If you haven’t watched Daredevil on Netflix yet, then you should start – right now.
One of Marvel’s supporting roster of superheroes, Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day who uses his enhanced other senses to fight crime at night.
Starring Charlie Cox – who also starred in one of my favourite films, Stardust – as Murdock, it is a pitch perfect example of what a superhero show should be in 2015. It has already been renewed for a second season.
Here’s five reasons why.
It’s what Gotham will never be but wants to be
On the surface they have much in common – the gritty location, the mob battles, the focus on street crime with a difference and the masked vigilante in the background (and foreground in DD’s case).
But there is a world of difference and class between the two shows, with Daredevil streets ahead.
To begin with the premise of the show is clear and it has a clear focus – ultimately Daredevil against the Kingpin.
Is Gotham about Jim Gordon? The Penguin? Fish Mooney? Young Bruce Wayne? Police vs the Mob? The answer is it is about all of these things and none of them, with the lack of direction meaning all of the ensemble cast get their time in the sun, at the cost of the overall show.
In Daredevil, Matt Murdock is the man up front, with other cast members very much supporting acts (albeit entertaining ones).
Having watched both shows, Daredevil has also made me shout out loud at least three times because of what I have seen on screen.
The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed and the level of violence gives DD an edge Gotham can’t match. Impaling your own head on a spike? Decapitation with a car door? This is a brutal, corrupt and terrifying world that makes Matt Murdock’s decision to stand against it all the more impressive.
Marvel’s radar sense is working perfectly
The creative team behind Daredevil have really nailed the feel of the show.
It makes the idea of a masked vigilante with superhuman senses seem believable and the hidden world beneath Hell’s Kitchen a realistic one.
What’s more it is a world where actions have consequences and last beyond the end of each episode. The show is clearly building to something and is taking a multi-layered path to getting there.
On the way it is employing a delicate amount of subtlety too. Everyone knows Daredevil is part of a larger universe alongside other Marvel shows and films, but it only refers to these in passing – the odd newspaper headline here, a reference to magic hammers there. Again it is superior to Gotham with its all-too-obvious references to the Batman world it is prequeling.
I wonder if Marvel have learned from the initial missteps of Agents of Shield – before The Winter Soldier came to the rescue – and have hit the ground running this time? It feels that way.
Wilson Fisk, aka The Kingpin, is a criminal mastermind of New York’s underworld and a long-term foe of Daredevil and Spider-Man.
In the Netflix show, he has been brilliantly realised by Vincent D’Onofrio, bald head and all.
He is a fascinating mass of contradictions.
On the one hand he is a vicious crime lord, capable of ruthless acts and dark rage.
On the other he is hesitant when talking to his love interest, awkward and softly spoken and an art lover. He has an undertone of melancholy, almost as if he knows what he has to do is wrong but has made the decision to carry on regardless long ago. That is a heavy burden to carry.
He makes a great, three-dimensional foil for Daredevil.
It bodes well for the Defenders
Netflix’s Daredevil show is just the first of a series of shows about fellow New York superheroes.
Luke Cage has superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who also fights crime in Hell’s Kitchen, AKA Jessica Jones has started filming already and is about an ex-superhero who runs a detective agency and Iron Fist is a master of Kung Fu.
If Daredevil is anything to go by, it should make for great watching.
Charlie Cox makes a great Matt Murdock
Every villain needs a hero to battle with and Charlie Cox has been brilliant so far as Matt Murdock and Daredevil.
Just as Fisk’s actions weigh on him, so Murdock feels the effort of his battle against crime. The show has pulled no punches to show that – this hero bleeds and suffers despite his skills and abilities.
His character’s mixture of courtroom idealism with on-the-streets pragmatism reminds me of Batman at his best.
What’s more, he already realises there is no end game – this is a never-ending battle and he is willing to sacrifice everything to stay in the fight.
He’s the good man willing to do bad things to worse people.