Five episodes of the first season of “Marvel’s Daredevil” were provided for review purposes prior to broadcast.
Fans of Marvel’s iconic, red-suited blind vigilante have long waited for an adaptation that was true to the source material and captured the very things that made the Man Without Fear so beloved in the first place. Unfortunately, Mark Steven Johnson’s 2003 film starring Ben Affleck left much to be desired, immediately putting a stop to what could have been a lucrative and exciting franchise.
It took twelve years, several false starts and a rights shift from 20th Century Fox to Marvel Studios to resurrect the character, but if this new series is any indication, it was well worth the wait. Daredevil is most definitely a bold step in the right direction for Marvel and Netflix’s new superhero television endeavour, which will continue with shows featuring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, before culminating in a team-up miniseries dubbed The Defenders.
Marvel has already extended its ever-expanding and ambitious cinematic universe to television, albeit with mixed results. It took a season and a half for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find its footing and prove its worth within the MCU, and while Agent Carter was far better received from the outset, there’s no telling if the miniseries will hold any weight in the MCU or just exist as a fun, one-off Captain America: The First Avenger companion.
Daredevil, from the outset, feels like it truly belongs in the world that Marvel has created, despite the fact that it’s very different than anything the studio has done before. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a company that’s been chastised for its cookie-cutter style and lighter tone, and it thankfully opens the door for darker characters like Blade and the Punisher to exist under the same banner as Tony Stark and Thor.
The series plays out not like a straight-forward origin story or superhero drama, but instead an extended 12-hour movie. As such, I foresee that many will binge-watch the entire thing once it premieres and will likely be rewarded for the time investment.
While its sudden bursts of brutal (and often bloody) violence and darker tone make it feel like a fresh take on the Marvel formula, Daredevil is, frankly, not something we haven’t seen before. In fact, it reminds me a lot of what we’ve seen from Marvel’s rival, DC Comics, in projects like Batman Begins, Man of Steel and Arrow. It employs Christopher Nolan’s flashback-heavy approach to a superhero origin tale and Arrow‘s city-saving vigilante mission and rough fighting style. It works well in the context in which it’s presented, but I have to wonder how the approach will hold up once Matt Murdock makes the inevitable jump to the big screen and shares some screentime with the likes of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
We’ve heard a lot about how the new Netflix shows will shed some light on the “street-level” side of the MCU, but how that would be accomplished was a bit of a mystery. Thankfully, Daredevil finds clever ways of tying in to the larger cinematic universe while remaining hyper-focused, with small but smart allusions to the world at large.
Daredevil‘s world is, at its core, shaped heavily by some of the bigger events in films like The Avengers, but not in a way that feels tongue-in-cheek. In fact, any and all mentions of the Battle of New York or other Marvel heroes feel incredibly, and impressively, organic. This helps carve a small place in the MCU for the Daredevil series and the titular hero, while allowing both to stand on their own. Those completely unfamiliar with any of Marvel’s cinematic efforts won’t miss a thing by watching Daredevil, making the show both an extension of the larger universe and a possible entry point for newcomers.