These five stars stand for the five basic concepts of entertainment that make it or break it: Characters, Plot/Writing, Fun Factor, Novelty and Acting/Production (Art/Production for comic books). The Netflix show Daredevil gets a full five stars–leaving the viewer satisfied, but wanting more.
The characters in Daredevil each have their own lives and agendas; their whole world doesn’t revolve around Daredevil. They are unique and feel real. Even the main villain of the show has fairly logical personal reasoning behind his violent and illegal actions. The show has a sense of the real world without focusing too much on petty drama. I think that is what gives it some of its appeal.
Daredevil is a vigilante in Hell’s Kitchen. As a hero, he’s clever and a good fighter. He isn’t just dumb muscle. The fight scenes are amazing. He uses actual martial arts and doesn’t always come out of the fight on top. The show keeps you guessing. Will he win or lose? How will he win? It’s anything but predictable.
As Matt Murdock, he’s a good lawyer. His character is likable, if faulted. He does his research on cases and on criminals, thinking as a lawyer would. His interactions with other characters are interesting and fun to watch.
Foggy Nelson is Matt’s law partner. They feel like partners; it’s not like Matt is the only one who is smart or carries the whole partnership on his shoulders. Foggy adds value as a partner and a friend. This is made obvious over the course of the two episodes Foggy and Matt were either fighting or not speaking to each other. Their friendship is realistic and fun, in general.
Karen Page is the secretary at Foggy and Matt’s law firm. She is very sweet and friendly, while still being a strong female character. She’s passionate and stubborn, and doesn’t like to see people taking advantage of others and getting away with it. When Fisk and Union Allied get away with literal murder, she refuses to go down without a fight.
Claire Temple patches up Matt after his harder battles, usually giving him advice as she does. She’s one of my favorite characters in the show. She’s bold, strong and smart. I hope that she and Matt remain friends and that their experimental romance remains untouched in the second season. She’s definitely a good character that I would love to see more of.
Wilson Fisk is an interesting villain. He isn’t crazy, but he has a twisted backstory. The show even goes into his romantic life—a rarity for villains. He’s shown to have friends, motives, interactions and emotions as deep and complex as the protagonist’s. While he was an amazing villain, I hope he doesn’t reappear in future seasons.
The other villains are intriguing, too. While Nobu and Leland Owlsley were kind of annoying, Madam Gao’s character was refreshingly different from the other villainous characters. She was wise, collected and respectable. While they were overly volatile, I liked Anatoly and Vladimir up until their respective deaths. The show did an amazing job creating complex and novel characters, no matter how little screen time they got.
The story line was amazing, riddled with fascinating subplots, twists and cliffhangers. The plot twists and cliffhangers are used in suitable moderation. Enough to keep you guessing, but not so much as to prevent you from enjoying the actual show. The dialogue is masterful. The scenes packed with adrenaline are invigorating, often making you hold your breath without realizing it. Scenes focusing on dialogue and characters make you think, increasing the potency of the action scenes.
Daredevil is incredibly difficult to stop watching. You like and root for the characters, and curiosity increases as the plot continues. From each episode, there’s substance. You learn something new about the characters and the plot progresses. Yet you are left wanting more. The show incorporates some humor, but not in excess. Everything from pacing to characters is balanced perfectly.
The original character was novel in his own right: a blind, Catholic vigilante with super senses. But the show uses Daredevil’s abilities in an original way. The show emphasized less on his “radar sense” and more on his heightened senses. Giving the antagonist (Fisk) depth is an inventive concept. The show’s multi-layered quality gives it the perfect mix of physical and mental turmoil, the lawful and not-so-lawful ways of protecting the city.
Fisk and Matt share the same vision of making the city better. Fisk pursues this vision by removing people’s heads with his car door and becoming a partner in the heroin and human trafficking rackets, while Matt pursues the same vision by trying to stop these trades.
The quality of acting ranged from very good to phenomenal. The importance of this is highlighted in any decent show where the acting is of bad quality. However, the thing that left me awestruck was the cinematography.
The controlled lighting, overexposed colors and back lighting were amazing. Often the lighting will be greens and yellows, or a theme of one or two colors (like blues and greys) with a concentrated pop of another color (like red). While the show was very dark, with a lot of shadowing, vibrant colors bleeding into the black give it a perfect balance.
Overall, the show was amazing. There is so much to appreciate and so much to look forward to in Season Two.