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DAREDEVIL is Netflix’s new binge-watching sensation…

Posted on April 17th, 2015
Posted on April 17th, 2015

by Coop Cooper

The son of a down-on-his-luck boxer in Hell’s Kitchen, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), has his childhood shattered when he saves an elderly man from a getting hit by a truck and the accident renders Murdock blind. Worse than the blindness, Murdock’s other senses become heightened to the point of torture, but a mysterious blind vagabond named Stick (Scott Glenn) trains him to use his other senses to surpass those of other humans, giving him superhuman awareness of his surroundings and rapid healing. Murdock becomes a master of acrobatic hand-to-hand combat and his enhanced senses make him nearly unbeatable in a fight. By day he is an altruistic defense lawyer with his trusty partner, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), but by night he prowls the neighborhood as a masked vigilante known to some as “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”. As Murdock escalates his assault on organized crime, he gains the unwanted attention from the hulking criminal mastermind, Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), who secretly rules the borough.

The comic book “Daredevil” has only seen two major adaptations, one being the widely reviled 2003 Ben Affleck vehicle. The other was a 1989 TV movie “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in which Murdock/Daredevil (Rex Smith) defends Banner/The Hulk (Bill Bixby) in a court case. I can undoubtedly confirm this thirteen episode “Daredevil” Netflix series is the best adaptation so far.

“Daredevil” started as a stock Marvel comics character created by guru Stan Lee and eventually became one of Marvel’s grittiest and darkest properties. While he operates much like Batman, he has no wealth. He could give Spider-Man a good fight but doesn’t have the strength or resources to fight space aliens or omniscient super villains on his own. Daredevil operates on a more practical level than those heroes and is more suited for fighting crime, but expect him to cross over at some point to aid in a future “Avengers” movie and most definitely in a “Defenders” series along with Jessica “Jewel” Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Luke “Power Man” Cage (Mike Colter) who will star in their own Netflix superhero series “A.K.A. Jessica Jones” which premieres this December.

Besides “Punisher: War Zone”, this is the darkest take on a Marvel franchise so far and fans are the better for it. Daredevil may not scare villains as badly as Batman, but he is not beneath torture in order to get information, although he (barely) stops short of murder. He starts off with a makeshift ninja-looking suit – which looks suspiciously similar to the Dread Pirate Roberts costume in “The Princess Bride”. His transition into the hero known as Daredevil is a satisfying one as Murdock takes more physical punishment and tragedy than all of the Avengers combined.

Charlie Cox’s face was unfamiliar to me but I grew attached to him, especially in later episodes as his character becomes more tortured. After fans finish the season, he will soon become the only Daredevil any Marvel fan will accept. Elden Henson as Murdock’s sidekick Foggy is overly cheerful and corny to an annoying degree at first, but becomes endearing in later episodes as he becomes Murdock’s moral barometer, even if he is a bit melodramatic. Even more dramatic and weepy is Murdock’s well-meaning secretary, Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who foolishly snoops around and always pays a price for it, but at least her chemistry with Foggy is sweet and endearing. Rosario Dawson is criminally underused as Claire Temple, a nurse who finds a badly-wounded Daredevil in a dumpster and develops a habit of patching him up when he is too damaged to do it himself. The most bizarre performance comes from D’Onofrio who portrays Kingpin as a pathetic figure with a stilted speech pattern who is so emotionally unstable and traumatized by his childhood abuse, he kills the people who cross him with his bare hands in what amounts to a overgrown baby having a temper tantrum… a far cry from the overconfident and invincible arch-villain from the comics. It at least gives the character a third dimension, especially in flashbacks where we see him as a sensitive, overweight kid who finally stands up to his monster of a father.

Despite some strange character choices, the acting is good, the writing is excellent, the overarching storyline is masterfully executed and several connections to the larger Marvel universe are explored and many others are hinted. “Daredevil” is a dark, exciting and satisfying entry into the Marvel screen ventures. It lends itself well to a dramatic series and the thirteen episodes (which were all released at once on April 10th) is yet another compelling reason to subscribe to Netflix Instant.

4 and ½ out of 5 stars

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