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Daredevil Season One: Rewatch Review

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Daredevil, Film & TV

Daredevil Season One redefined an icon, here we take a look back at what made this series so special...

When Daredevil season one first aired back in 2015, few anticipated how well received the gritty, martial arts fight fest would be. Marvel has come a long way since then, having over two dozen movies and TV shows under their belt with plenty more future projects on the way. This includes a new Daredevil TV series with actor Charlie Cox returning to the titular role however many are skeptical as to whether it will hold up against the original Netflix series. The character made a minor cameo in She-Hulk though his portrayal left viewers with mixed feelings, criticising the CGI fight choreography as well as his new Disney like sense of humour.

Regardless of how this new series pans out I thought it was worth revisiting the original series to see if it really was as good as we all remember it to be. This article will cover Daredevil Season One only however I plan to cover seasons two and three later down the line. For those who have somehow found this article before watching the series needless to say there are plenty of SPOILERS AHEAD…

THE DEVIL OF HELL’S KITCHEN

From the get go viewers are introduced to Matt Murdock, well at least his his vigilante persona prior to becoming Daredevil. A costume heavily influenced from Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear story arc from 1993. This is Matt Murdock in the very first few months of crimefighting, he’s impulsive, aggressive and eager to dish out his own brand of justice. The fight choreography from the very first scene sets the tone for the rest of the series and demonstrates how grounded this superhero show is compared to the big Marvel blockbusters.

There are no huge CGI boss fights or snappy cuts between hero and villain exchanging quippy remarks, just a raw and gritty martial arts fight with longer mid range camera shots showing off the sheer brutality of a hand to hand fight. This kind of choreography really singles out the character as someone that is vastly different than any of the Avengers. While he may have his sonar sense which allow him to ‘see’ his surroundings, Daredevil does not have any other powers to help him out. He’s not a super soldier or a scientific genius or have super strength, he’s forced to rely on his hard earned skill and indomitable willpower to take on the bad guys.

Daredevil Season One

THE DEVIL’S WORK

This essence of mortality that surrounds the character makes Daredevil look as if every punch takes great strength and every hit he takes genuinely hurts him, he’s not invincible. There is a risk in what he chooses to do and we see Matt come close to death multiple times throughout Daredevil season one. A recurring joke made by Matt’s allies in this season is his lack of any real body armour or protection against the very real danger he faces every time he puts on the mask. This carelessness no matter how reckless it may be, truly shows the lengths to which our protagonist will go to in order to keep the streets of his city safe.

Daredevil Season One

THROUGH HELL

While we see Matt fighting off a lot of low level criminals in his war on crime this season, none compare to the mastermind behind the whole operation, arguably Daredevil’s greatest nemesis from the comics, The Kingpin. Played by actor Vincent D’Onofrio who does a stellar job, the soft spoken giant of a man hides a damaged, short tempered boy who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, the city of New York in the palm of his hand. By the series start he is already immensely influential as head of a powerful criminal syndicate as well as having half the police force of Hell’s Kitchen in his pocket. He is a villain who believes himself untouchable, indestructible and without equal. So feared is he that even his own henchmen and business associates dare not speak his name.

Who better then to challenge this mountainous enemy than The Man Without Fear himself. The match-up is the definition of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object and it shows through the characters interactions in this first season. No matter what The Kingpin throws at him, Matt just keeps on coming. No amount of corruption or criminal element will stand in his way, being a very true and accurate portrayal of the Daredevil we know from the comics, a man that never gives up.

Daredevil Season One

THE BLIND LAWYER

While the fist-fighting Devil of Hell’s Kitchen may take the majority of the limelight in a show like this it in no way rejects the importance of Daredevil’s secret identity of Matt Murdock. Blinded by radioactive chemicals as a young boy, Matt grew to learn just how unfair the world he lived in really was. Not long after the accident his boxer father is murdered by gangsters leaving Matt all alone in the world, full of anger and lacking a purpose in life, that was until the blind ninja named Stick took him under his wing and trained him in martial arts. Due to Matt’s boxing heritage he grew to develop his own style of fighting which you can tell the fight choreographers most certainly took into account.

