Tag Archives: Daredevil

Is Daredevil A Perfect Show?

Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix has set_daredevil_netflix_640gotten a lot of praise since its release earlier this month. I have actually only seen one article run counter to that trend. Not bad.

Aware of how positive the reception has been, I posted said article on my wall to see what would happen. And I’m glad I did. The ensuing social media melee, while generally cordial, did get me organize a few stray thoughts I’ve had about the show. Things that hadn’t occurred to me, in part, because of the group-think mentality surrounding the show’s reception. Everyone loves it, so it’s probably good. 

And it’s hard to consider Daredevil without looking at its peers. Up to now, the CW has offered the most competitive non-cartoon superhero shows on television. I suppose Agents of SHIELD deserves a nod, but I was so bored with the first season that I never went back.

That’s not the only way to measure a show. Certainly, there are programs like True Detective that stand well above Daredevil in terms of gritty realism, plot execution and character depth. Sherlock does a far better job dramatized crime-solving. I’d even argue that some of DC’s animated properties better explore the moral complexities of vigilantism.

Still, comparing against peers means going apples to apples. CW is a modern superhero television pioneer. Smallville was well-past the syndication point when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started. Arrow and The Flash are successors to that legacy. But at their core, those shows are still about character drama (and non-stop lying to friends for no reason) that moves the plot rather than the reverse.

That’s something I really appreciate about Daredevil; the willingness to skip the BS in order to tell a tighter story with more interesting characters. A part of me wonders, however, if the bar isn’t set too low to have an honest conversation. 

To be sure, there’s definitely a good show here. For example, I really appreciate the show’s take on Wilson Fisk. He’s a fantastic inversion of the sympathetic villain. Fisk plays complicated and morally nuanced when, in truth, he’s just a bad guy that thinks the rules don’t apply to him. He has no empathy for similarly situated people, getting bent out of shape when someone involves his family or steals from him, while extolling about how he wants to do something good. His story is a pretty blatant power grab from a monstrous character. He is uncomplicatedly evil.

Fisk’s actions don’t appear in any way to be intended to better the city. He certainly does things and says they’re going to help, but he and the show never really connect the dots. I’d like to believe that’s because Fisk, like an alcoholic,  rationalizes his actions with excuses that in no way reflect the reality of the situation.

Except for Vanessa. He seems to genuinely care for her; though, it’s hard to say if it’s out of self-interest (wanting to be loved and have a family) or actual caring for her well-being separate of himself.

There were also genuine disappointments. Foggy’s discovery of the Devil’s identity played out in a very by-the-numbers way for me. We’ve seen a version of all parts of the ensuing argument over and over again. I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on them, the secret identity trope is so old it’s hard to do the reveal differently, but I expected more. 

Karen Page is a flat character for me. I actually couldn’t remember her name, even heading into the season finale. It started promising, with her saving her own life in her initial episode. That’s a big deal in a superhero show, but somewhere along the way her arc started feeling like a time sink. 

This post is a bit if a false flag; there is no perfect show. Daredevil is probably the strongest showing we’ve seen in live action television since the superhero boom started. There’s certainly room for improvement, but it stands well above its predecessors.

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The Blind and the Bold: Marvel’s Daredevil

In 2003, superhero movies were already cliche… but you couldn’t tell me that. I was 20 years old and was just coming into my own as a geeky comic book fan. Spider-Man had blown me away, and I had enjoyed the two Blade movies that had released by that time. Daredevil released in February, but I went to a college that forbade me from going to the theater (long story). So, the first week I came home, I went to the local dollar place and watched Ben Affleck’s Daredevil in a dirty, leaky theater. I won’t lie; I loved it. I even had the soundtrack (thanks to a friend that burned it to a purple CD for me). I still like the film… at least, I think the director’s cut isn’t bad. After seeing it, I voraciously began to devour Daredevil comics, and he became one of my favorite superheroes–Matt Murdock is just a lawyer trying to make his neighborhood better.

Then, last week, I ecstatically watched Daredevil’s eponymous Netflix series.

MARVEL'S DAREDEVILMarvel’s Daredevil is a rare gem that, while I was watching, made me believe that superheroes could exist. It was intense. It felt real… ish. Most importantly, I believed the motivations of both the protagonist and antagonist. Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk are explicitly two sides of the same coin: powerful men (in their own respective ways) who use that power to make their city a better place, according to their own vision.

