Recently I have been thinking about shows which are great to binge watch on Netflix, and to me DareDevil is one of those shows.
I am putting a *SPOILER WARNING* as this article will contain serious story spoilers of the first season.
I went back and watched the first season of DareDevil, while my thoughts didn’t really change on the overall season and feel of the show, I had some thoughts on a few things I noticed while watching the show and wanted to point out a few highlights. So, without further ado, here we go!
Immediately after starting the first episode what drew my attention was the small details. The way the direction had subtle hints towards what was going on without telling the story directly, but rather indirectly. Hearing the cars’ and certain sounds getting louder than the rest of the ambient noise was hinting at the heightened senses Matt Murdock learned to control. The show doesn’t stop with these hints as it goes on, rather every time Matt really wants to hear something, all the noise is drowned out and the viewer can sense the concentration Matt can manipulate. The show doesn’t stop reminding you DareDevil is a blind superhero, but it doesn’t remind you too much where it ruins the show. The little things like Foggy telling Matt that Urich shrugged, or Karen nodding, those little details lead to DareDevil being something I won’t forget.
The direction continued to evolve throughout the entirety of the season, even reaching the fight scenes. The 360 degree view of the fights were something to “Marvel” at. While watching the show the viewer can understand what kind of person Matt Murdock is. He’s someone who cares about people, and won’t let anything stop him from doing the right thing. When the Russian’s kidnap a small boy, Matt is the man who gets him back. When Matt walked down that hallway, I knew he would kick the shit out of the whole group, but I didn’t realize how great that scene would be. The constant brutality and the blood lust Matt had was something I’ll always admire. After it was over you almost felt the sense of relief like the young boy felt. When Matt said “It’s ok, I’m here to help,” it was almost like he was telling the audience the same thing. The writers were telling the audience we could trust Matt and his judgement. Again, not many shows can do such a thing.
The next direction moment I was impressed with wasn’t really one single moment, but rather a collection of moments while the show was unfolding. From the very first episode of DareDevil, the Villain was something of a secret; someone not talked about. For the first few episodes, Mr. Fisk is referenced as “My Employer” or “Your Employer.” That brought an ominous sense to his presence and built him up in a way which makes him even more intimidating. Wilson Fisk is a Villain who is brilliantly designed in my opinion. Fisk is a man who is on a mission, a mission to clean up his City. To rid the town he loves of violence, drugs, and men who seek to destroy it. The only problem is, he has to promote all of those things to reach his end game. Wilson becomes something he hates, but he believes he’s doing the right thing. He truly believes he is doing good by killing those who oppose him, which is what makes him such a fantastic Villain. His mind is so clouded by what his father taught him, he can’t see what he’s doing is wrong. The dialogue between him and Matt as the show progresses is intense, heartfelt, and is something to admire. Even Claire points out at one point that Matt is “so close to becoming what you hate,” something that still stands true during the second season.
The final directorial moment in DareDevil Season 1 which I found incredible was how Wesley died. Up until this point Karen didn’t have a strong part to this story and was kind of lost in the background to the others’ in the show. When Karen killed Wesley, that was my most memorable “Holy Shit!” moment of this series. I’ll never forget the feeling I had watching that scene unfold; my heart was racing, my nerves were stretched thin, and my hair was standing up. Karen took charge of her fate, she fought for her life, and she killed a man I came to respect, even if it was for bad reasons. Wesley was a character I loved and hated. I felt his loyalty to his employer was second to none and what ultimately lead to him dying was that respect. He even says “no, I want as many men on him as possible” when he leaves the hospital Wilson was at. He questions Karen about going to see Fisk’s mom and when she turns down a job offer Wesley receives a call from you guessed it, Mr. Fisk. He looses his concentration, and leaves a gun on the table unattended. Karen then shoots him after a short conversation and that was the moment this show cemented itself in my mind. Of all the moments I enjoyed, that was by far and wide the best for me.
