With Marvel’s Netflix-exclusive Daredevil series drawing pretty much unanimous critical acclaim, and everyone having their own thoughts on just what made it so special, we decided that rather than just giving one reviewer’s opinion on the series we’d throw the topic open to the entire might of the BCP Roster.
Sitting down for a round table chat about the series, we assembled the team to discuss the show, the violence, the characters and performances, as well as just what the TV future holds for the Man Without Fear.
Here’s how the conversation went;
Ceej: So, after finishing watching the series, what are your initial thoughts on the show as a whole?
Chris B: It proved, without question, that Marvel can do more than just the cutesy avengers stuff. Dark, gritty, and fucking awesome.
Ross: Jaw-dropping – just so consistently good throughout. Marvel grabs us by the scruff of the neck and show us the seedy, bloody underbelly of their universe. That they pulled that off without ever feeling like we’d left the MCU is deeply impressive.
Martin: Very impressed with the overall production quality, the serious tone with which it was handled, and the strength of each character. The action choreography was superb, it really felt as though every blow mattered and helped develop the characters further. The show was also tight from a narrative perspective, there were no superfluous plot threads, and it had a great balance of crime drama, action adventure, and a wee bit of humour for good measure. It’s the show Gotham could have been. Superb!
Jules: It absolutely nailed it. They’ve taken Miller’s grim and dangerous New York and brought it to life, but – crucially – without going too far over the edge of intensity, where it would become either too bleak or too stupidly serious. The casting was perfect, particularly Stick and Fisk. Everything they needed to get right, they’ve got right. I’ll say it now, there’s never been a superhero adaptation that hits all the targets like this before. But importantly, it’s just as accessible for the non-fanboys as it is for the rest of us. Flawless.
Gary: I can now see how the MCU and Punisher may fit together, which is something I never did before and think that is worth trying at some point – third time’s a charm and all that. I felt as a whole the show held up well, even though some scenes or specific episodes weren’t necessarily as exciting as others. Some of the flashback type episodes like with Stick, Fisk, Battlin’ Jack and then with Foggy, I felt,were far more interesting when compared to the present day scenes and episodes. But going forward, I’m definitely interested in seeing how Daredevil is handled.
Laurence: Overall I was pleasantly surprised at how the show came out swinging (no pun intended) from episode one and was able to maintain that momentum throughout the series, even if it did flounder at times. Although I’m not a fan of the new costume, I loved how Matt Murdock obtains it. The casting was great especially the supporting cast Karen, Wesley, and the priest all stood out sometimes stealing the spotlight from the leads.
Chris J: Initially i was quite apprehensive about the series (with the sour taste of the Batfleck “classic” and also because DC appear to be leading the way with the TV shows). However, the way in which they handled the origins I feel was perfectly done; drip feeding information and still not placing a major focus on it. This allowed you to form connections with the characters and and then be fed the information as the supporting characters gradually became more involved.
Ceej: I know a lot of people were initially a little shocked by some of the violence on the show. Definitely unlike anything we’ve seen from Marvel in the past. Where do you guys stand on that? Too much? Not enough?
Jules: There’s room for all levels of violence in the Marvel U. A street-level show like this *should* be brutal. He’s fighting murderers, gangsters and human traffickers. It’s a horrible world he’s trying to make better. Plus, it never glamorises violence, instead they show it had consequences, unlike the more super-powered action scenes of the movies. Hell, it even shows the consequences of The Avengers’ violence in the aftermath of the Battle Of New York. Now that’s smart…
Ross: I thought it was perfectly weighted for what they set out to achieve. As I said to my other half (who was flinching and covering her eyes at the bloodier bits, so I guess it may well be a bit much for some people), “this ain’t your grandma’s Marvel Universe”. And even though thematically, as Jules says, it does indeed decry the use of violence as a resolution tool, aesthetically, it was gorgeously shot and incredibly cineliterate – recalling the brutally realistic fights of Oldboy and The Raid, particularly The Corridor Fight Scene (so good it gets capitals) at the end of episode 2, and Matt’s showdown with Nobu.
Chris J: I agree that the fight scenes were beautifully done, mimicking the feel of The Raid movies, with a natural, survival feel to them!
Chris B: The violence was perfectly weighted as Jules said, a street level show should be graphic, DD isn’t one of those law abiding, star spangled banner kind of heroes, he’s came from a brutal background, and is on the streets of Hells Kitchen! Can you imagine what the shoe would be like if it was framed like Arrow or Flash? It just wouldn’t work! Marvel are showing their hand here, showing that they’re not afraid to do things a little differently. This is a show for adults and it had adult themes, potentially alienating some of their audience, but there’s no denying that they’ve created one of the best crime dramas of the year.
Jules: That’s exactly it, Chris. It’s more than a superhero show. It’s a crime drama and a bloody brilliant one.
Chris B: Would be kinda cool to see DD done in an over the top 80’s style, but I think we can all agree this is best suited! Eurgh, can you imagine how amazing Iron Fist is going to be now?!
Ross: This whole sequence of Netflix shows are Marvel’s ‘The Dark Knight’-style game-changer. Only with more missing teeth. If they had fluffed it with Arrow-grade soap-operatics, I would’ve wept!
Chris B: And the teeth they do have are sharp as hell and willing to bite your arm off instead of talk you to death like, say, Bane in DKR.
Jules: Imagine how awesome the fights with The Hand are going to be? And Elektra??? Oh my.
