Monday, April 13, 2015

Daredevil: the Good, the Bad, and the Human

Daredevil has gone up on Netflix and I managed to see all the episodes. So, what did I think?

Well, first let's start with what people will probably hate.

The first is that it's rather slow as a whole, not filled with wall to wall action. There is a lot of character interaction and development from our hero, our villain, and just about everyone else in between. Anyone going into this expecting explosions every five minutes will be sorely disappointed.

The second issue is that it's rather dark, but not in a grim-dark way. There are moments of light shining into the darkness, nothing is painted black, and there is no nihilism. "Dark" these days usually means a story where everybody dies and nothing means anything, which is possibly what a lot of folks are expecting. But this is not what Daredevil offers.

You see, Daredevil is a reflection of good vs. evil in the classic sense. In a modern story we would hear about Wilson Fisk's tragic back-story and the production team would do their best to make him sympathetic and a misunderstood hero. But that's not what happens. Daredevil, despite showing the darker side of Matt Murdock (our hero) and the lighter side of Wilson Fisk (our villain), never tries to insinuate that Murdock is trying to do anything other than the right thing and Fisk isn't ever doing anything that isn't wrong or woefully misguided. Black is black, white is white.

And this is what makes Daredevil the best Marvel TV show so far.

From Jack Murdock's march to his approaching death, to Stick saving the one gift he had ever been given, to the friendship Wilson Fisk shares with his assistant, the characters are given much depth in only one thirteen episode season. The line between good and evil is skirted by just about everybody, but we are never told that it is not there. In fact, one character asserts this early on and is proven to be wrong fairly quickly.

I've never been the most knowledgeable on Daredevil when it comes to superheroes, but his portrayal by Charlie Cox might be my favorite version of the character now. A Catholic man trying to keep his head about the world on fire he lives in, Matt Murdock gets beaten, broken, and bruised, but he will not stay down. His ability to see what is really there underneath the grime of the city and criminal scum infecting Hell's Kitchen is used to incredible affect despite his blindness of the surface level. It is a fascinating power that meshes well with the character's faith and resilience which easily puts him over the top to one of my favorite live action superheroes up there with Chris Evans' portrayal of Captain America.

But Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk is just a perfect foil to out hero. Where Matt is hard and resilient, Wilson Fisk is a big man prone to letting emotion overwhelm him. A man obsessed with tearing down the world and rebuilding it from scratch, Wilson Fisk is a man who can't come clean and can't get a grip. He tries to shut off emotions, to put up a front, but it doesn't hold. Evil falls apart when it attempts to come together for a greater goal, and that is what Wilson Fisk's whole life is about.

So while the pace is slow, the thirteen episodes of Daredevil are a watch well worth having, leading to a conclusion that shows exactly how evil always manages to end up and where one who fumbles around in the dark searching for the light may one day end up.

Marvel has another winner on their hands. Now here's hoping they get started on season two as soon as possible!

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