When I first started collecting comics, I gravitated towards the usual suspects: The X-Men, The Avengers, Spider-Man, and The Fantastic Four. Later, I started reading Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. However, I never really liked Daredevil.
Daredevil didn’t really do it for me in those days. The stories were always “blah” and nothing really grabbed my attention. So, he was blind, had a billy club he could bounce like a cue ball on a pool table, and had something akin to sonar. It was boring. That was before I discovered the work of Frank Miller.
In “Born Again” and then again in “The Man Without Fear,” Miller totally transformed a character that in other hands would have been a b-character at best. In fact, before Miller’s initial run, Marvel was close to canceling Daredevil. Miller gave the story of Matt Murdock and Daredevil an edge that hadn’t been seen in many years. Gone were the trite stories of Daredevil fighting characters like Gladiator and the Stilt Man. Miller replaced those stories with sand and grit and pitted Daredevil against The Kingpin, ninjas, Elektra, and The Hand. Miller added religious elements and psychological conflicts into the mix. Daredevil became more human than super human.
Daredevil is more noir and darker than anything else that has come out of the Marvel stables. It has to be, for two reasons. One, much of the story line was heavily inspired and borrowed from Frank Miller’s Daredevil. It wouldn’t be difficult to tone down Miller’s style, but it would difficult to make it a story anyone would want to watch.
Second, Daredevil doesn’t have the flash of other Marvel characters. He isn’t a super soldier, he doesn’t stick on walls, can’t turn green, and isn’t a Norse god. It’s just Daredevil, some heightened senses, and using the night to his advantage.
The series creators have used these two elements to create a crime/mob story unlike anything else on television. Without giving too much away the story in Daredevil is something we would see in a Scorsese film (especially, one scene in particular during the last episode): Corruption is rampant on the streets and in government, controlled by a powerful figure, and someone wants to do something about it. The one person, in this case, is Matt Murdock.
To be honest, it’s a familiar story in the comic book world (i.e Batman), but without the silliness of the comic books. The world outside Matt Murdock’s window is much like the one we would see, but with a superhero vigilante running around the rooftops. However, Matt Murdock and company fight using the law just as much as Daredevil does with his fists. Again, it’s a lot like a Scorsese film.
What really makes Daredevil special, at least for me, are the characters. There aren’t any cardboard characters in the series. They are all developed as much as characters in the first season can be developed. Even the secondary characters are more than just back drops for the main characters. The actors bring the characters to life and make us care about each one of them.
Daredevil and Matt Murdock are not that spectacular of characters. There will be those that say Murdock/Daredevil is very similar to Bruce Wayne/Batman, minus a few million dollars and a cave. However, what separates the two characters is how Cox plays Murdock/Daredevil. He’s a man driven to do the right thing before all else. Whereas Bruce Wayne wants to quit being Batman, Matt Murdock is in it for the long haul. Cox excels at bringing out the driven spirit of Daredevil, but also the concern that he can’t protect the ones he loves.
It’s the other characters revolving around Matt Murdock/Daredevil that separates the series from others in the superhero genre. Foggy Nelson and Karen Page don’t just prop up Murdock, the two help drive help drive the story forward. If series writers and creators follow Miller’s lead Page and Nelson will play a much bigger part in the series. It’ll be interesting to see their development in future seasons.
Wilson Fisk, compared to other crime boss comic book characters, is very human with all the flaws that go along with being human. It would be easy to say the flaws are his criminal ways, but the fact is we see a character with a background that may explain why he became who is. He’s a tragic character in the most Shakespearean sense of the word. Although the performance is strained at times, Vincent D’Onofrio pulls off making Wilson Fisk a character we love to hate.
The other thing Daredevil does better than most genre series are the fight scenes. The fight scenes, which occur in every episode, are some of the best choreographed scenes on the small or big screen. Nowadays, if there’s action on the screen, the director wants to shake the camera around. It’s suppose to make the viewer feel as if they’re in the middle of the action. It’s a technique that has been overused and has become played out. The Daredevil directors saw fit to keep the camera still which lets the viewer actually see the fights. We can appreciate how cool these scenes are and the work that went into the choreography because we can see the action.
Hands down, Daredevil is one of the best series on television (or any other device you choose to watch it on). The only complaint I have, and many people will not agree with me, is how Marvel has felt the need to include Daredevil in their larger cinema universe. Yes, I get the fact that Marvel is trying to do the same thing with their movie and television properties as they have done with their comic book universe. However, when characters in Daredevil reference characters and events from other Marvel movies it jars us from this well-crafted world we have become invested in and reminds us that the Marvel gimmick crosses all platforms.
Overall, Daredevil is truly a must see by anyone who likes crime dramas or the superhero genre.