Netflix Special review: Marvel’s Daredevil

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He’s ripped. He’s bad to the bone. He can take out an entire gang by himself. And he’s been blind since he was a boy.

Marvel’s Daredevil is the latest addition to the expansive Marvel Universe of entertainment. Starring Charlie Cox as Daredevil/Matt Murdock, the show’s first season premiered as a Netflix exclusive April 10, 2015. The show begins with his tragic origin story, where a young Matt saves a man from being run over by barrels of nuclear waste. Unfortunately, he trips and falls, and Matt’s father arrives just in time to see his son go blind from radioactive material in his eyes.

The show soon reveals that a now middle-aged Matt fights crime as a masked vigilante, using his enhanced remaining senses to perform acrobatic and pugilistic feats. The true-to-life themes never let up, as the show is full of gory close combat, torture, knife fights, smashed faces and other tasty tidbits from Hell’s Kitchen, NY. By day, however, Matt Murdock runs a new law firm with his partner in crime Foggy Nelson, who also provides most of the comic relief.

Beneath the deadly set-ups, pulse-pounding chases and entangling lawsuits, there is a clever re-imagining of one of Marvel’s least celebrated characters. The show aims to be “grittier” and “darker” than the 2003 movie that fell flat, with more twisted villains and a more realistic portrayal of a crimefighter’s life. The superhero Daredevil is, in fact, no longer super. Executive producer Steven S. DeKnight told Paste Magazine why the production crew made this choice.

“He’s not super strong. He’s not invulnerable,” DeKnight said. “In every aspect, he’s a man that’s just pushed himself to the limits, he just has senses that are better than a normal human’s. He is human.”

This humanity is at the core of the show’s premise, comparable to what made the Dark Knight trilogy such a fresh take on the superhero genre.

Matt would not have become the hero he is without the physical and emotional tragedies he suffered as a child. After going blind, he learned to always persevere from his father, who was a small-time boxer. He learned self-discipline by teaching himself braille. He learned to control his heightened senses until he could distinguish truth and lies by listening to a person’s heartbeat.

Arguably, Daredevil does the best job of any running superhero franchise when it comes to the reasons for becoming a hero, but this can give the show an overly dark tone at times.

In the second episode, Matt is beat half to death and left in a dumpster, and in the same episode a flashback shows his father being shot by corrupt boxing officials. Things just never seem to look up for Matt Murdock, and the only happiness he appears to have comes from his apparently numerous sexual encounters Foggy often jokes about.

Overall, Daredevil is a treat in the smorgasbord of bland television available. If you want a show with down-to-earth storytelling but plenty of high-flying action, this is the one. If you’re afraid of the dark, of blood or of screaming in the night, maybe you should stick with DC’s The Flash.

Join Daredevil’s escapades on Netflix. Look out for Season 2 coming next year.