It was good, except those times it wasn't.

By Darren Franich
Updated April 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Netflix

Marvel's Daredevil

  • TV Show
  • Netflix

NOTE: The following should only be read after watching the entire first season of Daredevil.

Daredevil is good, I think?

It’s not bad. Bad things are bad, and this is not bad.

Yeah. It’s definitely not bad.

But you seemed to think it was definitely GOOD after you watched the first five episodes.

Well, the supporting cast is really strong. Elden Henson makes a good Foggy Nelson. Deborah Ann Woll is great as Karen Page.

How many times did she get attacked?

Three. Well, unless you count the inciting incident of the whole series, when Wilson Fisks set her up for murder. But other than that, there’s just the time that she gets attacked and Daredevil saves her, and the time she gets attacked and Foggy saves her, and the time she gets attacked and kidnapped and manages to save herself because the second-in-command of an impeccably organized criminal enterprise puts a loaded gun on a table two feet away from her.

That’s a lot of times for one female character to get attacked in a single season.

Well, at least she doesn’t get beaten up by any Russians. That’s what happens to Rosario Dawson.

She was on Daredevil?

Yeah, remember? She was the co-lead in the incredible second episode, and then she had some really strong scenes in the middle of the season before she disappeared at the end.

I’m sure they have big plans for her.

Yeah, sure, she’s like Bunny Colvin getting introduced for one episode of season 2 of The Wire before taking the lead in season 3. Right?


She has such great chemistry with Charlie Cox. Much better chemistry than, like, Deborah Ann Woll. I bet if Daredevil were a normal TV show, and the producers could see the first few episodes on the air, and get viewer reactions, and really analyze what was working and wasn’t working, they would’ve made the back half of the season Daredevil and Night Nurse.

Well, that’s the problem with Netflix.

That’s the problem with Netflix.

How many viewers do you think Daredevil would’ve gotten, if it aired on television?

More than SHIELD. Maybe a bit less than Gotham initially. Put Daredevil on ABC and I bet the premiere gets 7 million viewers.

How many viewers would the finale have gotten?

Well, the show’s second episode is great, and the introduction of Wilson Fisk is great, and the fifth episode is when all hell breaks loose. I bet excitement would’ve been building after that fifth episode. And episode 6 is a great low-key little action thriller, with Matt and a dying Russian fighting each other inside an abandoned building while cops prepare to march in. And the first phone conversation between Matt and Wilson is incredible! It’s like the moment in Infernal Affairs when the undercover cop and the undercover bad guy talk to each other, the moment DiCaprio ruined in The Departed with his accent! Seriously, episode 6 is almost a great bottle episode!

Except it keeps cutting back to Foggy and Karen.

And Ben, and Wilson, and Wesley.

The show likes to cut back to people.

But that just shows how much the show cares about its supporting cast.

But great TV shows don’t need to feature the entire cast every week. Gotham doesn’t need to find something for Alfred to do every week. And especially since Daredevil‘s on Netflix, shouldn’t we expect it to be MORE adventurous in its storytelling, not less? You know what genre TV show featured the entire cast every week? Heroes.

Daredevil is way better than Heroes.

Heroes was good before it was bad. Now talk about episode 7.

Don’t wanna.


Don’t wanna.

Hey, it had a cool ending.

The best thing about Daredevil is how Marvel explicitly silo’d it off from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Nobody even said SHIELD once, not once the entire season! And I find it entirely respectable that Marvel decided that, when they WERE going to do some universe-building, they would do it all in one single episode, an episode that you could basically ignore.

Stick is fighting a war…

Stop it.

…a war against mysterious forces…

Stop it.

…and some mysterious shirtless guy asked if Daredevil would be ready “when the doors opened.”

Stop it, stop it, can’t we get back to Hell’s Kitchen?

Why are you so freaked out? This is definitely about Iron Fist. You like Iron Fist, right?

I roll hard for Iron Fist.

Like, at the end of the season, when the obviously Chinese woman says she’s not from China, but from somewhere MUCH further away, she’s talking about K’un-Lun, right? That’s Iron Fist, too!

I dunno. Couldn’t they have saved that for season 2? It’s not like, in the middle of Iron Man, Jeff Bridges started talking about how cool it was when Tony’s dad hung out with Captain America in World War II.

Why can’t you just sit back and enjoy the fact that Iron Fist is going to be a thing normal people are talking about?

I dunno, are they gonna give Iron Fist a thirteen-hour origin story which ends with him putting on a pretty lame-looking costume?


Seriously, the black costume looked AWESOME. So low-key, so normal. I love that they even made a joke about that—in the episode where Foggy finds out about Matt’s secret identity, Matt says that he just ordered it all from the internet. And then he goes to a tailor who makes high-tech skintight armor and puts on a costume that mixes together the Dark Knight pads with the Amazing Spider-Man basketball-latex?

It’s not the best costume.

Arrow looks better. The Flash looks better.

But those shows don’t have Vincent D’Onofrio. He’s great.

Yeah. But isn’t it weird how, in the first few episodes, he’s basically omniscient, but then he meets a girl and starts to become impulsive, to the point where everyone around him starts basically saying that Yoko Ono is really ruining the band?

That flashback episode was great, though.

It was okay.

He killed his father! And that ties him to Matt, who feels like he indirectly “killed” his father.

