Review: Daredevil – Season 1

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Speculation and skepticism ran rampant when it was announced that Netflix would host a set of series’ based in Marvel’s vaunted Cinematic Universe, both because the films have set the bar for quality so high, and because that other series set in the Universe (ABC’s Agents of SHIELD) hadn’t lived up to anyone’s lofty expectations. These series’ would literally set their sights lower than the Helicarrier though, focusing on Marvel’s “street level” characters, such as Luke Cage and Iron Fist, and starting with the Man without Fear himself, Daredevil.

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In the months running up to the series’ debut last week there was even more skepticism, about the production design, the casting, the trailers, the tone. But all those fears should be laid to rest. Daredevil is here and it’s another jewel in Marvel’s adaptation crown.

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Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox is perfectly cast here as Matt Murdock, blind lawyer by day and masked crime fighter by night. Cox conveys the pathos and pain behind Matt’s vocation brilliantly, making us believe the man’s mission, possibly more so than any such similar costumed vigilante ever portrayed onscreen. Yes, he’s that good.

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Casting is uniformly flawless across the board, with Eldin Henson just goofy enough but not entering into Poochie territory as Matt’s partner in lawyering Foggy Nelson and Deborah Ann Woll (fresh from being the only thing that made True Blood even marginally watchable) bringing the perfect mix of strength and vulnerability to Karen Page.

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The main attraction here though is Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. The comics’ Kingpin of crime is portrayed here with a frightening intensity, whether he’s delivering a monologue or literally “getting his hands dirty”, he’s constantly posing a threat. Rosario Dawson, Ayelet Zurer and Bob Gunton are also excellent in supporting roles, and I especially loved Vondie Curtis-Hall as reporter Ben Urich and Scott Glenn as blind master Stick.

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Without spoiling anything for non-comics fans, the series follows Nelson and Murdock’s attempts to uncover Fisk’s misdeeds using the law while “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” beats his way to the truth. The story isn’t a direct adaptation of any arc from the books but there are several nods to classic Horn Head ephemera. We even get some ninja action without it seeming completely out of place and ridiculous.

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Fight scenes are brutally realistic, with even small time henchman types taking more than a few hits to go down. Matt takes a hell of a beating here as well. It’s refreshing to see this type of action portrayed so matter-of-factly No quick cut, blurry vision, shaky cam bullshit here.

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Believe me when I say that this series is damn near perfect, and belongs in the apex of Marvel’s cinematic output right alongside Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Hopefully Netflix’s following “Marvel Knights” series’ can keep up the standard set here, and a second season can’t come fast enough.

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Daredevil is currently available for streaming through Netflix.

 

Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.
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