Sunday, July 16, 2017

Marvel's Daredevil - Season 1 (2015)

Marvel's Daredevil is based upon the comic book character of the same name.  Also set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), this is a mostly self-contained story set in the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen.  There are thirteen roughly 50 mins episodes which is comprised of one singular story arc.  Daredevil cuts to the chase.  It has a brief beginning to show how the protagonist, Matthew Murdock, was blinded as a kid via chemicals splashing into his eyes.  It then skips to the present day, after the Battle of New York from The Avengers, where Murdock and his best friend and partner, Foggy, have just opened up a defence attorney firm.  While it doesn't directly tie into other series of the MCU, there are small references to other Marvel superheroes which are amusing.

For those unfamiliar with the character, Murdock has another persona, a vigilante.  The thing that makes him unique is that in addition to being very adept at martial arts, he is also blind.  Therefore, many scenes plays into the blind aspect such as the beating of hearts when determining whether someone is lying, and using audio cues to preempt attacks by enemies (e.g. dodging bullets or chains).  Thanks to the chemicals, while Murdock lost his sight, all his other senses are heightened and it is great during fight scenes showing how he relies on these other senses to realize what his attack is going to do.  This is also his weakness since some enemies can distract him via loud noises to mask what they are doing.

There are a lot of fight scenes, all of which are well planned out and don't repeat the same motions again and again.  Towards the middle of the season, Daredevil starts to have gory-ish scenes.  It's mostly just cold-blooded murder or brutal surprise deaths.  A lot of the scenes take place at night, so it is harder to make out details at times.  Murdock can seem overpowered, to the point where you expect him to easily get out of any scenario he finds himself in.  However, on the flip side, he does get hurt quite often; requiring patch-ups and this even affects his fighting prowess at times.  The plot is a slow build up, since Murdock spends the vast majority of the season in a black shirt and mask.  The viewer is kept waiting for a long time until he gets his iconic red armor/costume.

Since the season is one big story arc, there is one main antagonist.  We only get to see his lackey early on while the real mastermind is kept in the shadows.  You'll be kept wondering how it all ties together as all the crimes that Murdock encounters seems connected.  There is a tense moment from episode five, where the plot threads start to entwine together and we can finally start seeing the bigger picture.  The antagonist has substantial character development.  He isn't evil just because we were told so.  He has a surprisingly softer side and an odd relationship to his helper.  However, he is also mentally unstable, thanks to a troubled childhood.  He is petty, with the way he kills being brutal and unfair.  You can't wait until Murdock takes justice.

Later episodes reveal more of the background and how Murdock and Foggy met, partnered and created their law firm.  It forms part of a typical plot twist where Murdock reveals his true identity and has to live with how his friends sees him, and whether they accept that.  With that said, there are a lot of characters introduced who doesn't have happy endings, which kind of sucks.  The deaths of some of the minor villains are also unsatisfactory.  One of the more unbelievable parts is how the police force is heavily infiltrated and corrupted.  It is to the point where it seems like the whole force is under the antagonist's control and they can do anything they want.

Yet Daredevil has an anticlimactic end.  You want the antagonist to be hurt really badly and suffer for all the things that he's done but it feels like he is let off quite easily.  It feels that his whole operation was flimsy and brought down too easily.  You would have expected that someone like him, would have layers and layers of backup plans, such that no one can have enough evidence or testify against him.  Overall, Marvel's Daredevil is much more low key and grounded than the Marvel movie counterparts.  There are very little supernatural or extraordinary powers.  This results in a more realistic atmosphere and tone, plus being darker, more gory and less reliance on light humor.  The slower pace with the buildup leaves some to be desired, and some people would have preferred the faster pacing of the movies, but Marvel's Daredevil is a solid series.


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