They say justice is blind. In Marvel’s latest cinematic endeavor, we see the bloodied knuckles of blind justice himself. He is a defender, an attorney, a man without fear—Daredevil.
Marvel’s own Daredevil (originally named Matt Murdock) made his debut in the eponymous show on Netflix on April 10, making it the first in a series of upcoming Marvel releases to go straight to the online streaming service. All 13 hour-long episodes went live at midnight Pacific Time on Thursday night, tempting eager fans to binge-watch the whole series before friends could spoil it for them.
For those unfamiliar with the Daredevil legacy, he is one of Marvel’s most prominent disabled heroes, being blinded from childhood in an incident that also gave him his powers. After pushing an elderly man to safety away from a truck carrying radioactive contents, Matt came into contact with toxins spilled from the vehicle. The radioactive materials took away his sight, but also enhanced his other senses to superhuman levels.
In his adult years, he became an attorney at law and an incredible athlete, capable of using his powers to detect the irregular heartbeat of liars in court as well as the unsavory motives of criminals. Known as the man without fear, he patrols Hell’s Kitchen, New York, delivering justice as the vigilante Daredevil.
Matt Murdock is known most notably on the comic book page for his striking red suit, but in the Netflix series he is more often seen in his suit, jacket, and tie. From the onset of the series, Marvel presents a more visually gritty piece of work than any seen recently. It distinguishes itself from the bright period action series of Agent Carter, or the vibrant cosmic romp of last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy by setting the series as extremely dark and dreary. Deep grays and reds color the dangerous world of Hell’s Kitchen, making every moment on screen a dramatic vision of the world, one on a much smaller scale than the globetrotting Avengers adventures.
Throughout the first episode, I found myself forgetting this was a Marvel property, only to be reminded when my friends needed a piece of comic book trivia to clarify a reference. An early, but indirect, nod to the destructive tendencies of the other superheroes living in New York (looking at your multi-billion dollar battle damage, Avengers) serves as another reminder that Daredevil walks the same streets as Marvel’s other incredible characters.
Most notably, this show quickly establishes its difference tonally from every other Marvel work with its violence. By virtue of the dark, gritty visuals, the well-choreographed fights highlight the precision with which Murdock fights thanks to his enhanced senses, while also obscuring the many blows that get exchanged between the defender and his shady foes. Other Marvel works involve fighting too, but with magical hammers and gamma-irradiated heroes that recreate that classic comic book style. With Daredevil, it feels entirely different.
I found myself surprised by the sheer volume of violence just in the first episode. From what I can recall in that hour, there were at least three fighting scenes in which the masked Daredevil showed off his abilities, but outside of that there were countless instances of violence against women, who were consistently the victims of the dangerous crime lords. It was almost as if the episode was equally divided between attorney Matt Murdock dealing with his law firm and Daredevil trading punches with gun-wielding gangsters. I found this to be quite unprecedented in other Marvel works.
Despite this, I cannot wait to watch the rest of the series. I do not possess the mental fortitude to binge-watch it all at once, even though that’s kind of the point of Netflix. The Daredevil series is a bold move for Marvel, and positively reflects on the future of their upcoming streaming series. AKA Jessica Jones is currently in production, following an ex-superheroine turned private eye, continuing on this different path of the darker side of heroics. These series are sure to keep fans entertained during season hiatuses of Agents of SHIELD and the long waits in between movies. An incredible addition to their stunning repertoire of films and shows, Marvel’s latest work really does their blind defender justice.