Friday, 10 April 2015

Marvel's Daredevil Premiere Episode Review

Today, I double-clicked on the Ol' Netflix and queued up the newest series to hit the streaming giant. 

Marvel's Daredevil stars Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire) as Matt Murdock, a blind defense attorney by day and an ass-kicking, masked vigilante by night. It also stars Elden Hensen as plucky sidekick "Foggy" Nelson and Deborah Ann Woll as damsel in distress Karen Page.

Daredevil is Marvel's first foray into a more serious, grounded television program. Netflix, with it's lack of commercials and shortened season structure, along with it's willingness to run PG-13 or even R rated with some of it's content, should lend itself very well to a property like Daredevil.

After watching the first episode, I can tell you that it does...and it doesn't.

First off, let me say I enjoyed the premiere quite a bit. This is definitely a departure from the rest of what Marvel has given us. Darker, grittier and much more violent, Daredevil takes some huge risks deviating from what's already been established. 

That's both it's blessing and it's curse.

It's nice to see them giving us another side to the Marvel Universe; one that isn't filled with fancy gadgets, ancient gods, huge government agencies or aliens. Hell's Kitchen, where Daredevil takes place, feels very real. Most of the colour has been bled out of the environment and it's nearly always raining. The entire setup is very moody and noir. 

The problem? It doesn't match up with anything else Marvel has done. Which really wouldn't be a problem if everything wasn't so interconnected. And before you start thinking that these shows on Netflix won't be tied very closely to the rest of the MCU, please take note there is not one, not two, but three direct references to the events that occurred in the first Avengers movie just in this premiere episode alone. In fact, the first one comes not 10 minutes in.

If Daredevil is going to be this dark, violent and gruesome show where it's hero seemingly takes some enjoyment from beating the snot out of the bad guys with his bare hands, how would that ever transfer over to the rest of the largely light and fluffy (and sometimes silly) Marvel universe? These properties are all supposed to take place within the same framework, but Daredevil feels like a completely different thing. This isn't necessarily bad, I might add. It just shows that, sometimes, it's okay to have standalone projects and not try to shoehorn the rest of your universe into everything you ever produce.

The foundation for a great show is all there. Performances were good. Cinematography was excellent. Casting seems spot on. 

There are some issues, though. Most of the fight scenes are far too choreographed. It looks more like a complicated dance off than a tough and gritty street fight a lot of the time. Murdock's partner Foggy is such a ridiculous cliched comic relief sidekick that it gets annoying almost immediately. Then there's the obligatory shirtless scene in the first 10 minutes and the very obvious product placement shots throughout (anyone suddenly feel like buying a Microsoft Surface tablet?).

But, overall, this first episode definitely sets the stage for a pretty cool show. Several story arcs are begun and we want to know where they're going. I'll be hanging around for a few more episodes at least.

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