There’s an ongoing joke about the Marvel Cinematic Universe that says that there’s never any blood shown in any of the action scenes. It rings true, for the most part since many of the action scenes in the feature films are very PG, and few are borderline PG-13 when it comes to violence. Marvel knows that although the films are wildly popular among adults, they are aware that there are a lot of kids that enjoy their movies, too. Drug and alcohol references are (mostly) kept to a minimum, nudity is nonexistent, and graphic violence is few and far between. This is great in the sense that it keeps Marvel films accessible to the family demographic, but it also leaves some people wanting more.
In the spring of 2015, Marvel’s Daredevil comes into the picture. It’s a dark, gritty, violent part of the MCU that hasn’t really been explored until now. To be honest, it was almost hard to believe that Daredevil takes place in the same universe as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. What’s really rewarding are the references to the Chitauri Invasion that we saw at the climax of The Avengers, which is referred to, as “the incident.” The tone of the show is slow but steady in its storytelling – which is perfect for binge-watching the hour-long episodes on Netflix.
The thing about Daredevil is that it’s obvious that Marvel took advantage of the freedom they have with their new partners at Netflix. Television ratings are a little bit different than their film counterparts. Daredevil, for example is rated TV-MA, which is suited for adults. According to tvguidelines.org, TV-MA shows are, “specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program may contain one or more of the following: crude indecent language (L), explicit sexual activity (S), or graphic violence (V).”
Where Daredevil really reflects this rating is in its fight scenes. They’re rough, bloody, raw, and realistic. The fight scenes don’t involve plasma blasts, infinity stones, maniacal robots, or magic hammers; these fight scenes involve real people hurting and killing real people.
Ultimately, that’s what makes Daredevil so great. While the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy are out fighting cosmic threats to the world and the universe, who takes care of a rough, run-down neighborhood in New York City? Daredevil shows us a tiny, tiny corner of the MCU and explores corruption on the municipal level.
With Netflix producing the show, it was almost guaranteed that the cinematography would be excellent, and it was. If you’ve seen any of the other Netflix originals, you know that Netflix knows how to make a show look beautiful, and Daredevil definitely looks gorgeous. Whether it’s the fight scenes or the strong and poignant way in which the emotions of the characters are conveyed through film, Netflix did an amazing job at making you feel like you were watching a feature film and not a show.
What sets apart a good show from a great one is it characterization, and one of the many things that this show does right is create some really compelling characters. Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox) plays the religious yet broken titular character. Matt is the suave blind lawyer who has superhuman senses and is a masked vigilante. The comedic chemistry between Matt and his best friend, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) is evident in the flashbacks (Avocados at law, anyone?). Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) is the broken, messy, and flawed female lead of the show, and her presence is felt deeply throughout the series. Her inclusion as one of the main characters is a welcomed one, which adds to the sense of family between her, Matt, and Foggy.
Lastly, what’s a superhero show without an equally intimidating villain? Vincent D’onofrio’s Wilson Fisk is a worthy and intimidating figure. He kills mercilessly, is violent beyond compare, and is ruthless and cold. However, despite all of this, he is one of the most well developed characters in the show. His desire for love, for connection with a woman, and his need for affirmation are so well explored, that I sometimes found myself feeling bad for him and even rooting for him. (Until the second to last episode, though. Without giving away any spoilers, all of the things that make up Fisk are shown in that episode, which is one of the best in the series.)
Daredevil is the first in a series of shows from the partnership between Marvel and Netflix. The second show, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, premiers this November, followed by a second season of Daredevil, Marvel’s Luke Cage, and Marvel’s Iron Fist. After the shows have premiered, our street heroes will unite Avenger’s style for Marvel’s The Defenders. As an avid Marvel fan, this partnership with Netflix is incredibly exciting, and I can’t wait to see the rest of what Netflix and Marvel have to offer.