Martin: I totally agree with what’s been said about the level of violence, it was pitched just right. It was measured and consequential. In those realistic scenarios, your next move might be your last, and the show really brought that tension into each exchange.
Laurence: I actually felt that the violence seemed gratuitous for the sake of being over the top, and I’m only concerned because I don’t know where it fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stops into Hell’s Kitchen. Like is this the underbelly of Marvel and it only shows up when a new series on Netflix comes out or will we see a darker side to all facets of the MCU?
Gary: I thought the level of violence was to be expected. I mean, cable TV shows are more violent, so if this is streamed then I guess the makers would have even less limitations. That’s probably one of the benefits of doing the street level type heroes on such a platform. If it was on regular TV like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. then I could definitely see huge chunks that would have to be edited out.
Chris B: One thing I’m curious about now is how they’re going to do the whole “bulletproof” Luke Cage thing after how ultra-realistic they’ve gone with this. I mean Fisk looked almost normal!
Ceej: That’s a good point, actually. How do you guys see them integrating the more “super” heroic aspects of the Defenders into this world they’ve created?
Gary: I’ll still play it by ear I guess. I mean some of the mystical type stuff down the line with Iron Fist or say the Hand… hell even Killgrave’s purple skin may seem at odds, so they might not go that way. I think Its still too early to say how The Defenders will play out, but I would say it depends how the next set of shows go and, with Daredevil definitely being the biggest name in the Defenders line up, it’ll be interesting to see if the rest pull in similar numbers.
Jules: On the strength of this, it’ll be toned right down I think. Luke Cage could have stomped through Daredevil’s world without a scratch swatting everyone aside as he went. They’ll have to dial it back a bit to fit in with it I’d expect…
Ross: I would bank on scaled-back or adjusted powerset for Luke Cage too – seems to me they’re going to be ditching the superhuman strength and healing factor there, just sticking with him being unbreakable. Might seem like an odd decision, but if your ONLY power is that you get to watch your friends suffer and be able to do nothing about it, there’s going to be a nice psychological edge to any such encounters.
Laurence: I don’t know if it’ll be more “super” than it will be supernatural with the references to the Hand and Gao’s home being “considerably farther” than China it seems like this will be the gateway to the mystic side of things, which seems fairly convenient considering the Doctor Strange movie comes out next year.
Ceej: Okay, so let’s talk legacy… where do you guys rate Daredevil in terms of Marvel’s overall TV/movie output?
Jules: The very top. Without wishing to gush, they’ve never nailed it quite so perfectly before. Certainly not on TV. It’s harder it compare it to the films as they’re so different, but so far, this is the only adaptation they’ve came up with that I can’t find a single thing I dislike in any way. That goes for any comics adaptation not just Marvel. All the more impressive as I’ve been a huge Daredevil fan since I was a kid, so was always going to be particularly critical.
Ross: I’ll play devil’s advocate (hah! Been waiting to use that!) here, and say that it came so very close to topping it for me, but stumbled at literally the last second. All of that complex, nuanced story-telling ultimately bore down to a single street-fight between Daredevil and Fisk. Now fundamentally, that’s not necessarily an issue, but it was compounded by the fact that it was an opportunity for them to showcase a newly costumed Daredevil at his very, very best, and instead, we got a bizarrely stilted fight sequence that was rather clearly edited to cover for the otherwise brilliant Vincent D’Onofrio’s lack of mobility. I’d’ve liked to see it end with a grander scale, high stakes fight, and the fact that it didn’t saw it drop a point in the ‘out of 10’ scale. Still, as a whole, it’s bloody marvelous (see what I did there?!), and it’s a close second favourite MCU entry, after Winter Soldier, Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, and just edges out Agents of Shield.
Chris J: I agree with you there Ross, we watched him have a battle of attrition with multiple attackers in the corridor, prior to him rescuing the young boy. But he goes up against a single attacker, with new and improved armour and almost comes up second best. It’s almost as if he was testing the armour.
Martin: I thought the street fight was pretty symbolic of the struggle both characters face, in that both Fisk and Matt come from the tough streets, and both have their own vision of how to save them. So it felt right that the should have a gutter level brawl for superiority. Fisk is supposed to be almost superhuman in the comics, so it stands to reason he would be a tough out for Matt. I agree, Ross, that there was some creative editing going on to cover big Vincent’s physical shortcomings, but it didn’t detract from the overall story for me.
Gary: I’d rate it over their TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Peggy Carter, although I feel it misses out by not having a big screen budget, making it more difficult for me to rate against the MCU movies. That said, playing out in long form did make the characters more well-rounded, which is something the movies can’t do. So I would say I’d rate it somewhere in the middle.
Laurence: It’s another watershed moment for Marvel. Phase One changed things in terms of what a comic book franchise could/should look like, Phase Two is a little bit more of what we’ve already come to expect. This was something completely different, and the best part was that Marvel stuck to what they promised – street-level superheroes – and it wasn’t just buzz words and marketing. Marvel provided something for its 18 and older demographic without it becoming too comic book-y. It would have been interesting to see how the show would have done if the series came out week to week instead of just dumping it on Netflix. I have to hand it to Marvel and Netflix though, because the budget was well managed.
PART TWO will be coming shortly as the team breaks down Vincent D’Onofrio’s “Kingpin”, lays out their favourite moments from the series and looks forward to the recently announced second season two, but in the meantime, what do you guys think?
Do you agree with what the team had to say? Let us know in the comments.