I love, love, love Marvel. Let's be honest here. That is why I scheduled my day off specifically to watch all the episode after midnight and only took a four hour sleep break midway through so - you know - my eyes wouldn't bleed. That is to say, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find can find a bigger supporter of the Netflix series' going forward than myself.
Now let's also be honest again, I don't think Daredevil is nearly as good as people say it is. Let me explain. Though before that, what the heck is this show about?
A little, innocent kid named Matthew Murdock is one day blinded by radioactive material when pushing a man out of the way of moving truck. So he develops superhuman abilities... Yeah...that's what happens to all kids who do that, right? Anyway, all of his other senses are heightened to the nth degree allowing him to hear, smell, visualize, and react to things with lightning precision. Later on - without spoiling anything - he decides to fight crime in Hell's Kitchen, New York by being a lawyer by day, and a masked vigilante by night. Not much more needs to be said other than this is a much darker take on the Marvel hero than has ever been seen in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).
Before I go full-metal jacket negative with what I don't like, let's be positive. Daredevil is the type of show many of us have been waiting for. Many of us having been dying inside, yearning for a darker twist on the MCU. Not to say we don't enjoy the other lighter hearted properties like Guardians of the Galaxy, and Iron Man. Every once in a while though we crave darker, grittier takes on the superhero genre without substituting style, action, and substance. I'm more than glad to say the show doesn't try to mask the uglier parts in substitute for a more family friendly mentality. Daredevil accepts the better parts of it's source material and brings something fresh, and entertaining while still treading familiar ground (à la Batman Begins).
Much of this comes from the writing, as it puts Daredevil above many series of its kind. The story is creatively original while still remaining faithful to its source material, with dialogue that rings true. It is provocative, well thought out, and executed with calculated precision while still feeling organic. This careful consideration of character intent, extends to the rest of the story as we care about the characters because they actually have real tribulation to work through. The heroes are just so well drawn out and fleshed out, but more than that its the antagonists that make the show worth watching.
When it comes to great villains, many want to point to Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin, played by Vincent D'Onofrio - which I'll get to later - but the real stand out is Wesley played by Toby Leonard Moore. He is the level headed, right hand man to Fisk. His demeanor and overall tone is so calculated, cool, funny, and even warm that one couldn't help but root for him even if he's on the wrong side. Every scene he was in, I paid that much more attention to what's going on - not that I wasn't paying attention in the first place. . .
Then of course there is Kingpin. Vincent D'Onofrio is an experienced enough of an actor so he is able to hit most of the high notes of emotional diversity. He doesn't always hit them, as is the case with a couple others, but his great moments are enough to compensate for any minor lapse in believability. What he does best is providing the physicality that is needed from his character. His comic book counterpart is ridiculously enormous for a normal human, so D'Onofrio had a huge task of pulling off the same intimidation. I'm more than glad to say he was up for the part. Most physicality required from him feels not only genuinely believable, but terrifying as well.
Our protagonists are also quite good. Charlie Cox playing Matthew Murdock, aka Daredevil, shows a vulnerability and a fierce resolve which is more than needed from such a dark tale. The show in many ways rests on how much we care for his character, and he provides someone who is warm and endearing enough to empathize with his struggles and weaknesses. He doesn't hit every high note of gravitas needed from him, but he hits enough these moments, that the ones he doesn't are easy to ignore.
Rosario Dawson playing Claire Temple, aka Night Nurse, is probably the most solid out of anyone providing a sympathetic and believable character that Daredevil can share enlightening and intimate conversations with. Everyone in the show for that matter is all pretty solid - whether it be the innate likeability, humour, and vulnerability of Murdock's closest (Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Ben Urich, Stick, etc.), or the close-knit band of villains who share a love hate relationship with each other.
Most everything in the show for that matter is quite solid. The lighting is impressive with the unrelenting color pallet of warm yellows and reds. The fight choreography is almost always fantastic. The music is emotionally resonant, and it's thought's on morality and spirituality are refreshing. It goes to powerful places that many shy away from. So why do I think the show is overrated?
The end half of Daredevil is horrendously paced. Let me repeat myself for full effect - HORRENDOUSLY PACED!!! Three episodes essentially all say the same thing. Yes, they are all a little different, but they all are asking the exact same questions about morality. Don't get me wrong, I love asking existential questions; but when they take away from the pace of anything and are redundant, it's time to throw them out. The creators must have held some of these episodes too near and dear to their heart though, because there was near to no focus.
This show would have been much better suited to eleven episodes or even ten episodes, but I have a feeling that was never in their discussions. Instead the emotional impact and and build up of the first six episodes is thrown out the window in substitute of a longer binge watch. I stopped caring, which is sad considering how invested I was with the characters to begin with. I wanted to love the finale more than I did, but I didn't. The emotional impact was forced, and I found myself shaking my head in amusement, wondering how things could have slid down hill so quickly.
Don't get me wrong, this is a heck of an entertaining show. The first season of Heroes and this are having a heavy debate for the most entertaining superhero TV season of all time. The end half of Daredevil though has some major pacing and editing issues that are frustrating to say the least. In fact, it is cringe worthy. Though, again there is so many things to like about the show. The mystery and intrigue sit well, the tone is dark and brooding in the best way, and the stylized yet realistic action is thrilling in execution. This likely is an indicator of what's to come (eg. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist). That is to say, all of Daredevil's better parts build up to something worth binge watching - just not rebingeing, because that's a real word, that I just made up.
Personal Preference: 3.75/5
Critical Analysis: 3.25/5