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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

open thread: Daredevil

daredevil

MarkyD requested an open thread to discuss the Netflix series Daredevil, so here ya go. (I haven’t seen it, so I have nothing to say about it.)

Assume that the comments below are full of spoilers.

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  • Flausch

    It started quite interesting, especially with regards to catholicism. Sadly, the series to me did forget about the religious angle and turned into typical tortured hero fare, with redeeming violence on top,even torture as a useful tool.

  • RogerBW

    I watched the first two and a half episodes. Violent and bloody and dark in a way that most television isn’t, fair enough. But anything else just felt like waiting for the violent bloody darkness to kick in. Show me a puppy and it’ll be being tortured to death by a villain in the next scene.

    The production is gorgeous. Casting is great. But it’s not for me.

  • Bluejay

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but here are some things I appreciated about it. (Do I even need to post a spoiler warning? Can we assume that these are spoiler threads?)

    – Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk (who I believe makes his appearance at the end of Episode 3). His struggle with apparent autism (I’m not sure if it’s “official”), his genuine love for Vanessa, and his sincere belief (at least through most of the show) that he’s working for the good of the city make him compellingly human and even sympathetic at times. A great performance.

    – Fisk’s relationship with Vanessa doesn’t go to predictable places. It would have been so easy to have her be the innocent girlfriend who’s caught up in Fisk’s crimes, and who tries to back out of it as soon as she discovers who he is and what he does; instead, with apparently no criminal background or motives of her own apart from a deeply felt connection to him, she throws in her lot with him. Also, it would have been so easy to fridge her (in the episode where she’s poisoned) and have that be Fisk’s motivation to truly embrace his dark side, but that doesn’t happen either. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.

    – Matt and Foggy’s relationship, and the flashbacks that establish their bond. Excellent character work.

    – Karen Page actually Does Things and has her own investigative adventure. She’s driven by something in her own past and keeps the firm going even as Matt and Foggy threaten to let things fall apart.

    – The show cares about the little people. One of the main stories is about how Matt and Co. try to help an old Latina lady stay in her apartment.

    – Charlie Cox is excellent as Matt, and really impressive at expressing without his eyes.

    – Matt in his DIY black outfit gets beat up. A lot. So many superhero movies involve superpowered beings getting into incredible fights that leave them with nary a scratch (and even nonpowered folks like Hawkeye and Widow don’t get hurt as much as Matt does). But Daredevil shows the actual physical and psychological costs of trying to be a vigilante in a crime-ridden city. Matt gets bruises and broken bones and knifeblade cuts and he bleeds out nearly to death half the time, and doesn’t just bounce back the next episode; he takes time to recover. And then — he pushes past despair and keeps going. I love the comparatively lighter fantasy of the other Marvel films and shows, but this is a refreshing change of pace. (“Change of pace” being the key, here. I wouldn’t want the entire MCU to be this grim and dark, the way the DC movies seem to be.)

    – The “tormented Catholic” angle is interesting too. It maybe doesn’t explore it as fully as it could, but it brings religious faith into the Marvel live-action universe in a deeply-felt way that none of the other Marvel entries have before.

    Some things I didn’t like:

    – The way they killed off Ben Urich. Smacks too much of the old “black guy gets killed” trope, and the character really had the potential to do more.

    – Not loving the final red suit, so far. I understand why Matt would need and prefer body armor, but it makes him look more constricted, somehow, clunkier, with a less compelling silhouette. I really liked the black outfit and wish he could have found a way to keep wearing it, even with all its tactical disadvantages. Or, I wish he could wear the red suit that’s actually depicted in the opening credits.

    – The final episode (and the final confrontation) really does take a turn towards the more “comic-booky,” and I can almost hear the storytelling gears turning: “now that the origin is done, we can bring in all these costumed heroes and villains that the fans will recognize, and have them all fight!” Which is fine, I guess. But I hope the show doesn’t lose what I found compelling about it: the slow build, and the painstaking attention to character-building.

  • Can we assume that these are spoiler threads?

    Yes, we can, and I’ll add a note to the post to that effect.

  • Great review, Bluejay!
    I agree on pretty much everything.
    I loved the Wilson Fisk character, but he was most interesting when just talking. Just interacting with anyone. As soon as he got violent, he got boring. I was kind of shocked when the first scene happened with him going nuts, as I wasn’t sure at that point where they were headed with him.
    Yeah, the Ben business really bothered me. Pissed me off, actually. It just wasn’t necessary, and Fisks evilness(word?) was already well established by then.
    I did find the relationship with Rosario Dawnsons character(can’t remember her name!) a bit too predictable.
    Cox was great. I wasn’t sure after the first episode, but after a few more I was totally sold.
    Foggy took waaaaaay longer to sell me, as I generally can’t stand his type of character.

    Karen was pretty darn cool, but did need to be rescued a time or two. Beautiful actress.
    The Mexican lady subplot didn’t do much for me. I felt they spent a little too much time on it.

    Overall, I loved the show, and can’t wait for season 2, whenever that will be. Next Spring, maybe?

