This post and those that follow will include spoilers.
I was a big Daredevil fan for a while in the 1980s, picking it up at the Elektra issues somewhere in the 160s and reading on to some point in the 250s. A big part of that time period was dominated by Frank Miller, if that helps you to orient. Packed away somewhere, I have a copy of issue 200 with the cover autographed by Frank Miller, though his pen didn’t work all that well. A sharpie would have been better.
I chose the comic because I wanted to closely follow something else besides X-Men, and I happened to find several back issues at once, on one of those revolving racks at the drugstore, one Sunday night. They were a little bent from the rack, but I decided not to mind; this was to read, not collect. I liked the art: Daredevil’s lean, clean lines, and the acrobatic style of his fighting. I was intrigued by the dramatic Elektra covers.
At that point in my life, I had never been farther north than Washington, D.C., so New York City might as well have been a myth. For that reason, to me the show does not have to relate to the Real New York. It’s in Comicslandia, where Hell’s Kitchen never turned into Gentrificationlandia.
I haven’t read the comic in decades. I do want to read the Brian Michael Bendis run at some point. Anyway, now you know why I wanted to be sure and watch the Netflix adaptation. Which I will finally get to discussing now!
I’ve been watching episodes with longish intervals in between, to give me time to write them up. Unless I state otherwise, each episode’s commentary was written a day or so after watching it, with as few spoilers for future episodes as possible.
1. I am going to allow them to handwave legal issues. I am not a lawyer at all, and even I know…well, anyway. “Innocent clients”?! Never mind. Nope. That is not the point of this show. Daredevil beating up bad guys is the point of this show.
2. The criminal gangs are somewhat diverse. The villains include: two white guys who speak standard TV English; one elderly Chinese woman who speaks Mandarin; one Japanese guy (Daredevil comics canon has ninjas, so maybe they’re his?); and two Eastern Europeans who are also white guys but have heavy accents – the Balkans are mentioned, but maybe they are supposed to be Russian mafia, since that’s the cliche of the moment. No Hispanic gang, and no black gang, at least not yet, though one black guy appears to be employed by the Russians.
3. The female gangleader is the only female character in the episode who does not become a victim in one way or another. Karen Page has been an active character so far, but has also been acted upon. The comic was terrible for killing off women, so I don’t have high hopes in this regard.
4. I like the actors, though I want to reach through the screen and wash Foggy’s hair and give him a haircut. Also, I thought Charlie Cox was faking his American accent. (I checked, he is – he’s faking it well, though.)
5. Where in the world did Matt and Foggy get the money for an office, if they have had no clients? A grant? Did Matt’s dad sue the chemical company after Matt’s childhood accident and put the money in trust?
6. The blind person stuff could be a lot worse? I liked that Foggy and Matt’s long friendship is partly shown by him telling Matt about visual body language cues if that’s needed, without needing to be asked.
7. Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) has not yet appeared except as a voice from the front seat of a car. His right hand man, though, was nicely evil and the actor has a terrific movie-trailer voice. Kingpin could be a way to tie this show into the new version of Spiderman set for the movies, as well.
8. Innocents suffering at the hands of big money/crime, I can tell, is going to be a big part of this show, which thematically harks back to the comic I remember. There’s more rage from Daredevil than in the comic, though.
9. There’s been no mention of Stick so far (Matt’s mentor). But I liked how, at the end of the episode, Matt is shown boxing in an empty gym, a connection to his father’s career.
10. The fight scenes are terrific. I like fight scenes, and these are beautifully choreographed and filmed examples. They are brutal at times, so be warned if you abhor tv violence.
I found episode two much more gripping than episode one, probably because all of it was character-building, including the final, stumbling, exhausted fight scene.
1. Rosario Dawson as Claire was terrific. Her scenes with Charlie Cox absolutely thrummed with tension on several levels. I will be extremely sad if this character doesn’t come back at some point, especially since superheroes definitely need their own medic. What a great way to use the Night Nurse character from Marvel comics!
2. This episode explored side effects and consequences of vigilantism. Though the most obvious was the physical suffering Daredevil endured from being ambushed, there’s also his somewhat unconvincing assertion that he enjoys violence, Claire’s ennumeration of injuries he’s inflicted that have passed through her emergency room, and the uncomfortable notion of violence begetting even more violence.
3. The flashback plot to Matt’s father, the boxer, being repeatedly pounded in the ring to support his son resonated with the A plot in complex ways. Battlin’ Jack is ground down by endless defeats in life, and the choice he ultimately makes, though it saves his soul, leaves Matt without a father. Which is worse: a dead father who scored a final victory, or a living father, who will continue to fail but still be around to provide love to his son? I think the latter course is far more difficult and rewarding, but perhaps Jack just had nothing left to give. Or: Jack wanted his son to be proud of him, and took the dramatic course to achieve that, but I think his final victory was more for himself than for his son. Matt already was proud of his father, and his hope for the future had not yet been crushed.
4. Foggy and Karen were absolutely adorable together. I still want to make Foggy wash his hair, though.
5. I wonder if the money Jack won actually made it to Matt, eventually? Or did the Irish mobsters track it down and steal it? Is that how Matt and Foggy afford an office?
On to episode 3!