'Daredevil': Let's talk about the first season
Everyone’s done with Daredevil, right? You should be if you’re reading this, because we’re going to dig into some spoilers from throughout the first season.
Looking back on the thirteen episodes of Daredevil that Marvel produced for Netflix, it’s nearly impossible to declare the first season anything but a major success for both companies. What little ratings information we’re able to glean from the streaming giant suggests that lots of people watched—and if you’re one of the millions who stuck with Matthew Murdock all the way through, you’re probably pleased, more or less, with how it all turned out.
And if you’re a comic book fan, how could you not be? Depending on your opinion of S.H.I.E.L.D., the bar for Marvel-based TV shows has been set fairly low. Daredevil didn’t need to soar very high to be among the best depictions of costumed crusaders on TV, but the fact that we got not only a great Matt Murdock, but a fascinatingly bizarre Wilson Fisk is like expecting a Papa John’s and the delivery guy bringing actual pizza.
Owen Sleater pulled it off! Cox was able to breathe life into a character that both resembled the version in the comics and felt honest and human. As it stands, Cox’s Murdock is one of the best heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, period. Plus, his worldview and powers distinguish him from the Avengers we already know—even if he skews a little too Batman at times.
Leave it to D’Onofrio to come out of nowhere with a version of the Kingpin that no one could have predicted. Is there anything that could possibly be farther from Michael Clarke Duncan’s baller in the 2003 movie? By emphasizing the hero’s character—one of Marvel’s greatest strengths—the house of ideas has always shortchanged its baddies on film. Not here: The television format gave the writers to stretch their legs and deliver a fully formed villain for the first time in the MCU.
The bad guys
Actually, the entire evil roster was great. The Russians have about ten times more depth than they’d traditionally get in the action genre. Wesley (RIP) was the most underrated character of the series. Madame Gao ruled. Nobu gave Daredevil his best fight. And who doesn’t love to hate the warden from Shawshank Redemption?
Speaking of the Nobu ninja battle: The fight choreography was strong throughout the series, with each battle feeling distinct, albeit never short on flip kicks.
The good guys
As the season went on, there was a growing sense that the writers didn’t know what to do with Foggy and Karen. Putting them on Fisk’s trail, but about a dozen steps behind Matt, left us with the impression that they weren’t terribly bright, which isn’t really fair to the actors. Deborah Ann Woll did some really good work, so here’s hoping that next season gives her more meaty material.
The red costume
The badly-lit promo photo that was our first look at the costume did the suit a service, since it doesn’t look as clearly bad in the season finale—but it’s still not great. Melvin said that the armor wasn’t totally complete, so perhaps we’ll see something a little less goofy in The Defenders and season two.
The season finale perfectly escalated the show’s drama and imagery, transforming the series into a full-blown superhero show for the first time—and it felt earned.
“Nelson v. Murdock”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Foggy said. “You’re going to sit here and explain to me everything that the audience already knows.”
With season two getting a new pair of showrunners, I’m hoping that Daredevil is allowed to go full MCU and be the true superhero show that it was in the finale. The last shot of Matt jumping off the roof, batons held aloft, seemed like a promise for the future. Fingers crossed!
Season One Recaps