So you may have heard over the last few weeks that Netflix signed a deal with Marvel Entertainment, Marvel has been a major comic book entity for decades and have had a massive success expanding into the cinematic universe, as well as TV shows. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was the first incarnation of that, and the better received Agent Carter. Now as a result of the deal with Netflix, we have Daredevil, a show produced in-house for the online audience. Season one was released in it’s entirety a few weeks back.
Now this is not Netflix’s first in-house show…they have already had successful runs through House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. However, as far as superheroes go, and Daredevil especially, this show leaves all the other super hero Television behind. It’s dark, it’s violent, it is incredibly good-looking in terms of it’s cinematography, and execution…And the writing is absolutely top notch.
So far, you can say that as far as gritty and dark goes…the closest comparison is DC’s Arrow. But because of the nature of ‘Daredevil’ being entirely online, without the restriction of advertisements and other ‘taming’ elements…The show takes violence and darkness to a whole new level…for example, take the scene when the series’ villain, Kingpin, smashes someone’s head to a bloody pulp, using only the door of a car…The screams stop after a while, you can hear the cracking of bones and muscle, before blood just pours from the backseat, a rain of red in stark contrast to the night.
This is how Daredevil is supposed to be, the comic books paint a picture of a New York underbelly, not exactly the New York seen destroyed in The Avengers (although they do make reference to The Avengers film on more than one occasion) but the alleyways, the seedy clubs…This is the first show, where the atmospherics are given as much attention as the action is, compared to the other shows, the action scenes are fewer, but the most realistic.
Check out this hallway fight from Episode 2 for example and you will see exactly what I mean…
The character is portrayed not as invincible as a lot of the other characters have so far on superhero TV, and there is visible exhaustion, fatigue, and a lot of near death misses, injuries…sometimes he takes a lot more punishment than he actually dishes out. And the fight scenes are not as cinematically flashy, with lots of edits, but you see the action play out in static and long shots.
I think its difficult to say whether or not they would’ve been able to get away with this kind of cinematography on regular television. But it seems unlikely…and there are a lot of other cool little cinematic gems which you would just have to see to appreciate, one of my other favourites is when the Matt Murdock character goes into his heightened sensory-mode.
It’s so well done.
Now let’s get onto the writing, because visual flare and atmospherics is one thing, but if the script is shitty then nothing will work. Well luckily it is not…The narrative unfolds slowly and smoothly over the 13 episodes…a lot of emphasis is put on character development, and the story follows these developments perfectly.
The device of flashbacks is used as well, although I have to say, it’s not as jarring as the flashbacks that I have seen on ‘Arrow’. There is no audio or visual jolt, to transition us, the scenes are woven beautifully into the episode, and intertwine aspects from a few different time periods from the character’s past.
The main story arc is the character of ‘Daredevil’ going up against ‘Kingpin’, although Kingpin isn’t referred to as kingpin, he simply goes by his real name Wilson Fisk. And we don’t even get to see Mr Fisk, until the 3rd Episode. The character of Wilson Fisk in this series has to be the most humanized super villain among all the ones that have appeared on TV so far.
Where there is genuine vulnerability and genuine ruthlessness, as well as class. I wanted to root for Wilson Fisk for a lot of the first few episodes…until the ‘Daredevil’ character tipped that balance near the end of the series.
And that is another thing. There are quite a few moments of theatre in the series as well, with monologues, analogies and philosophical/religious themes begin explored.
This is a MUST-SEE show for any superhero fan, and even if you’re not, you can enjoy the show as a crime drama.
It’s still top notch entertainment and a new high for comics on the camera.
(Editor – ARTbop alternative)
Dhaivat Mehta is a film-maker and performance poet, and a member of the Tauranga Writers…Involved with many aspects of local creativity! As an organizer he was responsible for last year’s National Poetry Day event “Caught In The Act” He also raps and does spoken word under the stage name Archaeo