The second subject I wanted to talk about is how the show was written. Many Movies, Games, and Media in general will always fail if the writing is bad. Sure, special effects and visuals is important too, but keeping your audience engaged in a storyline is what keeps them watching and wanting more. I felt this with DareDevil the entirety of the first Season. From the very beginning the writers tell a story about Matt Murdock being a hero, even as a child. When he was a young boy, he pushed an old man out of the path of a vehicle and saved his life, but went blind in the process. It sets a precedence which gives Matt a hero complex; he’s willing to do anything he can to save others. The scene ends and immediately jumps to a much older Matt Murdock talking with a priest and confessing his sins with him. He even says “I’m asking for forgiveness for what I’m about to do.” That line is brilliant for so many reasons, and the first is setting the brutality of the show. When a man is asking for forgiveness before he commits a crime, you know shit is going down. It’s also a great line because it shows the level of trust Matt has in people. He’s willing to talk to a priest about his sins, and he knows that he’s going to do is boarder line wrong. It also says a lot about Matt’s character as a man. He knows what he’s going to do is wrong, but it’s a necessity to save his City.
Another stand out portion of the writing is all the communication between the characters. Many interpretations of comics tend to stay somewhat close to the source material. Sure they deviate from the comics, but the same basic idea is kept. DareDevil was different to me. It seemed to stand on it’s own separate from the comics, but what really stood out was the indifference of goals with Matt and Wilson. Both had the same idea for their City, and both went separate ways of completing those goals. Wilson went more towards an enforcer role. He killed and destroyed people while Matt, being a lawyer, went the route of using the Legal system. A big moment was when Foggy found out about Matt and who he was during the night, but what was more important about that encounter was the story Matt told Foggy about the father abusing his daughter. Without physically seeing it, you could tell Matt had to change his ways and it was even more apparent when the cut scene showing how he beat that man came about. Not only did it display Matt’s first beat down of another person, it confirmed what Matt told Claire on the rooftop about him “enjoying” what he does.
Meaningful characters are hard to come by in 13 episodes, especially those who have fully developed arcs. Some shows I’ve watched had characters that feel buried, almost like the writers forced them out. DareDevil doesn’t do that. Every character has meaning to the show as a whole. Claire is a good example as she was only in about 2 of the almost 13 hours of film, but her character is remembered very well. She’s known for saving Matt’s life as well as knocking some sense into him. She patches him up and nearly falls in love with him and even tells Matt he is “….so close to becoming what you hate.” Her words have meaning and are a deep cut for the story advancing. In doing so, Claire indirectly proves what the viewer was thinking; Matt is incredibly stubborn. He feels he has a mission to save his City and he’s taken it upon himself to save it.
Ben Urich is another great example of this. He was only in the show for about 2-3 hours of the total 13, but he still had a huge impact on the storyline. He wrote the Union Allied article which lead to Karen starting her investigation on her own, and even reaching out to Ben when she needed help. Ultimately, it was Karen’s curiosity which killed Ben. I find it kind of ironic he was the one who was telling Karen to pursue her feelings and when she did, it killed him. What I found the most interesting about Urich was the support he received from his wife. “You’re a reporter. It’s who you are,” words that couldn’t be more true. She talks a lot about how Ben never stops and lists the accomplishments he had including taking down the Italian Mob and “pissing off a lot of people.” Ben doesn’t stay in the show for a long time, but his impact is incredibly important.
After watching the first season again, I stand by my original thoughts that it’s one of the best seasons of TV I’ve ever watched. the storyline is engaging and fun to watch unfold, all the characters have meaning to the story while keeping it a mystery and the big plot points weren’t expected; especially the one where Karen kills Wesley. What’s even more fun is the dialogue between Matt and Wilson. The two have the same ideas in mind, but go about it in completely different ways. What I found intriguing was Wilson actually thought he was doing good. The mark of a good villain is a man who has conviction, and respects that conviction with action. Wilson Fisk does both and truly believes he’s making his City a better place in doing so. I find him to be almost like Loki in a sense; someone who believes he’s doing good by eradicating with force. Even characters who didn’t have a lot of screen time had huge impacts on the storyline and how it progressed. Hell’s Kitchen felt like a real place in the world instead of made up town like Central City or Starling City. The City was teaming with life on both sides. From the Russians who are betrayed and manipulated by Wilson Fisk, to all the dirty cops working for him and betraying the City they’re supposed to protect, all have a purpose in The City.
I’ll be watching season two soon and will most likely have some thoughts on it as well.
DareDevil Season 1 was fun to rewatch and will continue to be a once a year tradition for me. Season 3 has been confirmed but doesn’t have a release date as of yet.