The Netflix ‘Daredevil’ Is Astonishingly Good
April 12th, 2015

I’m only a few episodes in, but the Netflix Daredevil is an amazing piece of work. It’s instantly my second-favorite cinematic depiction of a superhero and if there’s any justice in the world, it’ll be a big hit. A few thoughts, in no specific order:

* It’s really dark. Literally. You almost have to watch it with the lights out if you have an LCD or LED screen; it rewards people with plasma because it’s shot with so much black.

* It’s also dark in the narrative sense.

* At times it feels like an R-rated version of an early Law & Order episode.

* From the beginning, Daredevil was conceived as Marvel’s answer to Batman. In the hands of different writers, that parallel has been sometimes more, and sometimes less, explicit. The Netflix Daredevil might as well be Matt Murdock: Year One.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the second episode contains my favorite line of Batman dialogue ever to make the screen. Murdock (who doesn’t even have the Daredevil monicker yet) has taken a Chechen gangster prisoner on the roof of a building. The guy is part of a human trafficking ring which has recently abducted a 7-year-old boy and is about to sell him into (heavily implied) sexual slavery. Murdock beats the living crap out of him in the course of an interrogation, including sliding a knife behind the guy’s eyeball. Makes the Batman-Joker interrogation room scene look like patty-cake.

Anyway, the Chechen guy eventually breaks (which of course would never happen in the real world because torture never, ever leads to good information!) and Murdock hauls him over to the edge of the roof, gets up into his face and whispers to him:

“This is important. Shhhh. . . Shhhhh . . . Listen—I need you to know why I’m hurting you. It’s not just the boy. I’m doing this because I enjoy it.”

And this plays even more badass than it sounds.

* In general, Charlie Cox’s Murdock is great. The perfect combination of charming, cunning, self-righteous, and slightly smug. Very much the Daredevil of the comics.

* The writers have made important changes to Jack Murdock, but I like them.

* The Catholic humor is great.

* The combat stuff is brutal. Really brutal. There’s a scene in episode 1.2 that’s an obvious homage to Old Boy.

I’ll have more thoughts as I get deeper into the series. But you should run, not walk, to this thing.

  1. Jeff Peterson April 12, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    It’s all good fun until someone gets an eye put out … from having a KNIFE SLID BEHIND THEIR EYEBALL!!!

    I may just have to content myself with watching “The Dark Knight” yet again.

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  3. Judith April 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I’m kind of with Jeff, in that repeated references to how brutal the combat is, isn’t quite the ringing endorsement to my ears that you perhaps intended. However, over at Pajiba they’re also in favor, calling it the best superhero show ever, so I’m going to give it a try.

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  5. James Versluys April 13, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Anyone notice (speaking from having seen the first three episodes) that SuperHero shows no longer have much…superhero stuff?

    This one: the super power of…kicking the shit outta dudes. Ok, he has ears that are…good. And he has the SuperFooFooJuiceNose.

    This is a trend. I remember the one where the guy who was batman now plays an homage in birdman: and his big potential superpower is levitating in a trance…maybe.

    Batman: Gadgets, right? But the show barely gets away with being a Daniel-Craig era “not exactly Christmas, is it?” non-gadget extravaganza. Yes, there’s a tank and a rumbler. And some knives. But that’s it. His big super hero thing is that he’s…um, tough.

    Let me put it this way: how much more SuperHero-y is Marvel’s Daredevil over, say, Better Call Saul?
    How much precisely separates the two?

    Gotham: How much superhero stuff is in it? The guy plays…a boy scout cop. Not even the villains…

    They’re getting good because they’re not super heroes any more.

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  7. Fake Herzog April 14, 2015 at 8:24 pm


    Daredevil was always Marvel’s ‘weakest’ superhero, in the sense that compared to Iron Man or Captain America or my goodness, Thor or the Hulk, he doesn’t have a chance. On the other hand, that gives the writers a chance to explore more human, grounded stories. However, I think superhero stories are fun either way — sometimes you want a gritty, more realistic tale and sometimes you want Hulk beating up on aliens/Loki. It’s a balance.


    The blog is getting better design-wise. Meanwhile, I’m on episode seven, and so far for my money the best thing about the series besides Cox is Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. You’ll get much more of him as the series progresses but needless to say, he is just perfect for the role and might even be the greatest Marvel villain created on screen so far. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I thought the actor who plays “Stick” was calling it in.

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  9. Nedward April 15, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    By the late 80s DD no longer fit w/ the Marvel lineup because it was so noirish. Even as a teenager I thought it was a relatively grim title, and I was reading it before Frank Miller’s run (which was very good, almost approaching art in some cases). But it seemed like a cheesy single-gimmick book in the 70s, not exactly “Marvel’s Batman.” Maybe it’s the aftertaste of the collector-fueled X-Men bubble in the 90s but I will never be able to take eclectic outsider mutants seriously no matter how many “deep canon” movies they release. Compared to that DD is like an Arthur Miller play

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  11. Fake Herzog April 15, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    We haven’t even started talking about the other crazed, tortured soul Catholic “superhero” who is worse than Daredevil — the Punisher. Maybe Marvel needs to acquire those rights and bring him back into their universe, as both movies to date were pretty bad.

    I actually prefer the Punisher as a villain and enjoyed Daredevil or Spiderman (who is coming back to Marvel!) fighting him as someone who was unacceptably killing the bad guys.

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  13. James Versluys April 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    Herzog: I agree, he is the weakest superhero, and this seems to be what I was speaking about. Superman was so, so, so, so hard to make into a modern good movie because he was basically too strong, too much superhero. There weren’t any fisticuffs with local thugs: Superman would just walk through the local thugs, literally. He wouldn’t be slowed by actually walking through their atoms.

    Daredevil did to SuperHero-y stuff what Game of Thrones did to JRR Tolkein’s magic and monsters: Daredevil’s creators made his superhero power hidden, hinted at, rarely glimpsed and behind the more interesting normal fictional tropes.

    The Daredevil does what all these new ones do: Normal fictional story genre questions of human nature, human dealings, corruption, good and evil, or Balzac-ian commentary on how humans work together politically or whatever else used to be fiction’s core. The important part is…there is little or no superhero.

    For instance, how does Daredevil see? You get one single glimpse: of a world on fire! Awesome! For just two seconds. Everything else is hinted at.

    It’s awesome when it happens! Just like Game of Thrones last season with the attack on the wall and big huge scythes that kill people trying to climb the wall and giants and cool stuff: stuff you’ve basically been waiting for for….how many seasons now? Three? Three seasons just to see some cool JRR Tolkein fights?

    Yes, it was all great Game of Thrones action, magic and giants in a battle, but it was just the Money Shot after three and a half seasons. The rest of it was “Yew knyow nyothing, Jyhohn Snyow!” and Hodor holding a kid who dreams. The only other Big Reveal was a normal battle with “green fire” and PTSD. That’s not magic or giants or dragons. That’s just normally well done fiction.

    I don’t think it’s a balance. I think they get away with awesome superheroes by ignoring super hero powers and just getting good stories. It almost seems awesome in direct opposition to how much super-magic-goodie-awesome stuff there is in it. That does not seem like a balance to me.