I know, I know. I’m ages behind the times…
But I finally caught the first season of Daredevil, which as I understand it is the first of the ‘street level’ MCU shows.
And my gosh do Marvel want to take their series in a different direction than the movies. Sure Jessica Jones was heavy on the disturbing rapey torment, but quite frankly Daredevil had it’s share of stuff too, multiple fatalities, including one dude who self-impaled his skull on a sharp post.
Anyway I really liked this series (intentional segue or unrelated you decide). The action sequences were great, the aesthetics and imagery on point, but what really stood out for me was the characters. The whole cast were well acted, written and generally fleshed out. I don’t think there were any scenes or sequences where I was like ‘not this person again’ everyone had a part to play and were 3 dimensional enough to make it enjoyable. (although I will say that this ironically made Matt Murdoch/Daredevil himself kinda the least interesting character, but more on that soon)
The show had a real Batman Begins vibe, capturing ‘The Devil of Hells Kitchen’ as he tries to make sense of how to fight crime beyond just punching local thugs.
Something that really stood out for me was the characterization of Wilson Fisk (Kingpin) and Matt, both characters were shown to apparently want to make Hell’s Kitchen better both characters had similar aspects to their childhood’s (underage drinking anyway) and these similarities and contrasts really made the tension between them.
Which brings me to some of the stuff that didn’t quite gel. (SPOILERS)
I actually found Daredevil’s character kind of lame. The main thrust of his tension is that he is struggling with the thought of killing Wilson Fisk, and can’t work out how else to bring him down. The main problem I had with this was we were simply told this conflict by Daredevil himself in ‘confession’ which kinda made the tension very ‘telly’ and boring especially given that he didn’t really have any opportunity to kill Fisk anyway. Unlike Jessica Jones who had many opportunities to off Kilgrave but chose not too, Daredevil never really got the chance to kill Fisk so the drama felt like it only existed in Matt Murdoch’s head.
It seemed like the show was a big hypocrite, given that Daredevil has a ‘no kill policy’ yet even the other bad guys point out that Daredevil threw one guy off a building resulting in a coma. There was actually a great opportunity to explore a little further the idea of whether leaping around the streets punching people actually helped at all but I think the writers were stuck between trying for realism and staying true to source material, ergo having to present a morally confused MC.
Another problem was the overarching pacing. Most of the episodes were pretty good, as mentioned before all the stories were consistently enjoyable and there were very few boring moments. But taken as a whole the series just felt a little out of kilter. Episodes 5 and 6 probably carry the height of tension, where Daredevil is almost arrested and is blamed for several explosions and cop murders, yet immediately after we a have some Season 2 bait, then the plot arc sort of meanders with Daredevil being a (in theory severely) wanted man, i.e. if the authorities really thought he’d blown up several buildings within NY city I suspect a few more bodies would have been brought in to capture him.
Finally I have to spend some time slagging off the final episode. Aside from the above complaints the series had run on pretty well, and I was pretty keen to see how the story resolved itself.
Answer: coincidence and convenient timing.
In Fisk’s storyline we learn his money handler attempted to kill his GF in order to make Fisk more focused on business. In a completely reckless and uncharacteristic move, the money handler dude meets with Fisk in a dark alley, confesses that he did so, and attempts to blackmail Fisk into allowing him to leave due to having one of Fisk’s dirty cops ready to confess all to the FBI. The back-up plan was logical – the outright confession to Fisk, a known killer and generally unstable guy not so much.
But it doesn’t end there. Following this revelation, Fisk of course wants to hunt down the dirty cop, and what happens? Matt just happens to be at the police station when some other dirty cops mention it and snaps him up first.
So after 12 episodes of establishing Fisk as an invincible media darling billionaire that the good guys are going to have to work out an ingenious way of defeating and/or outright kill to end his criminal empire, we basically see Fisk brought down by his own ally in a sequence of events that required the bad guys making monumentally bad decisions the good guys just happening to be in the right place at the right time. Not to mention just how unlikely it is that the testimony of one detective confession he’d been brought is unlikely to result in any let alone speedy arrest of almost everyone else involved including Fisk.
I guess my point is the emotional beats are perfect, the contextual ones completely frustrating.
Not going to lie though, looking forward to season 2 (for some reason)