Fisk believes that in order to make the city better, he has to wipe the slate clean and start over. He accomplishes this task through a series of financial maneuvers, blackmail, bribery, mob connections, and murder. Murdock believes that the best way to save his city is to protect the people in it by using his particular set of skills to stop all the crime that Fisk is propagating.

This, of course, brings Fisk and Murdock into conflict.

FiskOne of the highlights of the series is Vincent D’Onofrio. Sure, he could’ve played Wilson Fisk the same way we all remember him from the Spider-Man animated series or like Michael Clark Duncan did in the film, but D’Onofrio’s Fisk is an introvert: a socially awkward individual who is over-extending himself by dealing with the insubordination of his partners, the incompetence of his lackeys, his conflict with The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, and, most importantly, by trying to secure the love of a beautiful woman.

Fisk’s respect and love for the women in his life is one of his defining features. We’ve seen so many villains that are willing to treat the ladies in their lives like absolute garbage. But Wilson Fisk treats the women in his life well. He listens to their advice. He pulls out chairs. He protects them the best he can, and he derives energy from them, especially Vanessa, his lady love. When Fisk finally goes public with his “philanthropic” efforts, it is Vanessa who is standing beside him. The way his relationship with Vanessa works feels tangible to me. I totally get the whole “being socially awkward, but being able to suck it up with the love and support of the woman you love” thing.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock/Daredevil is pretty standard, but that’s perfectly okay. The series is written so well that I never think that I’ve seen what Murdock is doing before, even though I know I have. He’s a standard, tortured super hero, but again, he feels tangible. Like maybe anyone with enough training could put on a black ninja outfit and beat up thugs. I know that isn’t the case, but Daredevil is convincing. I trust that Matt Murdock believes in the righteousness of his mission. When faced with the odds that he is up against, I believe that he has to put on the mask and go outside the law to bring about justice.

Foggy KarenReally, I enjoy Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock more than I enjoy him as the vigilante superhero, and that’s because of the interactions with his supporting characters “Foggy” Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Debra Ann Woll). Foggy is Matt’s best friend/law partner and is probably the true heart of the show. He’s often the comic relief, but you never feel like the comedy is at the expense of the character. He’s the sweet, awkward, funny guy that works with you. He’s good at his job, and he’s a loyal friend.

Karen, at least for me, was a little bit less interesting. Her story arc basically consisted of never letting go of a case. That’s pretty standard legal drama to me, but there are hints of her mysterious past that I’m sure will be addressed next season. Her interactions with both Matt and Foggy and the chemistry between all three of the characters is spot on.

The action in the show is brutal and not very flashy, but it’s well choreographed. The lack of flashiness, though, heightens the stakes. Rather than tell you all about it, I’m just going to post a video of this scene from episode two. I think it shows you exactly what I mean.

I actually wanted to cheer when he saved the little boy at the end of this scene.

All in all, I highly recommend Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. It leaves a lot of threads open for next season (or other upcoming Marvel shows), but the story of the struggle against Wilson Fisk and the fate of Hell’s Kitchen is believable, compelling, and masterfully done.

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Marvel Studios, Just Take My Money.

Take it all, damn you. You're good, Marvel Studios. You're good.

Take it all, damn you. You’re good, Marvel Studios. You’re good. [Logo property of Marvel/Disney]

Marvel Studios seriously knows what to do to get my money, along with damn near everyone else’s. They know how to create some solid product, and by solid product I mean their movies. Ever since the first Iron Man film debuted in 2008, they’ve been raking in all the cash that every geek and nerd in the world is willing to shell out. Obviously, it didn’t stop with Iron Man either. They’ve been pretty steady with their films each year and it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon. I mean, they do have quite the catalog to work with.

So far there have been three Iron Man films, two Thor films, two Captain America films, an Incredible Hulk film, and an Avengers film that collected all of the heroes from the previous films into one gigantic, money-making extravaganza that, by all accounts, was one of the best comic books to film adaptations ever created. And now they have Guardians of the Galaxy releasing today, which looks freakin’ spectacular! I haven’t read a bad review about the film yet. It’s so damn good that Marvel announced a sequel with a confirmed release date (July 28th, 2017) and director (James Gunn will return to direct) a week before the film was even released. That says something. And from the trailers, exclusive looks, reviews, and interviews, not to mention the cast list (Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, to name a few), I’ve become a new fan of GotG. I had absolutely no interest in this series before this film was announced, and now I don’t know how I wasn’t a fan of it. I’m sure this film is going to convert a lot more people into fans very soon.

