When Netflix announced it would be producing its own television shows and movies I was super-stoked. I thought, “What a great outlet for aspiring writers/directors to get their work seen without having a major name brand attached to their art.” And then Netflix announced it had bought the rights to Marvel’s Daredevil franchise. Fuck.
And I get it. I do.
If Netflix wants to be viewed as a major force in the entertainment industry, it needs franchise players and since all the “A-list” superheroes have already been optioned (X Men, Spiderman, Avengers, etc.) for years, Netflix was left to pick at the scraps.
Netflix takes the Daredevil franchise seriously (perhaps too seriously) and makes the most of the comics B-level material, combining gritty action with some decent dialogue and so-so character development. But the tone of Daredevil is eerily similar to Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight franchise (more on that later).
Netflix claims Daredevil is a television series, but it’s really a very, very long movie designed to be binged watched in one sitting. That’s how I watched it and most likely, that’s how you’re going to watch it.
We live in a society of binge culture: Binge drink, binge eat, binge watch. It is what it is. Patience is no longer a virtue, it’s an inconvenience in our hyper-real-techno-paced lives. “Long live the new flesh!” Oh right, this a review about Daredevil …
So this little kid, Matt Murdock, who later becomes the Daredevil, played by the stoic and soft spoken Charlie Cox, saves some old geezer from being hit by a truck carrying a bunch of toxic waste, then said toxic waste spills all over Matt’s face and he goes blind. Yep, Matt Murdock/Daredevil is the Toxic Avenger of the Marvel Universe, but the only superpower he receives is heightened scent and hearing.
Daredevil’s emotional peaks are found in the show’s flashbacks. Usually, I find flashbacks to be cheap outs for the writer/director to fill in plot holes. Here, Drew Goddard, the show’s lead writer, uses these flashbacks to flesh out Matt’s troubled history growing up dirt poor in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. The scenes between Matt and his boxer dad gives meaningful insight into why Matt feels the need to be the protector/vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen when he’s older.
Goddard attempts to use his flashback technique to build sympathy for the show’s main villain, Wilson Fisk, played by a gruff voiced Vincent D’Onofrio. We watch scenes of Fisk’s younger self being called fat over and over and OVER again by his abusive father until young Fisk finally breaks. I know giving your villain “reason” for his sociopathic behavior is all the rage right now, but it feels manipulative and cliché at this point.
It’s like being shown baby pictures of the kids who shot up Columbine (unknowingly) and saying “What cute kids!” Then a few seconds later, being played video of the horror they brought to their high school that day. If you have any kind of bullshit detector, scenes like this will surely set them off.
Much has been made of the added violence in Daredevil because it doesn’t fall under the Disney umbrella. Blood flies and bones break, sure, but does it add anything to the storytelling? Nope. But it does make one scratch at their temple. Murdoch takes more physical punishment than any superhero ever. This dude gets the living the shit kicked out of him in almost every episode.
For a series firmly grounded in reality (like The Dark Knight), these beat downs would render Murdoch bed ridden for months. But like magic and remember, Daredevil has no healing powers, Matt is at work the next morning, smile on his face. Again, the bullshit detector comes into play.
Outside of Murdoch’s well structured flashbacks, Daredevil is more formulaic superhero detritus.
In fact, it’s a “been there, done that” copy of the far superior Dark Knight Trilogy. How closely do the two parallel each other? Matt’s life thesis bestowed upon him by his father: “What do we do when we get knocked down? We get up.”
Bruce Wayne’s life thesis bestowed upon him by his father: “… Why do we fall Bruce, so we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.” Wow.
Final Say: Heineken?!
Fuck that shit!
About Bryan Kish
Bryan Kish writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.