I’ve never made it a secret to my family and friends that I don’t care for the gratuitous grim-darking of (let’s face it: DC) superheroes. I didn’t like Christopher Nolan’s DARK KNIGHT series. It was no fun. And, dark Superman is just wrong.
So, when I heard that Marvel was finally going dark, I held my breath and prepared myself for an intense April 10th. Marvel has dark characters in its line-up, sure. Daredevil, the Punisher, Blade, and (ignoring cinematic evidence) Ghost Rider. They are all the darkest of the dark. But, every Marvel character has a dark side, even if that side doesn’t come out in the form of, let’s say, only fighting at night. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER was dark without being grim-dark. THOR: THE DARK WORLD even has dark in the title! Remember when we first met Ronan in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and he smashed a guy’s head in with a hammer? No? You were too distracted by the filthy-mouthed raccoon? Ultimately, though, these heroes are still heroes in the light of day; they don’t have to hide in the shadows.
Keeping these things in mind, I revved up the Apple TV and got to work.
And Netflix’s DAREDEVIL is good.
There’s the typical morality issues of being a hero who doesn’t kill against an enemy who can’t seem to stop killing. And, Matt Murdock/Daredevil has the added stress of being broke (while Batman was rich and didn’t have to earn a living on the side), and an uncorrupted, blind lawyer in a Hell’s Kitchen destroyed by all that alien invasion in the AVENGERS movie.
This is all well and good, but let me pull out the four shining moments that make DAREDEVIL worth the watch:
1. Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk
I hesitate to call him by his comic book name, Kingpin, because he isn’t called that on the show. Not that I remember, anyway. He’s referred to as the king a few times to give us that taste, but they never push us over the edge. Fisk is evil. And he knows it. Better yet, he doesn’t care if you know it.
I can’t tell you how much I love an evil character who loves being evil. In recent media, not just comic book movies, there’s been a trend of trying to make the villain sympathetic.
“Oh, he’s the hero of his own story.”
“Oh, she’s just trying to do what she thinks is best.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Evil exists in the real world. Evil people exist in the real world. And, I love to see art imitating life. You may think he’s not evil, he just had a troubled childhood. I’m sure that contributed to it, but along the way, he made the choice to be evil. Plus, at the end, he admits he knows he’s the bad guy. You calling him a liar?
On top of that, D’Onofrio just looks like he’s having a grand old time playing a villain and it works.
2. The hallway fight scene
At the end of episode 2. I’m not going to sit here and analyze how they did it.
I just love the way it looks.
And that’s not the only great fight scene.
3. Foggy Nelson
Foggy, Matt Murdock’s partner at their law firm, is the heart of the show. Most of my criticism would lie in the fact that there wasn’t enough Foggy. He is the sense of humor that Matt doesn’t have, and he represents any innocence left in Murdock.
4. Karen Page
Who I called Jessica for half the series because that’s the name of the character Deborah Ann Woll played in TRUE BLOOD.
In a series that focuses on a male hero with a male villain, it’s nice that a female character actually gets to develop over the course of the season. She starts out a bit weak and waif-like, but, about half way through, she’s throwing her own punches (which is maybe when I started thinking of her as Jessica…)
By the end of the series, she’s all grown up and then some. She’s also made some choices that will probably come back and bite her in the ass in the (confirmed) second season.
While I still don’t know if I like the grim-dark direction of Daredevil, I will say there is a lot to love about the series. It seems that whatever Marvel sets out to do, they do well.
Also, (spoiler alert?), DAREDEVIL is NOT suitable for all audiences. There isn’t much swearing, but there is a lot of blood and gore. I mean, the opening credits are images formed from dripping, running blood. Or, maybe red paint. But, most likely blood. Daredevil gets his ass kicked. A lot.
Watch DAREDEVIL and you’ll be further indoctrinated into the Marvel cult.
If you know someone who’s watched DAREDEVIL, all you have to say is “car door” and they’ll know. Oh, boy, they’ll know.