If you haven’t seen a trailer for it yet, here ya go:

Also, I’d like to point out that Josh Brolin will be playing Thanos in this film, as well as any other that features the character, and I am insanely excited about that. I mean, I wanted him to be Batman, but this works too.

Marvel did the same thing for me with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Well, Marvel and Chris Evans. Before that film, I was a fan, but not a huge one. Cap was always one of the goody two shoes that didn’t really catch my attention.  I didn’t dislike him, but I wasn’t die-hard about him either. He wasn’t Batman or The Punisher; although, he was pretty badass in the Civil War story arc. With The First Avenger and The Avengers, my interest grew some. I definitely had a lot more respect for the character. But after The Winter Soldier, I was hooked. Thanks to that outstanding film and Evans’ stellar performance, I’m a lifelong Captain America fan. If anyone ever had doubts about him being cast as Cap, that film will shatter any and all doubts.

If you haven’t seen it, you need to see it. Here’s the trailer:

Seriously, this film became one of my all-time favorites rather quickly.

From the start, Marvel Studios hasn’t made a bad film and if they keep doing what they’ve been doing, they won’t ever. They’re making all the right choices with the writers and directors they hire and the talent they cast, as well as the choices they make involving scripts, character design, and pretty much any other decision involved in making their glorious films. And judging by the release schedule they’ve reserved for the coming years, they’re going to be making many more great decisions that’ll take even more of our money. They’re planning on releasing 2-3 films a year for the next five years, consisting of one sequel and 1-2 non-sequel film(s).

  • May 1, 2015 – Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • July 17, 2015 – Ant-Man
  • May 6, 2016 – Captain America 3 
  • July 8, 2016 – Doctor Strange
  • May 5, 2017 – Unknown
  • July 8, 2017 – Guardians of the Galaxy 2
  • November 3, 2017 – Unknown
  • May 4, 2018 – Unknown
  • July 6, 2018 – Unknown
  • November 2, 2018 – Unknown
  • May 3, 2019 – Unknown

There’s also the possibility of a Black Panther film, an Inhumans film, a third Avengers film, another Thor film, and possibly and Iron Man 4. And like I said, they have quite the catalog to work from. Marvel is unstoppable. DC can’t touch them. There are also rumors of a Hulk sequel which could potentially use the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storylines. That would be beyond epic. They’re also trying to corner the television market with five new series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Agent Carter, and Luke Cage) which are will also probably be huge hits for them. And if they can tweak Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into a better show, they’ll dominate the small screen as well. Although Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine are going to be tough competition.

So go ahead, Marvel, keep doing what you’re doing. Take my money and my dedication. You’ve earned it.

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Superheroes and the Small Screen

With Marvel and Netflix inking a deal to bring “Marvel’s Flawed Heroes of Hell’s Kitchen” to the small screen (Netflix being an internet version of television), there is the potential for even more heroes to follow the same path.

"The Man Without Fear"  [image property of Marvel Comics]

“The Man Without Fear”
[image property of Marvel Comics]

After regaining the rights to Punisher, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Blade, fans have been wondering what plans Marvel had for their darker properties. Now we (sort of) have an answer. Starting in 2015, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones will each have their own 13-episode runs on Netflix, culminating in a “The Defenders” mini-series. Depending on how successful this deal ends up being, it could open a lot of doors for other Marvel characters. And maybe even characters from other comic publishers.

For starters, an unrated Punisher series, made in the same vein of the Marvel MAX imprint, would be phenomenal. An unrelenting, bloody, violent, carnage-filled series showcase how truly badass the Punisher is, is exactly what Marvel needs. The same goes for Blade. It needs to be uncensored, violent and bloody. It’s a story about a half human/half vampire that hunts and kills other vampires. But it should definitely not star Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones. I don’t think Wesley Snipes should reprise the role either. We need a fresh perspective for both Blade and The Punisher.

