6 Thoughts on the First Season of Daredevil
Like most comic book geeks, I binge-watched the new Daredevil TV show on Netflix this past weekend and loved it. The action, the acting, the storytelling, the superheroics all came together for an amazing show, just like we all hoped it would be. And Daredevil is just the beginning of Marvel’s foray into prestige television, with several more Netflix shows lined up. I couldn’t be happier that Marvel is doing for TV what they did for movies.
In lieu of an episode-by-episode review or anything more substantial, I’ve decided to devote this week’s List of Six to my thoughts on the season. I’ve been doing similar lists for the other superhero TV shows, with Arrow, Flash and Agents of SHIELD coming later this spring.
So join me after the jump for my rambling, ramshackle review of the first season of Daredevil! I will try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum, but no promises.
6. This show is pretty darn incredible
Right off the bat, the show is great. If I were rating the season like I do everything else, I’d give it a solid 9/10. Daredevil doesn’t join the pantheon of greatest TV shows ever, in my book, but it easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best. Daredevil is just a well-made, well-acted TV show. It fits snugly in with the rest of the ‘Prestige TV’ we’re getting these days. Seriously, we are living in a wonderful age of television right now. There are so many good shows out there, from cartoons to dramas. Perhaps we have crappy reality TV to thank. After people got their fill of that garbage, they started craving good, scripted TV, and now we have a ton of it!
But speaking of Daredevil specifically, I loved this show. I loved the gritty, down-to-Earth feeling without getting too grim or serious. There was always time for Foggy Nelson to add a little levity, or for Matt Murdock to be a human being. And they did the grit right, using the blood and the shadows and the streets to propel the story and the drama. This show wasn’t violent for violence’s sake, this show used violence and fighting and badassery to define its characters and their lives.
And the drama was just as good too. This wasn’t just a random superhero punching bad guys. Matt Murdock was wracked with emotion and guilt and conflicting feelings on every angle. He’s a deep and fascinating character, making his vigilante brand of justice something special. And when up against a villain as amazing as this show’s Wilson Fisk, it’s even better. Nearly everything about this show is pitch perfect.
It’s times like these that I wish I had some kind of critical training, because I wish I could make my words sound gooder in describing this cool show.
5. I dig the costume, mostly
In all honesty, I think I liked the black costume better. The red suit looks great, and I’m grateful that Daredevil didn’t just Smallville us, with Matt Murdock putting on the suit in the last minute of the show. But I think waiting so long to reveal his new suit may have hurt. I got so used to seeing the black outfit in action, so used to that being the vigilante, that when he suddenly switched to something more theatrical, it was a little jarring. Daredevil just didn’t seem like a world where elaborate superhero costumes were a thing. Maybe if they’d gradually shifted from black underarmor to his eventual superhero costume, with little updates along the way. Or maybe they could have drawn a line connecting Daredevil’s costume with that of, say, Captain America.
Still, I’m not complaining. The new Daredevil costume definitely works. I wonder if we’ll ever get to see it in the light of day.
4. Perfect villains
Vincent D’Onofrio is phenomenal as series villain Wilson Fisk. Everyone who’s written words about Daredevil this past week has mentioned this, and I’m not going to be any different. The casting and the character are perfect on this show. He’s not some mustache-twirling super-villain. He’s a real human being with real hopes, dreams, emotions, loves and everything else. That he’s brutal and violent is part of who he is, and we’re even shown flashbacks to where his rage came from. The show runners knew they needed to really flesh out their lead villain, and they took the time and effort to make it happen. That is quality planning.
He’s also chillingly effective at what he does. He’s got so many plans, so many twists to his plans, that it’s a marvel Daredevil makes it out alive. That sudden, impromptu press conference was a masterstroke.
Fisk is then surrounded by some great supporting villains, each very different from him. There’s the charming street thug Turk, the jerkassish money man Leland and the mysterious and deadly Lady Gao. Each one is pretty amazing in their own right. I especially liked Wesley, Fisk’s assistant, and their friendship. That helped to humanize both men as being much more than just boss and henchman. Daredevil doesn’t necessarily get to go up against all of these villains, but the Fisk/Daredevil rivalry is more than enough to carry the season. Here’s hoping he’s back for Season 2.
