell it created from day one. The first season showed a confused Clark Kent battling with the everyday chaos of teenage life paired with the inner turmoil of being an outcast with a hero complex.
This goes on for ten seasons.
Things fared a little better with The CW’s Arrow, but it still didn’t grip my imagination like the comics and animated treatments had done. I found myself groaning at the amount of screentime given to #relationshipproblems and pointless support characters. The heroes and villains always two dimensional and predictable in their developments. You can make a drinking game out of the number of times they try to impose the ‘I used to be a rich badboy but now I’ve changed’ angle. It is a game of arrested-character-development.
Daredevil is uniquely positioned to avoid the worries of mass appeal or the limited screentime availability that other entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are facing. The gritty and grounded realism is reflected in every aspect of the show right down to the fight choreography as proven by a particular fight scene done in a single take.
What is spectacular about this scene isn’t the single take or the brilliant stunt work… But rather the careful direction imposing the very same realism that is evident in the story itself. You see Matt Murdock run out of breath and lean against walls after a draining showdown against a group of baddies. Unlike typical comic book movies and shows, the bad guys don’t go down in single punches either (one-hit KOs are a pet peeve of mine). They keep getting back up and deal some serious damage to our suicidal hero.
Never before has the entire spirit of a show been so spectacularly captured in a single scene expressed solely through brutal physical violence.
I’ll take some more time with the series before delving into other characters, villains and how it deals with tropes. But for now, Daredevil stands very high on my list of recommendations if you’re looking for schizophrenic mix of imaginative storytelling with a violent yet grounded execution.