Marc Spector/Moon Knight [image property of Marvel Comics]

Marc Spector/Moon Knight
[image property of Marvel Comics]

From there they could venture into the realm of a character like Moon Knight. He’s essentially Marvel’s version of Batman but with a few differences. He believes he’s the avatar for the Egyptian god of vengeance, so he might be just a tad bit crazy. Where Batman fights crime to avenge the murder of his parents, Moon Knight will kick the crap out of anyone he thinks deserves a butt-kicking because it makes him feel better about all the people he killed as a mercenary. He’s rich and uses gadgets like Batman, but he fights with a different code of ethics, so that could make for some interesting story arcs. After that they could even branch out to Cloak and Dagger, Black Panther, or Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier.

Other comic publishers could take notes from this and bring characters from Hellblazer, The Sandman, B.P.R.D., Preacher, 100 Bullets, Y the Last Man, and so on to life. DC Comics might have some success with this venture, even though they’ve had some recent success with Arrow and possibly even more success with a Flash spin-off, they still had shows for Aquaman and Wonder Woman that never made it past their pilot episodes. This might be the perfect way to set up their Justice League movie. Characters like Aquaman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter might not have what it takes to hold their own on the big screen like Batman (and to a lesser extent, Superman) but they would probably do very well (if written, acted, and directed properly) on the small screen. They shouldn’t be discourage by their previous failures, but be encouraged by the success of Smallville and Arrow.

The big screen has been good for Marvel, and I think the small screen will too. They have been able to dominate the competition quite easily and, from the looks of things, will continue to do so. But in order to stay in the game, the other comic book companies need to step up their game and start trying to make things happen in new outlets. Netflix, HULU Plus, iTunes, Amazon Video…something. The fans want to see their favorite characters brought to life, as long as it’s done well. A season or more of one-hour episodes gives you more time to fully develop a characters story than a few two-hour films would.  A leap to the small screen could be just the way to give them what they want.

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Not Bad, Not Good, Not Brolin – Ben Affleck is the New Batman.

Seriously, Warner Bros? What the actual f#©k?!

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

Did you guys even look into your other options or did you just look out onto the studio lot, see Ben Affleck strolling around and think “Hey, Ben owes us a favor, so let’s have him do it”?

You could’ve picked any other, much more talented actor, and yet you went with Affleck. I remember Josh Brolin being an option, what happened there? Was he not good enough for you?! Was Ben cheaper?! Technically, this guy’s already played Superman. Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to let him play both Bats and Supes?! ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!!

Sorry. Had a moment there.

I’m getting a tad bit worked up over this and some might think it’s really not worth it, but Batman is important to me. Batman has been my number one hero throughout my entire life. So yeah, I’m gonna get worked up over a decision like this. I don’t want Batman to ever be “Clooney-ied” again. I want any actor that wears the cowl to wear it with pride and honor it and know that if he screws up the role and the image, we (and by we, I mean the Bat-fandom) will have his head. You’ve been warned, Affleck.

There’s only one Batman I have ever hated and that was George Clooney. He did a phenomenal job of tarnishing the image for me, and I will never forgive him. Him, Schumacher, and Batman & Robin. I spit on you, Joel Schumacher. Ptooey! That film was an abomination.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ben is a fine actor. He has made some great films (The Town, Dogma). He was the bomb in Phantoms, yo! He’s also made some shitty films (Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, Gigli), but who hasn’t? It took me a few years to like him as Daredevil but I finally warmed up to him. I’m just not a fan of him putting on the Batsuit. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of Heath Ledger (R.I.P) playing the Joker and now I can’t see anyone else playing the Clown Prince of Crime. So I’ll give Affleck a shot, but he’s gonna have to wow the hell outta me, along with millions of others. Not to mention, he’s gonna have some big boots to fill, following after Christian Bale. But if he can manage a better Batman voice, he’ll have one-up on him. I just don’t want to have to wait a few years to like him as Bats.

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

My largest fear of this decision comes from the notion that Zack Snyder is partly basing this film off of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In it, an older, grizzled Batman dons an armored suit and fights Superman one-on-one. It’s a legendary battle that should not be taken lightly, and I’m worried that Affleck won’t be able to pull it off. I think Cavill can because he’s an exceptional Superman. The best, in my opinion. But I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to take Affleck seriously during the fight. I don’t want to laugh at Batman, I want to cheer him on as he pummels Superman.

Oh, and he has to quote this line: “I want you to remember Clark. In all the years to come. In your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

He has to say it and say it epically or the film will be for naught.

As with most things of this nature, I’ll give it a chance. Reluctantly, but still. However, Ben Affleck will have a much slimmer chance than others. Impress me, Ben. Impress the hell outta me.

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