Over the years comic books have been turned into TV shows, animated series’, and movies more times than most of us can count. And sadly throughout the years we’ve been disappointed by the adaptions. Always something that ruined what so many have come to love because a writer or director sees it differently than the people who actually created what they’re adapting. But in recent years that’s changed.
Marvel has been working feverishly to make sure anything that comes out that’s connected to their name is as close to the perfection their fans would expect. We’ve seen it with The Avengers movies, Guardians Of The Galaxy, and others in recent years. They managed to give fans what they’ve wanted for years and in limited time frames. After all movies can only be so long.
So when news broke last year of a Daredevil series on Netflix I was both thrilled and worried. Thrilled knowing Marvel would mostly likely work their asses off to make sure it was right. But also worried that no matter how hard Marvel worked we might still end up with an episodic disaster similar to the disaster that was the Daredevil movie back in 2003 staring Ben Affleck in his first, and should’ve been only, superhero portrayal. But after finishing the Daredevil series I can safely forget the movie as if it were a bad nightmare.
Warning, their will most likely be spoilers ahead so if you don’t like spoilers this is where you stop reading.
In most comic book movies and TV shows where the first episode has you just believing the actor playing the superhero is the superhero, Daredevil shows you the transformation of the character. Charlie Cox does an amazing job of not just portraying Matt Murdoch but also becoming Daredevil. For the first time in my life of watching TV I’ve seen an actor and character become their superhero alter ego throughout the first season of Daredevil. Charlie Cox shows that Matt Murdoch is carefully balancing between Matt Murdoch and Daredevil to not tip his hand to long time friend and business partner Franklin “Foggy” Nelson played by Elden Henson. Unlike the 2003 movie where Ben Affleck seems to just be reading lines off his glasses with no variation between Daredevil and Murdoch, Charlie Cox gives slight hints in his voice and gestures that while he’s lied to Foggy daily for years it still bothers him. Bringing a sense of humanity and reality to the character.
And we weren’t left wondering for seasons when they would touch on the back story. As things begin unfolding in the series the back story comes into play. We learn early on why Murdoch is who he is. And right before Daredevil’s first encounter with Wilson Fisk, whose brilliantly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, we get the story of Stick and how young Matt was taught to use his disability and make it his super ability rather than fear it. And immediately after that the confrontation between Foggy and Matt upon Foggy’s learning that Matt is the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen gives us their background and how they became the legal fighting team a city desperately needs. All back stories worked in seamlessly and not forced.
Even the telling of Wilson Fisk’s back story fits in without being forced as his want for human contact forces him to come out of the shadows. While he’s kept secretive in the first few episodes, once we see Vincent D’Onofrio on screen you instantly know who he is. But there’s a sense of humanity to him. As Wilson Fisk begins to pursue Vanessa Marianna, portrayed by Ayelet Zurer, he to begins to show how he carefully balances between running the biggest racketeering group in the city and being a man who simply wants to be accepted by someone after beating his father to a bloody pulp for not accepting him for the son he was trying to be.
It’s the perfect balancing act that both Cox and D’Onofrio do with Murdoch and Fisk that makes the rivalry between them that much more believable. They both show the human sides of their respective characters making it all more believable that they might actually exist in the real world.
Also not to be overlooked is Deborah Ann Woll whose portrayal of Karen Page might almost make you forget she is also the teenage vampire Jessica Handy from True Blood. While Karen is first brought in as the typical “damsel in distress” to Nelson and Murdoch she quickly evolves into their equal. Wanting the best for her city and not caring if she dies doing it. You almost wonder if her and Murdoch were cut from the same cloth with how tenacious she is to make sure Fisk is revealed for the crook he is. While I don’t know if playing a near invincible vampire for years played into how Woll brings the “I’ll die trying” mentality to the role or not the one thing you can say is she’s anything but your pretty secretary. She’s as determined as Page as Cox is as Murdoch and as Daredevil, who doesn’t truly become Murdoch AND Daredevil until the last episode of this season.
My only problem with the cast is Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple. While Claire is very important to the story as she repeatedly puts Murdoch back together as he fights towards finding Fisk and becoming Daredevil it’s Dawson who feels out of place. An actress I’m a fan of, and highly crushing on, it sucks to write that it seems like she took the big paycheck, rattled off lines, and ran to the bank to cash the check. Her performance just seems as sterile and cold as the medical tools she uses to stitch up Murdoch.
Marvel and Netflix has done something many of us have wanted from a comic book adaption to TV. They gave us a progressive storyline that grows in depth as the show continued, like a comic book does from issue to issue. The sad part is we now must wait months for this story to continue in season two instead of running to the store next month for the latest issue.
Daredevil the series will surely last as long as the comics if they continue on the path they’ve created and I intend to be there to watch every second of it.