It’s kind of fitting that Marvel Studios and Netflix have come together for a television program, considering how they’re two entertainment companies changing the face of entertainment today. Both had plans that sounded crazy when they first started; creating a shared universe across multiple films and a streaming service dedicated to original film and television content may seem commonplace today, but they most surely were not even five years ago.
Both have not only fulfilled their plans, but pulled them off to humongous amounts of success. How fitting then that the new Marvel Television program, Daredevil, be distributed by Netflix, especially since such a quality program like this can only benefit the two entities. Yep folks, I’m pleased to say that Daredevil so far is delivering, and then some, on it’s potential. These first two episodes, both written by Drew Goddard, accomplish what all TV shows must do in their early stories (lay the groundwork for a rich universe of tales to tell) while also providing some compelling storytelling in their own right.
None of the exposition for the world Matt Murdoch (Charlie Cox) inhabits overwhelm the opportunity to get to know him and his cohorts better, which is delightful considering how affable several members of the cast are. Cox, the shows leading man, does a great job in the Murdoch persona, managing to be likable in everyday conversations with people like Foggy Nelson (Elden Heson), but also delivering a bit of an intimidating presence in his duties as a lawyer, his primary occupation by day.
By night, he’s Daredevil, a vigilante dressed in black who prowls the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen, looking to take down thugs and criminals. In the first episode, it doesn’t take long at all for this personality to debut, and it takes a similarly short amount of time for his alter-ego’s violent driven nature to be unveiled. In his first action sequence, which consists of him taking out some thugs at a harbor like area, I felt a humongous amount of relief, as my concerns that the shows action scenes (which center around a dude dressed in black fighting villains at night) would be visually incoherent were wiped off the face of the Earth. The fighting in this scene is sharp, agile and beautifully choreographed. Daredevil’s various punches and kicks have a sort of sharp style to them, but they also manage to reflect his vulnerability in combat by having injuries he gets influence his fighting.
That leads to a lot of layers in the action scenes, which makes them perfect match to the more emotional moments in the show. Look no further than the second episode of the show, Cut Man, which is my favorite of these two stories. Actually, to be frank, I was kind of head over heels for this 50 minute narrative, which combines two plotlines (Daredevil searching for the kidnappers of a child and his dad, Jack Murdock, preparing for a big boxing match) that have an enormous amount of duality to them. Jack, played by John Patrick Hayden, takes up boxing as a profession in order to keep a roof over Matt’s head, taking and committing violence for a greater good.
That’s the sort of ideology that drives Matt in his Daredevil personality, a point hammered home by the fact that both Matt and his father are shady in what they consider to be deeds driven by morality (Matt commits tremendous acts of violence in the morally questionable, to put it lightly, role of a vigilante as Daredevil, while his father does some unsavory betting on wrestling matches). Jack’s strength as a character is only heightened by my second favorite scene (I’ll talk about my first shortly, don’t worry) of the show so far, which is in Cut Man, where Jack walks into the ring of a fateful wrestling match. An element of triumph hangs over the scene, but it’s overwhelmed by a far more prominent scene of tragedy that lingers with a viewer long after it’s finished,
It’s a well done sequence, bolstered by the shows visual style (that reminded me of Hannibal for some reason) that’s constantly top-notch. Speaking of top-notch, the time has come to talk about the absolute best scene of the show thus far, also in the second episode, that depicts Daredevil delivers primal violence in the small space of a hallway, all in one single shot. It’s powerfully depicted, with the camera never breaking away from all the carnage unfolding in this tiny environment. helping it to leave a tremendous impact on both the audience and the characters. Another major factor making the scene work so well is seeing Matt begin to grow weary over the course of the fight, which makes him combative resilience all the more engaging. It’s a thoughtful and incredible sequence that makes me eager to see if the rest of the show matches this quality. Even if it didn’t, well, at least we’d have an extraordinary episode of television like Cut Man.