In the wake of the chaotic destruction of New York City by way of “the incident” (the end of The Avengers), the rest of New York City is left to rebuild. From the rubble emerges those who would look to take advantage of weakness, to reap rewards under a false flag of honor. Still, there are few who, in the aftermath, raise a standard for that of those in need. At the office and on the streets, Matt Murdock—Daredevil—is one of those men.
Blinded by a chemical accident during his youth, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) follows in the footsteps of his father and other mentors, as he traverses his newly dimmed world. Donning a mask and utilizing sharply-toned fighting skills buoyed by nearly supernatural senses, he sets out to make his neighborhood—Hell’s Kitchen—safer by standing against those who seek to destroy it. With the help of his assistant Karen Paige (Deborah Ann Woll) and close friend and partner in law Foggy Nelson (Eldon Henson), Murdock seeks to dismantle the criminal empires from within the confines of the law and (unbeknown to his pals) with the fury of Murdock’s fists.
The trio soon discovers that Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), the kingpin of a crime organization, has power and influence in frightening places. As enemies close in, Murdock soon takes more upon himself, loosing a kind of devil on those who threaten his friends and principles for which he adamantly stands.
The performances in Daredevil are fantastic. Dosing out realism and fiction in appropriate fashion, the show has a kind of harmony. Its tale is of a different breed of superhero. D’Onofrio offers a passion-filled performance, masterfully embodying his deranged character in every grimace, twitch and mannerism. His menacing figure, as a man and physical manifestation of power, evokes a kind of fear shared by characters within and outside his ranks.
Cox does well to bring the the audience into the mind of a blind man. His gazes, manner of speech and overall tone show just how deeply conflicted Matt Murdock is in the wake of his accident and the destruction of his city. In the supporting roles of Paige and Nelson, Woll and Henson bring raw emotion and believability to the show. In many cases, they act as the voice of the audience, raising questions that those watching would have, and drive the logical progressions in the narrative.
In terms of action, Daredevil is a thrill. With its television scaled budget, Daredevil uses brutal, hard boiled fight scenes. As Murdock seemingly does the impossible—warding off foe after foe despite his blindness, the audience is brought along to understand just how he does it. Most action scenes are met with distinct audio pieces like a whoosh of a blade or foot, or the increased heartbeat of an adversary. All are indicative of the heightened senses of Daredevil, which allow him to be steps ahead of his enemies. In a different sort of action, in the courtroom and during questioning, Murdock’s abilities create tension, as he easily sees through the lies and falsehoods of those evading the law.
Daredevil is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which leaves the door open for tie-ins to existing series. The narrative spun in Daredevil is distinct from anything else we has seen come out of Marvel in the past couple of years. It’s much darker and not just because of the protagonists lack of sight. Compared to the relatively bloodless installments of Marvel’s recent fare, Daredevil does not pull as many punches. The ruthlessness of the criminal enterprises are encapsulated in very real and harrowing scenes of rage-filled murder and deceit. Such scenes serve as justification for Daredevil’s similarly brutal responses.
With this darker setting though, we have to wonder how any of the characters in Daredevil might interact with the bland bots of ABC’s Agents of Shield, another Marvel property. They seem to come from largely different circumstances. Daredevil might also conflict with the more fantastical realms in the Marvel Universe. Although gifted with heightened senses, Daredevil is largely human, and it shows. He bleeds … a lot. The realism of Murdock’s cause would seem at odds with the chipper god from Asgard. That being said, there is room for other interesting tie-ins with newly acquired properties garnering fresh, possibly darker starts. A certain wall-crawler is known to wander about the skylines shared by Daredevil.
Daredevil builds to a thoroughly enjoyable tale of a hero much different from others Marvel has graced us with. Coming from nothing and becoming the change he wished, if not to see, to sense in the world, Daredevil is a testament to a human spirit. Down the line, it will be interesting to see such a character grow and come out of the shadows as more than a vigilante, but a hero.
Featured Image Courtesy of ABC Studios