REVIEW: DAREDEVIL – SEASON ONE

 

MAIN CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Elden Henson (The Buttefly Effect)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Toby Leonard Moore (John Wick)
Vondie Curtis-Hall (Die Hard 2)
Bob Gunton (The Lincoln Lawyer)
Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Men In Black)

Charlie Cox and Deborah Ann Woll in Daredevil (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Peter McRobbie (Spider-Man 2)
John Patrick Hayden  (Yin/Yang)
Nikolai Nikolaeff (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Peter Shinkoda (Masked Rider)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Wai Chang Ho (Robot Stories)
Amy Rutberg (Recount)
Royce Johnson (Ghost in the Graveyard)
Matt Gerald (Terminator 3)

 

Daredevil was a fun, ferocious look at Marvel’s own city-saving vigilante. Similar to DC’s Batman and Green Arrow, Matt Murdock loves his city. Even more so, the neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen which was hit hard by the Chitarui attack – one of the show’s only mentioned connections to the MCU. In place of a crime-ravaged Irish immigrant-heavy neighborhood (as per the 60s/70s Daredevil comics), the choice was made to portray the square mile of crowded city as “mostly good people on hard times due to recent alien events.” Still folksy, but more modern. A smart move that helped tie Daredevil to the rest of the MCU happenings, despite the fact that the show is the grittiest, most violent entry into Marvel’s TV/movie canon so far. Strong, grounded performances, smart writing, and hard-hitting fight scenes immediately helped elevate Daredevil above fans’ expectations (which were already quite high). Buffy/Angel alums Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight (who took over as showrunner early on after Goddrad left for the ill-fated Sinister Six) delivered a taught, thoughtful, and appreciatively earnest take on Matt Murdock – one of Marvel’s most complex, hard-to-get-a-handle-on characters (and one of the most religious). A hero no movie would ever be able to get quite right.

Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk  served the show well. Fisk was portrayed as a very vulnerable man. A seriously dangerous one, no doubt, but also one who came with his own formative backstory and current web of lies and betrayals. Also…a love story. Fisk’s moments spent, early on, wooing and doting upon Ayelet Zurer’s art gallery curator Vanessa was a daringly wonderful way to introduce us to the character. Especially since Fisk had remained off-screen for a few episodes while the show built him up. D’Onofrio performance as Fisk was, simply put, one of the best parts of the show. As a man who almost seemed to be learning the actual mechanics of how to speak to other people every time he opened his mouth, Fisk’s shyness/awkwardness helped not only separate him from most crime boss cliches, but also helped us understand why a man as lonely and isolated as he was would become so lethally attached to Vanessa. While also seeing someone like Wesley, his right hand man, as a “true friend.” Despite them never showing any real bonds of brotherhood. Just an intense, loyal employer/employee relationship.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock was no slouch either, of course. As Matt constantly wrestled with how far he should morally go as a vigilante, Cox handled things with care and relatable concern. Of course, even with the act of killing as a point of spiritual debatelaire, Matt was willing to do just about most everything else under the sun to achieve his goals – including maiming, torturing, and knocking people into comas. He even, on a few occasions, threatened to kill villains via not saving them from their serious injuries. It was enough make one easily believe that all of this would weigh heavy on a Catholic’s conscience. The supporting cast was great as well. I really liked that this season didn’t go the trite, soapy “love triangle” route with Matt, Foggy, and Karen. There was some flirting, and a few seeds planted here and there for possible romantic tension – but the show politely waved at the idea while graciously passing it by. Deborah Ann Woll’s Karen was to be no one’s prop. And she wouldn’t seek solace “in the arms” of another. And she’d fight back, on whatever level was available to her. Also, Elden Henson’s Foggy Nelson was able to equally provide humor and drama in his fresh take on the “sidekick” role.

This praise also goes for Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple and Vondie Curtis-Hall’s Ben Urich – both important characters here (though Claire had never been tied to Daredevil in the comics) in their own right, given unique (and sometimes surprising) treatments. The fight scenes are, naturally, worth noting. You’ll find most folks raving over a sequence in the second episode, “Cut Man” (one of the show’s best entries), as well as a few others. And again, expert choreography aside, it’s the fact that Matt quite often takes an extreme shellacking that gives these battle sequences extra “oomph.” It really draws you in when you can almost feel how hard it is for Matt to face down a squad of thugs. When every blow to his body rocks yours. Daredevil was a thrilling, ultra-starisfying take on Daredevil’s material and lore. One that, like Favreau’s first Iron Man film, helped breathe new life and fandom into a somewhat B-tier Marvel character.

REVIEW: DAREDEVIL (2003)

CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Michael Clarke Duncan (Sin CIty)
Colin Farrell (Intermission)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
David Keith (Firestarter)
Scott Terra (Shadrach)
Leland Orser (The Bone Collector)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy)
Derrick O’ Connor (Lethal Weapon 2)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Smith (Dogma)
Coolio (Batman & Robin)

Daredevil stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, a lawyer who lives and works in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. As a child, Matt was blinded by biohazardous waste. However, this traumatic event augmented his other four senses, granting him with a radar-like vision, allowing him to “see” with sound. With his heightened senses, and his need to have justice fulfilled (stemming from his father’s murder), Matt roams the streets at night as Daredevil, a masked vigilante who serves as judge, jury, and executioner. Matt’s obsession with justice alienates him from others, even his law partner “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau).Matt’s life changes when he meets the beautiful Elektra (Jennifer Garner). Matt is immediately taken by this strong, young woman who is an accomplished fighter. However, things go awry when Elektra’s father is targeted by the ruthless Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan), a crime-boss who will stop at nothing to keep his empire intact. Kingpin dispatches the assassin Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who has the ability to make any object into a deadly weapon, to eliminate Elektra’s father. Matt finds himself pulled into Elektra’s world, but clearly only Daredevil can stop Bullseye and The Kingpin.Jennifer Garner in Daredevil (2003)Daredevil is a very dark movie.  Thus capturing the feel of the years that Frank Miller worked on the comic. While most of the Marvel Comics characters are tortured souls, Daredevil is an especially bleek character, and the movie does a fine job of presenting this. Whereas the comic is full of thought balloons in which the character expresses his innermost feelings, the film presents montages essaying his loneliness and bitterness. This is a man who is pissed-off at the world, and even when something beautiful such as Elektra comes along, it gets blighted.Ben Affleck in Daredevil (2003)Along with the tone of the film, Johnson provides a nice pace as well. The action scenes here are nothing new, but they are very well-shot and edited. The film does a fine job of balancing the exciting scenes with the more dramatic ones, and Favreau is even able to throw in a few moments of comic relief. For the most part, the special effects are good.One of the film’s biggest surprises is the performance by Affleck. Maybe it’s the contact lenses that he had to wear to convey blindness, but he is very good as Matt Murdock, keeping his typically rakish behavior in check for most of the film. Garner is impressive as well as Elektra, although I would have liked to have seen a costume that was similar to that in the comics.   A director’s cut of the film was released for in 2004. This version contained new additions like previously unseen footage and a removed subplot, and was to be a bit darker with an R rating. One of the biggest changes to the film was the addition of a subplot involving a drug addict played by Coolio.