As always, this is a spoiler-free review.
I’m late to the game. For the last few years, everyone has told me I should be watching the Marvel shows on Netflix, but my attempts to watch Luke Cage and The Iron Fist ended after 3 episodes and 20 minutes, respectively. It appears that the third time was a charm after starting Daredevil two weeks ago.
It’s 1:24 in the morning and I just finished season three after binging the first two seasons plus a The Defenders. I normally watch three or four episodes a night, but the final six episodes were so enthralling I had to brew some espresso so I could finish it off.
Daredevil has proven to be everything fans of vulnerable superheroes could be. I’m not a fan of titan versus titan; the superheroes in Marvel and DC movies don’t impress me because they’re too strong. When the only challenge has to come in the form of demigods or advanced alien invasions, it’s no longer intriguing. It’s just explosions and noise.
This is why I was a huge fan of the Dark Knight trilogy. Batman and the villains he faced were exceptional humans, but humans nonetheless. He had to worry about attack dogs and women with knives, a far cry from the immense powers of Superman or the Hulk, Wonder Woman or Thor.
Daredevil is just a guy with some cool abilities and years of training. He regularly gets bloodied by above average henchmen and needs a nurse to stitch him up when the wounds are too deep. That sort of real world danger allows us to relate to him. He doesn’t have Iron Man’s suit to protect him from a nuclear explosion after flying through a wormhole to a distant world. It doesn’t take a monstrous creation of Krytponian technology to pierce him. Daredevil can be hurt in a fist fight with a fellow human. That makes him more of a superhero than Aquaman.
But all that is the foundation. The show’s creators, writers, and directors could have easily messed all that up, but they didn’t. Instead, they seamlessly wove together a wonderful tapestry of crime and punishment that is as deep as it is broad. While there are clear connectors from season to season, they could all be viewed out of order and the audience would still come away with wonderful storytelling.
Dialogue is fresh and often unexpected. The cheese factor is there, but only because it’s impossible to slice away all the cheese when you’re telling the story of a masked vigilante and his evil nemeses. The interactions between most of the major characters are organic. You come away feeling like the friends on screen are having beers when they’re off-screen.
It’s the excellent writing keeping us a part of the story that allows for the real magic of Daredevil to come out. As much as I’d love to point to the universally excellent acting from nearly every important character as the reason to watch this show, I’d be lying. Yes, the acting is incredible with huge kudos to Charlie Cox (Daredevil) and Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin) for bringing these two icons to life, but it’s not the best part of the show.
This is a superhero show. It’s the action that makes it exceptional.
Much has been written about the incredible fight sequences, especially the long single-shots and faux-single shots. One in particular from season one sets the mood for the series as Daredevil fights several henchmen in a scene reminiscent of the infamous scene in Oldboy.
The Marvel shows on Netflix that I didn’t continue watching have both been cancelled. After finishing season three of Daredevil, I’m extremely hopeful the same fate doesn’t await it. Even if it does, this is one of the few series I would ever recommend seeing despite it being incomplete. Of course, those rumors are hard to substantiate now because Netflix doesn’t reveal viewership data. All we have is speculative information that points to the show losing viewership for season 3. That’s unfortunate because it’s most likely attributed to The Defenders, a decent crossover that featured Daredevil, Luke Cage, the Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones.
Had season three come out right after season 2, then I suspect it would have retained its popularity. Inserting The Defenders in-between seasons two and three may have forced some to take a break or reconsider watching it. I actually considered watching previous seasons of the other three shows just so I’d have a full background to enjoy The Defenders.
We’ll soon know if Netflix is going to reward excellence with the continuation it deserves. If a superhero show needs to make it through its full run, it’s Daredevil. If you haven’t seen it yet, get the popcorn (and espresso) ready for some binge-watching.