Yeah, but I feel like there were maybe twice as many flashbacks as there needed to be. Doesn’t it just feel like sometimes, on these Netflix shows, scenes go on a bit too long? It’s like watching a rough cut of a TV episode, which hasn’t been cut down to fit into the running time.

But Netflix doesn’t have a mandatory running time! Isn’t that the point?

Yes, and listen, anytime someone wants to make a show on Netflix where every shot is a Tarkovsky-esque ten-minute take, I’m there. But Daredevil doesn’t really do anything special with the streaming-binge format. This could have totally been a normal show on, like, FX. Like, in purely structural terms, the show Daredevil most resembles is probably season one of Justified, which also featured a Troubled Lead Character returning to his Troubled Home, and a mixture of procedural-ish episodes and serialied plotlines.

There was really only the one procedural episode, though, when they defended that murderer in episode 3.

Yeah, they didn’t really have any other clients.

Besides the kindly old lady who died.

This show does like to kill people.

This show killed Ben Urich!

That was a great moment. Vondie Curtis-Hall was great. I’m really sad he’s gone. Did Ben Urich do anything this season?


He talked to Karen a lot!

He did.

He almost published a poorly-sourced article about a powerful public figure based entirely on the words of a dementia-addled old lady!


Vondie Curtis-Hall was great.

Remember back in episode 2, when they had that awesome hallway fighting scene?

That was great, too!

Did you think there was going to be another memorable fight scene?

I did!

Was there?

Ummmm…the ninja?


Oh, that long take with the blind guy in the back of the limo.

That was cool.

The fights with Fisk were pretty cool?

Doesn’t it feel like Marvel specifically frontloaded the best fight scene to tease you with the possibility of more stuff like that? Kind of like how pilots are always more expensive-looking than the second episode?

Marvel has a lot of money.

The location shooting was really good.

Even if they always seemed to be walking along the same part of the river.

Listen, the show took a lot of smart moves. It accelerated the secret identity thing by giving Matt a lot of reveals. It kept doing new things with Fisk’s interior psychology, like the recurring resonance of the empty wall and the blank white canvas. They managed to tell an “origin story” that wasn’t really an origin story, because he was already a crimefighter, he just wasn’t named “Daredevil” yet. The theme music is cool.

Did the theme music sound kind of like The Dark Knight to you?

Kind of. Just a little.

There was a lot of Batman Begins in Daredevil.

What do you mean? There were just extensive flashbacks to the superhero’s youth, and the first big superhero action scene is the superhero fighting criminals at the docks, and the gag where a normal person looks away from the hero for a second and when he looks back the hero has disappeared, and Daredevil asks his costume manufacturer to make him a “symbol,” which doesn’t really make sense in the context of Daredevil but does make sense in the context of the first part of Batman Begins which is all about how people get inspired by symbols.

But some of that is in the comics.

…and the bad guy talks a lot about saving the city by cleansing it of all impurity, and the plucky female lead is a crusader for right who needs to be saved one time or three, and Stick in this first season is basically just a less villainous version of Liam Neeson right down to the idea that Stick’s main gripe with Daredevil is that he won’t murder people and…

But maybe that’s just the Frank Miller influence.

There’s a lot of Frank Miller in the air right now.

Well, mainstream culture has always been about three decades behind comic book culture. In 2045, you’ll be complaining about how everything feels like Matt Fraction and looks like Mike Allred.

I would never complain about that.

Time travel back to 1995 and tell your 10-year-old self you’re complaining that there’s too much Frank Miller influence on pop culture.

Charlie Cox was good.

His American accent was questionable.

British people aren’t half as good at American accents as they think they are. But in leading-man Marvel superhero terms, I’d rank him right between Chris Evan’s Captain America and Chris Hemsworth’sThor.

Where’s Downey rank in that?

Higher before Iron Man 3.

Where’s Star-Lord rank in that?

He’s not a superhero.

You’re in a pedantic mood.

If this first season was a comic book, where would you rank it in the Daredevil lineage?

That’s a ridiculous question.

No, but it’s better than anything that happened in the ’90s. Also, it’s just the first season. And they made some of the sets look like Frank Miller’s ’80s stuff. Every window at night was shining a bright yellow! Every bar was lit up with red lights!

But shouldn’t we maybe expect stuff that is based on awesome stuff, made by a company at the peak of its powers, to be really really good? Why do we keep cutting it slack by saying it’s “pretty good for a first try”?

Well, if it were a Marvel movie, where would you rank it?

Middle of the pack. Better than Iron Man 3, not as good as Iron Man.

Wilson Fisk is the best villain Marvel’s ever had! Who else even compares? The Winter Soldier? The Iron Monger? He’s like what Loki would be, if Marvel ever let Loki be bad and not just misunderstood!

Loved Fisk. Want more Fisk. More Fisk, more Night Nurse, more of them actually being lawyers. Maybe a sense that the criminal underworld in New York isn’t just composed of a bunch of ethnic stooges who can be entirely destroyed in a single episode.

That’s what season 2 is for!

Was this show a success?

Who knows. Netflix shares went up. Probably. Who knows?

I am excited about Iron Fist.

Me too. It’ll definitely have more fight scenes, right?

Right. Maybe. Probably. I dunno.


Both of the voices in my head want to hear from you! Email me at with your full thoughts on season 1 of Daredevil, and I’ll discuss it in next week’s edition of the Entertainment Geekly Mailbag.

Episode Recaps

Marvel's Daredevil

Matt Murdock, the blind superhero, gets his own television show via Netflix.
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  • 3
  • Netflix