  • David C-D

    This is really similar to our experience. I think we made it through the pre-credits sequence of the third episode (set in a bowling alley). When we saw the pilot I totally thought I was up for the show’s take on dark and gritty. I’m not sure whether something changed or whether I just couldn’t take the unrelenting violence on a regular basis. I seem to want lighter fare for TV than for movies.

    Bluejay’s lovely review is making me wonder if I should try another couple of episodes. Right now 3 episodes into Alphas and wondering how I am going to tolerate it. It hasn’t been as dark as Daredevil but the mood seems to hint that it could go in that direction.

  • Bluejay

    Apparently Rosario Dawson’s character will be a recurring one in other upcoming Netflix/Marvel series. I guess she’s the nurse who patches EVERYONE up? I hope she gets a significant arc of her own. Dawson plays her well.

    Karen was pretty darn cool, but did need to be rescued a time or two.

    Actually, the thing about her that sticks most to my mind is that scene with Fisk’s right-hand-man. “Do you really think this is the first time I’ve shot someone?” Contrary to his expectations, she was quite able to rescue herself. And show that she’s a lot tougher (and darker) than viewers might have assumed.

  • Bluejay

    Thanks for the compliment. Daredevil is plenty dark and violent, but to my memory it wasn’t unrelenting; there’s also some really great character work, and the show really takes its time to paint a rich portrait of the main characters and their relationships to each other. YMMV.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    My only real complaint about “Daredevil” was not enough Rosario Dawson. Not only is she just inherently awesome, she’s particularly awesome in this role on this show.

    I was disappointed that they killed Ben Urich. First because he’s a fairly important figure in the Daredevil mythos. Second because I think the show needs Urich’s grizzled pragmatism. And third because I think the cast benefits from a seasoned TV pro like Vondie Curtis Hall.

    I was also disappointed that they killed Mr. Weseley. He was my favorite villain. More than Fisk, who’s just to volatile to be totally believable as a mastermind and a violent psychopath.

    I also think the “can’t tell my best friends my secret” and the “my best friend discovered my secret and now he hates me” plots were totally played out before this premiered.

    But I really loved the show. Can’t wait for season 2.

  • My only real complaint about “Daredevil” was not enough Rosario Dawson.

    I’m not really reading these comments because spoilers, but this jumped out, and I just have to say: This applies to everything.

  • PJK

    I read somewhere that they killed off Ben Uhrich because he is part of the package deal that they made with Sony over Spider-man. So they reasoned that they’d better use the character the way they did and kill him off at the end of the season and not get into a situation where they couldn’t use him due to rights issues.

    I did like the fact that it brings home the risks of dealing with dangerous individuals and showed Ben’s intellect in protecting Karen from Wilson Fisk.

    My guess is that we will see his suit evolve over the course of the seasons, this is just the first iteration and changes will be made based on things that Matt experiences and learns as time goes on. I never liked the idea of a static outfit that somehow is perfect from the moment the hero has crafted it. I like the Iron Man idea of constant improvement of the suit.

  • Bluejay

    I think my main problem is with the headpiece. It looks off, somehow, and looks a little more dorky than intimidating. (The nose is definitely wrong; Daredevil in the comics has an exposed nose, like Captain America, not a shielded one like Batman. I guess that’s nitpicky, but it still contributes to the “off” look.) I thought the eyeless black mask was more menacing. And the black outfit in general was more in keeping with the aesthetic of the show.

    …Now that I think about it, I think an advantage of the eyeless black mask is that it focused your attention on Matt’s mouth and jaw and neck, and the expressions he was making there — you can see the gasping, the swallowing, the teeth-grinding, and subtler things. With the new red mask you focus on the eyes, which are fake and expressionless; and his neck and jawline are encased in fabric/Kevlar so you can’t see what’s going on there. It just drastically reduces Charlie Cox’s avenues for expression while he’s in the suit.

    This article is a little harsh, but I think it makes some good points:
    http://www.looper.com/660/daredevils-costume-almost-ruined-series/

    Yeah, hopefully they’ll keep improving the outfit until it looks awesome.

  • Nathan

    I hope we see his armor change over time like we got with Nolan’s Batman series. The main thing that bothered me was the pointless eye holes. There was something sinister about the black mask, it reminded me a bit of Wesley’s mask as the Dread Pirate Roberts.

  • Bluejay

    To be fair, the eye holes ARE part of the canonical mask from the comics; and it’s probably smart to let your foes THINK you’re a “normal” sighted guy, so they don’t suspect and go after you in your everyday identity as a blind crusading lawyer. (Plus, if I recall, the outfit was made for Matt by a guy who didn’t know he was blind.) I just wish the mask LOOKED better.

    I actually think Ben Affleck’s outfit from the old film better captures Daredevil’s sinister, formidable presence, even if it’s not as practical as Charlie Cox’s armor. Affleck’s mask, with those terrifying devil eyes, is pretty much just right.

    http://cines.com/files/2013/08/still-of-ben-affleck-in-daredevil-large-picture.jpg

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