3. Supporting characters were amazing
I liked the supporting cast as much as I liked the villains! People don’t seem to be happy with Foggy Nelson, but I thought he was great. His friendship with Matt was a real treat and helped to humanize our hero. And Foggy was consistently funny. I liked Karen Page, whose victimization wasn’t used to push our male hero forward, it was used to push Karen forward. She had her own plots, subplots, twists and great moments. She wasn’t just a love interest. I’m actually really happy that we didn’t get some Matt/Karen/Foggy love triangle. That would have been too easy.
I loved Ben Urich, the grizzled newspaper reporter. Being one myself, he was a man after my own heart. He added a nice extra layer to the goings on. I also liked Rosario Dawson as the Night Nurse. It’s a shame that she didn’t appear more often, and I never really bought into the Matt/Claire romance, but she was a really cool character who handled her part as semi-sidekick very well. This was a top notch cast all around.
2. Needed more personal life/legal drama
I watched Daredevil in two parts: the first six episodes in one night, the remaining seven the next night. And after that first night, I had one big complaint about the series: Matt was spending too much time as the vigilante! That seems like an insane complaint, but it was true. I wanted to see Matt Murdock spend more time with his friends or more time in the courtroom. The former evened out a bit in the back half of the series, but the last time Nelson & Murdock stepped into a courtroom was the second episode. That wasn’t enough for me.
My driving mantra for superheroes is ‘people first, superheroes second’. And while Daredevil did an amazing job with Matt the vigilante, they didn’t do so well with Matt the person or Matt the attorney. Foggy and Karen were great characters, but they were constantly trying to call Matt to get him to hang out. The first episode did an amazing job setting up the three of them as a great team, especially Matt and Foggy. But that team fell apart towards the end, and only came back together in the last episode or so. I missed that team. I wanted to see more of it. But Daredevil only had so much time, and they put the focus on the superheroics — which is fine, I understand. But I would have loved a lot more courtroom drama and best friend banter.
Also, while the relationship with Claire was fine, we never really saw Matt’s apparently infamous way with women. Foggy was constantly bringing it up, and Matt would smile, but we never saw it in action. That’s the classic ‘show, don’t tell’ mistake.
None of these gripes broke the show for me. There was a lot more personal drama in the back half of the season, and that helped give Matt more to worry about. But if I have one complaint against Daredevil, it would be this.
1. They need to get working on Season 2 ASAP
We are all very lucky in that Daredevil was only the beginning. Later this year, we’ll get the Jessica Jones TV show. Next year are Luke Cage and Iron Fist. And then in 2017, we’ll get the Defenders show, bringing them all together. That sounds pretty amazing, especially since there’s no reason why any of those shows won’t be as good as Daredevil, if not better. Daredevil is proof that these creative teams aren’t half-assing this project. They are going full-tilt with the Marvel quality on these Netflix shows, so it’s going to be a great few years.
And it would be even better if Marvel and Netflix got to work immediately on a second season for Daredevil. Why not? What do they have to lose?
One of the great things about these Netflix shows is that they are all separate shows with separate show-runners and creators. The people who made Daredevil are not the same people who are making A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The actors, especially, are completely different. So what’s to stop Daredevil from making a second season right now and releasing it alongside Luke Cage and Iron Fist next year? Why make the fans wait until they get through the Defenders before we get more solo Daredevil action?
It’s not like Netflix follows traditional TV seasons. All 13 episodes of Daredevil were released on one day, and we all watched them in an awesome marathon weekend. I don’t know how Netflix works, but they clearly planned this kind of release schedule and it works for them. And it can work for us. I know I’m not the only one that wants the Daredevil people to get back to work and pop out another season! You’ve struck gold, people! So keep digging!
What did you think of Daredevil? Love it? Hate it? Do you want to see more? What’d you think of the costume? Let me know in the comments!