Graduating from college as a lawyer, Matt and his best friend Foggy set up their private law firm ‘Nelson & Murdock‘ which is where our first episode of the series begins and the hints of a corrupt criminal conspiracy start to unravel. Daredevil season one is often more a crime thriller than a superhero show, which tonally fits in with Daredevil’s entire bare knuckle detective approach to fighting injustice.

PARTS OF A WHOLE

A staple of classic superhero storytelling is the main character’s struggle in balancing their personal life with that of a crimefighter, with Daredevil being no exception. Matt Murdock is at times in the series portrayed as a man possessed, not by the Devil necessarily but by a compulsion to fight back against those who would dare harm the innocent. This unfortunately doesn’t leave a lot of time for Matt Murdock the lawyer to be the person he wants to be to those he cares about, being torn between his two paths of justice, through violence and through the law. The show would not be what it is without the characters that Matt interacts with and who are often on the receiving end of his actions.

Foggy in particular is such a great character and an appropriate foil for Matt’s somewhat introverted and stoic persona, being a loud extroverted buffoon who only ever wants to spend time with his best friend. This makes his discovery of Matt’s secret all the more painful as we know how invested Foggy is in making their business together work, protecting the innocent and going after bad guys the lawful way. Not beating them to a pulp every time the sun goes down. Naturally Foggy’s trust in Matt is shaken and he begins to resent him for having to keep his secret from Karen Page, their newest friend and secretary whose journalistic instinct leads her to pursue The Kingpin herself.

THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR

The finale of Daredevil season one converges all parts of Matt Murdock’s life in a final desperate attempt to take down The Kingpin AKA Wilson Fisk. Foggy and Karen work with the information they’ve gathered from Fisk’s past as well as a somewhat unwilling informant in a corrupt police officer while Matt gears up for a confrontation with the big man himself. While it seems as though the law adequately apprehends Fisk, what kind of superhero show would it be without our protagonist facing off against our antagonist in the end? The Kingpin is sprung from his prison transport by the few corrupt police officers left under his command, only to come face to face with The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, this time wearing his signature red armour and horned helm.

As much as I wish I could say the final fight was the greatest part of the series, I actually believe it was one of the weaker choreographed fights of the season. This is not to discredit the climatic build up that led to this scene nor the payoff after it was all said and done however after a season of Daredevil fighting thugs and other martial artists using nothing but his fists, the brutality factor simply wasn’t there. It became your typical fight scene between a costumed superhero and a big dumb brute which we know The Kingpin isn’t. That is just my opinion, though the fight in the finale of season three more than makes up for this scene here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Daredevil season one delivers all the tropes of what you’d expect in a superhero TV show, there’s action, there’s drama in the turmoil of hiding a secret identity and a strong central villain with a masterplan to hold it all together. But all this is not what makes this show special, not just this anyway. The cinematography in this season alone was superb. Everything from the grungy cinematic lighting that made Hell’s Kitchen feel like it was clinging to life to the blurred edges of certain camera shots which mimicked Matt’s distorted and unique perspective on how he views the world around him. The hints of yellow and green that express the sickness of the city clash so well with the bloody spatters and scars that Daredevil leaves in his wake.

This is not a big budget CGI fest of clashing titans and laser beams flashing the sky but a grounded urban battlefield that deals with real issues plaguing the modern world. Drugs, organised crime, corruption and the inaction of those with the power to make great change all resonate with a modern audience who crave for a hero to step up and fight for them. This is what Daredevil represents, a humble man with no ambition greater than leading each day with the philosophy of making a difference and leaving the world a better place than it was yesterday. This is what I believe led to the show’s success not only in this season but across it’s entire run, a run which I look forward to reviewing in further detail.

While there are many topics I could have delved into regarding character and story I know much of it will carry over into my review of the second and third seasons of the show. For more on Daredevil we have published a few articles discussing the character’s future in the MCU here.

Check out our other TV show and film reviews here.

Written by George Cooper

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